What: FIFA 2010 World Cup
Who: Holland vs JapanGroup E
When: Saturday 19th June, 2010, at 12:30 UK Time
Where: Moses Mabhida Stadium, Durban, South Africa

Oranje Make Good Start

Holland got their World Cup bid off to a good start as they managed to record a clean 2-0 win over Denmark, earning them group pole position, ahead of their opponents Japan. A win here would guarantee the Dutch progress to the next round, unless Cameroon beat Denmark.

One key point that the Oranje would have to work on is their consistency. The Dutch players seemed to quickly fade during the match against Denmark, taking their foot off the gas at times and having their play quickly broken up by the Danes. However, with so much attacking talent, Holland are often able to play at their own pace and still earn an impressive victory.

A positive for coach Bert van Marwijk will be the potential return of star-man Arjen Robben. The Bayern Munich winger missed the opening match due to injury, and was kept as a fresh substitute as Holland dispatched their Scandinavian foes. Should everything go according to plan, then he will most likely start the match against Japan.

Why Not Blue Samurai?

There’s no reason to discount Japan’s chances of upsetting Holland. After all, if Switzerland took all three points against Spain, why shouldn’t they defeat lesser trophy favorites such as the Dutch?

Ironically enough, the win over Cameroon was Japan’s first in a World Cup game away from home soil, remembering their feats in 2002 came during their co-hosting of the tournament. However, the Asians know very well that much more is needed from them should they want to avoid packing their bags early in this tournament.

One thing that the Japanese will need to keep on a short leach is the Dutch attack. Bert van Marwijk’s men are lethal going forward and when given enough room, can cause harm to any team. Add to that the fact that Arjen Robben might return for this one and Japanese coach Takeshi Okada will have an extra problem to deal with. All in all a draw would be a fantastic result for the Blue Samurai and one they may well aim for rather than the win.

Recent form

Holland 4-1 Ghana (01/06; Friendly)
Holland 6-1 Hungary (05/06; Friendly)
Holland 2-0 Denmark (14/06; World Cup – Group E)

England 2-1 Japan (30/05; Friendly)
Ivory Coast 2-0 Japan (04/06; Friendly)
Japan 1-0 Cameroon (14/06; World Cup – Group E)

Players to watch

Holland – Wesley Sneijder: The playmaker wasn’t at his absolute best during Holland’s opening game. Perhaps still suffering somewhat of a hangover after his enormous club success this season with Internazionale, Sneijder is likely to improve as the tournament advances, causing all sorts of danger from every conceivable angle.

Japan – Keisuke Honda: The Japanese star saw his stock rise in Europe this season following eye-catching displays with CSKA Moscow, having earned a move to the Russian giants from Dutch minnows VVV Venlo. An astute free-kick master – just ask Sevilla’s Andres Palop – Honda is one of his team’s most important attacking weapons.

Match prediction

Arjen Robben’s expected return will surely give the Dutch a boost, even if he is not able to hit the ground running. The Danes showed that Holland can be frustrated at times and the success of smaller sides like Switzerland and North Korea in blunting sides with superior attacking power will further cheer the Japanese. With such attacking flair and talent though, it is highly unlikely the Blue Samurai will be able to hold out for the entire game. Holland will be a bit too much for Japan, leaving the game with all the spoils.

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