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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
dawned."

From:
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
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UEFA Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine
Group E - Qualifications

Oranje: a new mission

3 September 2010

In a scene that does not bring back any memories of the World Cup the Dutch national football team embark on their new mission tonight. The game against San Marino in the cozy Olimpico Stadium in Serravalle is the first leg of a tour that should end with Holland lifting their second European Cup at the European Championships 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

San Marino has tried to make it to the finals of the European Championship five times now. All attempts failed. The pigmee-state never even gained a point from a qualification game.

The home base of San Marino can host 10,000 people. In comparison: almost 100,000 people in Soccer City saw Holland lose the final of the World Cup against Spain, now almost two months ago.

San Marino is an opponent of a different caliber than Spain. The nation has only 30,000 inhabitants and is just a little bigger than the city of Goirle, where Joris Mathijssen was born. Captain Andy Selva and goalkeeper Aldfo Simoncini are the only professional players of the team that shares the last spot of the FIFA World Ranking with Papua-New-Guinea, the Central-African Republic, Anguilla, Montserrat and American Samoa. The two play in the Italian Serie C.

It is thus possible that Holland manager Bert van Marwijk will alter his usual tactics and play only one holding midfielder and a more offensive lineup. One of the questions is what the role of prodigal son Ruud van Nistelrooy will be. The Hamburg striker seems to stand lower in the pecking order than Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Albeit that that is based on Van Nistelrooy's absence and it is purely theoretically. On the training ground this week it was obvious that in reality Van Nistelrooy is a leader. The fact that he has played and scored in recent weeks could get him on the team ahead of Huntelaar, who has played very little and changed clubs this week.

John Heitinga will be suspended for one game, following his red card. He will be replaced by Feyenoord-youngster Ron Vlaar or Hedwiges Maduro. The latter has the advantage that he is actually a midfielder, and with San Marino unlikely to push many man forward that may be a more practical solution. It is expected that Vurnon Anita will - for now - take the retired Giovanni van Bronckhorst's spot at left-back.

Euro 2012 campaign - Results, schedule, standings

Holland at European Championships

All time European Championships ranking

Latest

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
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