Netherlands - England

New national team coach, Bert van Marwijk, although inherited excellent squad from Marco van Basten, already made results that deserve a deep respect. Netherlands have already qualified for a World Cup with seven consecutive wins, with 16 goals scored and just two conceded. At their home, Amsterdam Arena, they kept a clean sheet on all four previous games (with eleven goals scored, btw.)! Their recent performances surely put them in the row of favorites in South Africa. Only concern that currently worries van Marwijk is the fact some his best players haven’t been playing in their clubs. Sneijder, Van der Vaart, Robben and Huntelaar (he signed for AC Milan) lost the season in Real Madrid, Dirk Kuyt and Ryan Babel are more on the bench in Liverpool than on the pitch, nearly the same situation is also with Nigel de Jong in Manchester City. However, van Marwijk called all of them showing unlimited trust, while they’ll have additional motive for good performance in scouts who will watch the game. The Netherlands will be without the skipper Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Mark van Bommel through injury, while mentioned midfielder Nigel de Jong returns from suspension. A win against England would boost their confidence till the sky, but also it has to be said, visitors are much stronger squad than the opponents who Dutch defeated seven times in group.

After dark eras under Sven-Göran Eriksson and Steve McClaren, English national team finally started to look serious and competitive. Fabio Capello brought with himself his vision of the game which always includes playing on the result. With strong authority and the excellent media handling, it brings great results so far. As Netherlands, England booked the ticket for South Africa and the final showdown. After seven group games, maximum number of points are on balance. And as Netherlands, have a huge goal difference, 26 goals scored and just four conceded. Capello’s biggest concern is long-time solution for a goalkeeper. Standard number one, David James has a knee injury, while his replacement Ben Foster (Man.Utd.) also got injured. So, place on the pitch will take Paul Robinson (Blackburn), or Robert Green (West Ham). The fact is, all counted names are not on the same level as other lines of the team. For this encounter, Capello can not count on Steven Gerrard who was forced to withdraw from the squad after picking up a groin problem in training. Aston Villa's Ashley Young will replace him. All others are available. Only wins keep the good atmosphere (in the team and in public) and Capello as always will demand a result.

I doubt anybody looks this game just like a friendly game in preparation for World Cup. Both sides will give their best to defeat old rivals, but also would accept a draw for a peace in the house, much rather than defeat. I predict a lots of fire, but peaceful epilogue at the end. Draw.


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