In less than 24 hours Holland will kick off what we all hope is going to be the most successful World Cup in Dutch history. Traditionally, we Dutchies are highly confident that this year will be the year of our ultimate victory and the 2010 World Cup isn't any different. With our Fantastic Four in place, Holland could go all the way, but let's start with Denmark first.
The match-up against Denmark is a very interesting one. Besides all the obvious similarities between the countries in terms of size, geography and culture, Holland and Denmark share a history in football, with many former Denmark legends having played for Dutch clubs at one point in their career, including the likes of Soren Lerby, the Laudrup brothers, Jon Dahl Tomasson etc. In fact, of the 23 players in the Danish squad, 10 have enjoyed a stint with a Dutch club. So it isn't like these teams are going to surprise each other. This doesn't mean that the match won't be exciting, because I'm expecting it will be, if only because of the quick and highly fluent Dutch manner of play. The Danes will play a more conservative style, but are not known to focus on defense.
Logically, one might expect a match that is far more interesting than the ones we have seen in this World Cup up until now. In general, the level of play has been disappointing to put it mildly. France's performance against Uruguay was something to be rightfully ashamed off, while the English and Argentinians couldn't show anything remotely similar to World Champions form. Here's hoping the Dutch will provide the spark in enthusiasm and attractive play that this World Cup is increasingly craving for.
Holland will play a 4-2-3-1 formation tomorrow. With Robben still out with an injury, the whole Fantastic Four discussion that has engulfed Holland over the last few weeks will be put to rest until at least the match against Cameroon. Holland's line-up is therefore easy to predict. With Stekelenburg as the undisputed number one goalkeeper, the defence will look like this: Van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Van Bronckhorst. In front of this much discussed line, Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong will play as defensive midfielders, allowing for the creative starlets up front to excel. This creative force will consist of Kuyt, Sneijder, Van der Vaart and Van Persie. If Holland is able to maintain the form of play they have been displaying during the run-up to the world cup and in the qualification phase, Holland should be able to win it without too much difficulty. Being an optimistic person, I predict a 3-0 victory. Let's see if I was right, come tomorrow at around half past three.