The Oranje host das Team, hopeful of another win.Still Going Strong
Defeat in the World Cup final against Spain hasn’t stopped the Netherlands from continuing to enhance their reputation as one of the planet’s elite football nations. The 1-0 reverse against la Furia Roja is the only time that the Oranje have suffered defeat under the charge of coach Bert van Marwijk, and instead of crumbling after the loss, they’ve moved largely from victory to victory.
The European Championships of 2012 already seem set to be graced with the presence of the colorful Dutch support. Four qualifying wins from four matches have been attained, with the most impressive of these undoubtedly the 4-1 success against Sweden in Amsterdam back in October.
Results in friendly matches haven’t been quite so kind to the Netherlands, but a draw in the Ukraine and a victory over Turkey at home still rank as respectable outcomes.
Now the aim is to continue their near glorious 2010 into 2011, starting with Wednesday’s encounter against Austria. A number of players have pulled out of Van Marwijk’s squad late on due to injury problems, but the Oranje have retained a strong core and will be hopeful that they have enough to start the year in a positive fashion.
Coming To The Boil
Austria won’t prove to be pushovers at the Amsterdam ArenA, having enjoyed a relatively positive end to the year. Euro 2012 is still in sight for Dietmar Constantini’s side, who have picked up victories over Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan to put them second in the race to qualify from Group A, behind inevitable leaders Germany.
Their last competitive match was a remarkable affair. Faced with Belgium in Brussels, the Austrians ended up playing out a 4-4 draw that either side could have won. With four minutes of normal time remaining, the guests lead 3-2, but going into stoppage time, the hosts had turned the match around to hold a 4-3 advantage. Martin Harnik’s 93rd minute strike salvaged a point, keeping das Team in second.
Over the course of the next four months, things heat up significantly for the Alpine side. The return leg against the dangerous Belgians beckons, before a treacherous and potentially decisive trip to Turkey four days later. And Germany visit in June for something of a derby, though that is a fixture the Austrians can hold little hope of winning.
Going to the Netherlands on Wednesday will therefore allow Constantini an opportunity to fine tune his players for the difficult challenges ahead in a non-competitive environment. A positive performance is just as important as a positive result.
Many of the top Dutch stars have been quick to pull out of this encounter. Nigel de Jong, Robin van Persie and Rafael van der Vaart have all withdrawn from the squad, opening the door for Kevin Strootman and Luuk de Jong to debut. Arjen Robben wasn’t fit enough to make the cut in the first place.
Wesley Sneijder has indicated that he’s not ready to play the entire fixture.
Roman Wallner has dropped out of the squad due to muscular pains, but coach Dietmar Constantini hasn’t called a replacement, leaving his side with 18 outfield players and three goalkeepers with which to approach this encounter.
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