Qualifying    Standings    Schedule    News    Odds
World Cup Preview from The Sports Network

Monday, June 14, 2010 (All times Eastern)

Netherlands (0-0-0) vs. Denmark (0-0-0), 7:30 a.m.

Johannesburg, South Africa (Sports Network) - Coach Bert van Marwijk took over the Netherlands two years ago and led the country to a perfect record through European qualifying for the World Cup.

The Dutch won all eight of their qualifying matches, and combined to outscore their opponents 17-2. Although the competition - Iceland, Macedonia, Norway and Scotland - wasn't that good, the Netherlands are expecting similar results in South Africa.

Holland opens the tournament Monday against another European side, Denmark, and has just one goal in mind this summer: lifting their first World Cup trophy.

The Dutch were second in the World Cup in 1974 and 1978, losing to the hosts both years. The Netherlands lost to West Germany, 2-1, in 1974 and Argentina 3-1 in extra time in 1978. Holland's lone major title is Euro 1988, when it beat host West Germany in the semifinals and the Soviet Union in the final.

"We have a mission: to be champions of the world," Dutch assistant Frank de Boer, who played for his country from 1990-2004, told FIFA's website.

Van Marwijk is under pressure to deliver that elusive title.

Star Arjen Robben will miss the opener against Denmark with a hamstring injury, and his status for the other Group E games against Cameroon and Japan is also unknown.

"We will keep an eye on his progress," Van Marwijk said. "We don't want to take any risks. The team's objective is to go as far as possible in the tournament to allow Arjen to play with us during the World Cup."

The Netherlands should still be able to navigate through the group stage even if Robben doesn't play. Getting a win against Denmark, which was also impressive in qualifying, should ease the pressure to rush Robben back from the injury.

Denmark was unbeaten through its first nine qualifiers, and lost its last game with a World Cup berth already secured.

Denmark has one of the most experienced cores in the world, led by captain Jon Dahl Tomasson and his 107 international appearances.

Tomasson, Jesper Gronkjaer, Martin Jorgensen, Christian Poulsen, Dennis Rommedahl and Thomas Sorensen were key members of Denmark's last World Cup team in 2002, and enter the tournament with over 500 combined international games played - but all over the age of 30.

Denmark will need its veterans to play extremely well against the Netherlands, but the Danes are capable of advancing even without a result in their opener.

06/13 12:55:57 ET

The Sports Network, a STATS Company. All Rights Reserved.  home | terms of use | privacy policy | comments | SportsNetworkdata.com