The Dutch national football team were still relishing Friday’s record-breaking 11-0 win against San Marino when they met at the weekend to prepare for the next hurdle in their bid to qualify for next year’s European Championships. On Tuesday, Holland face Finland and another victory will all but seal their qualification.
“The Finns will be a trickier opponent for us,” Bert van Marwijk warned after his team sank San Marino. Obviously, the Holland manager was very pleased with the goal extravaganza. But he’d seen an impressive collective effort too:
“It wasn’t only beautiful to watch, it was very effective as well. And you could see this was a genuine team effort, with players prepared to work for each other and create opportunites for each other. And if you notice how quickly we managed to regain a lost ball - which requires a lot of power and energy and everyone took part in it - that was just great to watch. I thoroughly enjoyed the game.”
Defender Joris Mathijsen had a good time too:
“Yes, it was fun, particularly after the sixth or seventh goal. Before that, we couldn’t afford to lose our concentration because we didn’t want to run the risk of suffering injuries or conceding a goal. The goals we made were of exceptional beauty, so yes, we had a good time.”
On the verge of qualifying
With their record victory against San Marino, the Netherlands secured a top-two finish in Euro 2012's qualifying group E. But the Dutch aren’t there yet. With three matches to go, they need at least one more win. The first fixture is scheduled on Tuesday, against Finland, who kept their slim chances of reaching next summer's finals alive by sinking Moldova 4-1 earlier on Friday evening.
“It’s best for us to get it all over with as soon as possible,” says Mathijsen. “We don’t want to leave it to the final game, against Sweden. So, if we make sure we win the two upcoming matches, we’ll be there.”
Beating the Finns won’t be easy, thinks Mathijsen, who vividly remembers the first encounter a year ago almost to the day, which ended in a narrow 2-1 victory for the men in orange.
“In my perception, Sweden and Hungary have slightly more quality, but Finland are a dangerous team too. However, if we maintain our current form and type of play, we can beat anyone.”