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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 Marwijk looking for certainties


The team will be looking for certainties in their friendly against Slovakia Wednesday night in Rotterdam. The defeat against the Bulgarians (1-2) showed that Oranje have some work to do, although Van Marwijk wasn't completely unhappy about the first hour.

Now that the squad is complete with the arrival of Ibrahim Afellay from Barcelona the manager can start working towards his ideal formation; something Wesley Sneijder emphasized as much on Monday: "Now we must work towards a certain basis on which we can enter the tournament. We have both feet firmly on the ground, but perhaps that makes us even sharper. You can count on us being ready when it starts. All will be all right."

Oranje got some harsh criticism after Saturday's mishap in the Amsterdam Arena. Both Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit put some question marks over the choices of Van Marwijk as did Johan Cruijff.

The 60-year-old manager never pays much attention to the opinions of others and sticks to his own views. Yet it is to be expected that the contours of the team Van Marwijk has in mind will be a bit more visible tonight.

Maarten Stekelenburg will probably return on goal and at left back Stijn Schaars will probably get a chance. Schaars is competing with Jetro Willems for the spot that became available after Erik Pieters pulled out with an injury. In central defense Van Marwijk will play either Wilfred Bouma or Feyenoord captain Ron Vlaar now that Joris Mathijsen is out with a strained hamstring.

There is no doubt about the holding span in midfield (Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong), but for the four positions up front the battle is still on. Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben are of crucial importance for Oranje and seem certain to start.

The big question is whether Robin van Persie is still number 1 for the center forward position, as Klaas-Jan Huntelaar started against Bulgaria and - like Van Persie in England - had an outstanding season at Shalke 04. If the shirt number (9 for Huntelaar, 16 for Van Persie) is any indication Van Marwijk seems to lean towards Huntelaar. For Van Persie that would mean he would be out on the wing, but Van Marwijk could also opt for either Dirk Kuyt or Ibrahim Afellay on that position.

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