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"The intellectualisation
of football has
always foundered
on a simple problem-
-the players. Doing
all your most
rewarding thinking
with your feet seems
to dull the philo-
sophical impulse.
Unless, of course,
you are Dutch.
According to legend,
Europeans played
a moronic, muscular
version of the world's
game, until Holland
proclaimed its vision
of total football in the
1974 World Cup,
and enlightenment

Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football

UEFA Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine - Friendlies
Van Persie seems worth the confidence

The Dutch national team won their last friendly before the start of Euro 2012 on Saturday. The team of bondscoach Bert van Marwijk had a ball in the Amsterdam ArenA against a very bleak Northern Ireland: 6-0. Ibrahim Afellay and Robin van Persie were the main players of Oranje in Northern Ireland's biggest defeat in 51 years (6-1 to Scotland).

With the big score Holland gained a welcome load of self-confidence. In the past weeks the results had not been too impressive. Van Marwijk's team lost to Bayern Munich (2-3) and Bulgaria (1-2) and beat Slovakia (2-0). By picking low quality Northern Ireland as their last sparring partner Holland were sure to have a pleasant send-off game.

Van Marwijk had Oranje playing in the lineup with which he will start the tournament in a week. Compared to the game against Slovakia there had been two changes: Ron Vlaar replaced the injured Wilfred Bouma (who had replaced the injured Joris Mathijsen) and Jetro Willems returned at left back. That had been the only position that was filled in with a pencil in the past days.

The other spots seemed set.

The system will be much the same as it has been in the past four years, with two center backs and two very offensive wing backs, covered by holding midfielders Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong. In front of that Robin van Persie will lead an offensive line that is completed by Arjen Robben and Ibrahim Afellay on the wing and Wesley Sneijder as the middle man.

There had been a lot of discussion about whether it should be Huntelaar or Van Persie as the out-and-out-striker, but the Arsenal man made it clear today with two goals, two assists and a very smart overall performance that he should be the leader of the creative pack. Huntelaar may be a more prolific finisher, but that's all he is. Van Persie isn't a bad finisher either and can do so much more than just linger in the box, waiting to be provided.

He showed his finishing capabilities on Holland's first goal, when he was left unmarked at the second post and scored from a long high cross with a well placed header. Minutes later he converted a penalty after a handball by Shane Ferguson. In between Sneijder scored a fine free kick from some five meters outside the box (what a luxury it is for the team to have Sneijder, Van Persie, Robben and - when they play - Ron Vlaar, Rafael van der Vaart and Huntelaar all very well capable of scoring from set pieces!).

Within the first half Afellay made it four when he was put clean through by Van Persie.

Holland played well in the first 45 minutes. There was high ball pace, a lot of movement, good pressure on the opponent's build up and the defense not once got in any kind of trouble. Of course the opponent was 'only' Northern Ireland, but the team remained disciplined for some 60 minutes, scored five within that time frame and created some 20 good chances - from all angles by a five or six players.

When Van Marwijk took off Van Bommel and Van Persie for Van der Vaart and Huntelaar concentration and discipline faded. Vlaar headed in a sixth from a corner (his first for Holland) and Rafael van der Vaart went very close twice with well placed shots from a distance - denied by the post once and b the finger tips of Caroll.

On Monday the team fly to Kraków, where they will make the final preparations for their first group game against Denmark on Saturday. The fin e score against the Northern Irish holiday makers will give them a good feeling for that opening game.



6 - 0

Northern Ireland


R. van Persie
(Assist: W. Sneijder)




W. Sneijder




R. van Persie




I. Afellay
(Assist: R. van Persie)




I. Afellay
(Assist: R. van Persie)




R. Vlaar
(Assist: I. Afellay)






Gele kaart

14' M. Duff


Gele kaart

16' L. Hodson

Lineups and substitutions

M. Stekelenburg


L. Camp

46' R. Carroll

G. van der Wiel


J. McPake


J. Willems

78' S. Schaars

L. Hodson


J. Heitinga


M. Duff

62' R. McArdle

R. Vlaar


D. Lafferty

46' R. McGivern

A. Robben

82' L. Narsingh

G. McCann

46' J. Carson

I. Afellay


O. Norwood


M. van Bommel

57' R. Van der Vaart

S. Clingan


N. de Jong


S. Ferguson

81' D. Healy

W. Sneijder

70' D. Kuyt

A. Little

56' N. McGinn

R. van Persie

57' K. Huntelaar

W. Grigg


Euro 2012 campaign - Results, schedule, standings

Holland at European Championships

All time European Championships ranking


Robben: "Hard to grasp"
Van Bommel after defeat: "I'm a little speechless"
Van Marwijk: "In no mood to get negative"
Flat Dutch don't know what to do with 20+ chances
Netherlands-Denmark: lineup
Joris Mathijsen recovering well
Cruyff: "Kuyt at right back"
Mathijsen still uncertain - could miss entire tournament
Holland and Denkmark: head-to-head
Van Persie seems worth the confidence
Van Marwijk again opts for Van Persie instead of Huntelaar
Huntelaar: "Upset is not the right the word"
Ron Vlaar: "I know what I am capable of"
Van Marwijk: "We remained disciplined"
Ibi and Rafa show manager he has options
Ibrahim Afellay Oranje's Zidane?
Van Marwijk looking for certainties
Cruijff: "Not enough depth in your game is asking for trouble"
Bouma: "I've gone through the desert"
Van Persie: "Defeat at this point not a problem"
Euro 2012 finals squad
Mathijsen strains muscle
Bulgarians surprise Oranje
Ola Toivonen's goal sees Sweden beat Holland and qualify
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar sinks Moldova
Oranje maintain perfection, beat Finland
Netherlands thrash San Marino in Euro 2012 qualifier
Kuyt kills off brave Hungary for Netherlands
Oranje trash Hungary
Sweden no match for Oranje
Van Marwijk: "We left them without chance"
Dirk Kuyt out for months
"We are prepared for all scenarios"
Minimal but easy win for Holland in Moldavia
Van Marwijk: "We played very well"
Holland want result after tumultuous week
Van der Vaart to replace De Jong
"This case only has losers"
Van Marwijk drops Nigel de Jong
Holland & Moldavia: head-to-head
Holland & Sweden: head-to-head
Wisgerhof replaces Maduro
Bouma back on the radar
Netherlands - Finland 2-1
Van Marwijk: "We were late all over the pitch"
Van Bommel: "There wasn't anymore in it"
Heitinga: "That can not happen"
Van der Vaart unhappy with role on the side
Kuyt and Boulahrouz out with injury
"It all revolves around Jari Litmanen"
Sneijder: "Don't tinker with it"
Alonso: "No hard feelings"
Van Marwijk: "Second half was better"
San Marino-Netherlands 0-5
Oranje: a new mission