In a relatively simple group, Holland can rely on some of the finest talent to see off all-comers but Denmark will be the measure of how well they can expect to do.
Denmark were one of the surprise qualifiers of the European Zone, comfortably topping their table ahead of their ever-present rivals Sweden, and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. Their biggest strength comes in defence, as they kept six clean sheets and conceded only 5 goals in 10 matches. Defenders like Liverpool’s Daniel Agger and Palermo’s Simon Kjaer are set to be highly influential, as will old heads Jon Dahl Tomasson and Jesper Gronkjaer but it will be closely watched to see if the man that scored to get them to the finals, Soren Larsen, is given a chance to improve on his 11 goals in only 19 games.
Holland are one of the pre-tournament favourites, boasting the terrifying attacking prowess of van Persie, Kuyt and Robben and perfect midfield scheming of van Bommel, Sneijder and van der Vaart. Ranked 4th in the world, their last game was a signal of intent – a 6-1 thrashing of Denmark’s European Qualification rivals Hungary. Though they will have to make do without Arjen Robben for the Denmark game, drafting in Nigel de Jong, it should hardly dampen a ferocious team capable of beating any team on their day.
Expect a win for Holland, though the manner of the victory depends very much on the how the team adapt to the conditions. Denmark lack speed up front and will find it very difficult to break down a Giovanni van Bronckhorst-led line. Holland’s only question mark hangs over Ajax keeper Maarten Stekelenberg, so uncomfortable, his understudy Kenneth Vermeer replaced him in 2008-09, until his form recovered.