Holland v England, International Friendly, August 12, 2009
“It seems really strange and pointless to be playing those sort of games so near to the start of a season. We will have loads and loads of people away. We have got full internationals, under 21s and under 20s. We might as will invent an under 22 and under 24 competition. In a week where we will be trying to prepare for the start of the season, we will not see a lot of our players until Friday morning before the Wigan game. I might as well say all international games three days before the start of the season are pointless. It doesn’t make a great deal of sense.” – Martin O’Neill.
It is pretty difficult to argue with the straight-talking Irishman on this midweek friendly just hours before the real stuff gets underway, but if you are turning out for your international side in a World Cup year there is everything to play for.
Ben Foster is the likely England number one in Amsterdam and after conceding a fairly soft goal to Frank Lampard on Sunday, the Manchester United custodian will be hoping to impress with David James missing with a knee injury. (England are 12/5 to keep a clean sheet.)
No one will likely be more eager at the Amsterdam Arena than David Beckham (11/2 to score). Fresh from LA Galaxy’s 2-1 at the New England Revolution on Sunday, Goldenballs has another opportunity to stake his claim for a place in South Africa and get a little closer to the all-time England appearances record.
In general, Capello has a strong squad to choose from and the likes of Terry, Ferdinand, Lampard, Gerrard, Barry, Rooney (15/2 to score first) and Heskey can all expect to start if fit to play the first half at least. Whilst, Glen Johnson, Ashley Young, Theo Walcott, Jermain Defoe and Carlton Cole join Foster and Beckham in potentially playing for a place in South Africa.
Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has the luxury of a 100% record in World Cup qualifying Group 9 and with a 14 point gap over Scotland and Macedonia in joint second place, we will definitely see the Oranje in South Africa.
Whether the Holland squad is good enough to win the competition in less than a year seems very questionable with a defence that boasts no real standout players. The Dutch though do have four attacking players of the highest quality in Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie (15/8 to score), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (7/4 to score) and Arjen Robben who will be sure to test the Three Lions defence.
Alongside the “Flying Dutchman” (sorry) Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder will be desperate to put on a good show with the watching scouts circling for their services as the Bernabeu exit nears.
A match filled with substitutions and players taking it easy can be expected. It is unlikely to be the greatest spectacle but with two national teams that are in good form and with momentum behind them the quality should be high.
101gg predicts: A repeat of the November 2006 friendly result: Holland 1 – England 1 (5/1)
Full match odds here.