Danes face mighty Oranje

Danes face mighty Oranje

Netherlands start firm favourites against young Denmark outfit

Wily Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk believes Denmark know his side too well but is not about to fiddle with his tried and tested formula for a Euro 2012 Group B opener which he has labelled "the most important game". 

Germany and Portugal also await in the difficult-looking Group B and World Cup runners-up Netherlands want a fast start against the modest Danes in Kharkiv on Saturday to get points on the board before the trickier encounters ahead. Van Marwijk is aware however that 1992 winners Denmark are dangerous on their day and Morten Olsen's men have all the information they could ever need on their orange-clad foes. 

"We have no secrets. A lot of their players play in Holland and also in other European leagues, their style of play is a little bit the same, both teams respect each other," Van Marwijk told reporters. "For me it is the most important game." 

The two sides met in the 2010 World Cup group stage with the Dutch winning 2-0.

Centre back Joris Mathijsen is almost certainly out of the Kharkiv match because of a hamstring problem so Ron Vlaar or Wilfred Bouma are likely to step in. Otherwise Netherlands will unleash their armoury of potent weapons including Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie, whose silky skills have been wowing the vast crowds at their training sessions in Krakow and helped destroy Northern Ireland 6-0 in their last friendly. 

The Danes believe they offer enough of a threat themselves to stun the Dutch, especially with their defence looking shaky given Mathijsen's injury and left back Jetro Willems in line to pick up only his second cap. "There are a lot of players who can take charge in midfield, and provide both goals and assists," said Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner, who has six goals in his last eight internationals. "It's looking good, we've been practising well and intensely. We just need the last technical and tactical details and we'll be on our way." Christian Eriksen, of Dutch champions Ajax, will pull the strings for the Scandinavians in midfield as he looks to fulfil his promise and become one of Europe's most talked about players. 

Monkey chants

Netherlands players heard monkey chants from the crowd at a Euro 2012 training session at Wisla Krakow's stadium this week, a team spokeswoman said on Friday, casting a shadow over what had been a near carnival atmosphere. The build-up to the tournament was dominated by worries about racism among home fans. “Some players did hear some monkey noises. That is why they moved to the other side of the pitch,” the spokeswoman said.

The Dutch FA (KNVB) did not lodge a formal complaint with UEFA but was contacted by soccer's European governing body after reports of the incident appeared in local Dutch media. “UEFA has now been made aware that there were some isolated incidents of racist chanting that occurred at the open training session of the Dutch team in Krakow,” UEFA said in a statement on Friday. 

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