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Van Marwijk shows England respect

Published: Wednesday 29 February 2012, 9.48CET
The Netherlands "certainly won't be underestimating" England at Wembley Stadium according to head coach Bert van Marwijk, who is a self-confessed fan of the English game.
by Andy James
from Wembley
Van Marwijk shows England respect
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk oversees training at Wembley on Tuesday ©Getty Images
 
Published: Wednesday 29 February 2012, 9.48CET

Van Marwijk shows England respect

The Netherlands "certainly won't be underestimating" England at Wembley Stadium according to head coach Bert van Marwijk, who is a self-confessed fan of the English game.

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk played his cards typically close to his chest regarding his lineup for Wednesday's Wembley friendly against England.

"I could tell you but I'm not going to," said the Oranje boss when asked about his plans after Tuesday's training session at the famous stadium. Yet while the 59-year gave little away concerning his team, he certainly appeared well-informed about the opposition as an ardent follower of the Premier League.

"I watch a lot of English football on television and we have five current and two former Premier League players in the squad, so there are no secrets about their team," said Van Marwijk, who believes the hosts are far stronger than their recent record at tournaments suggests.

"I respect English football. I think they were a bit unlucky at the last World Cup against Germany. If [Frank Lampard's disallowed strike] had been given they probably would have reached the last four. We certainly won't be underestimating them."

Needless to say, Van Marwijk has been hugely impressed by the prolific form of Arsenal FC forward Robin van Persie, who along with FC Schalke 04's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar forms Europe's most prolific strike force this season. The duo have netted 41 goals in 48 league matches between them and promise to provide a stern test for an inexperienced England back line.

"Robin is in great form," said the trainer. "He's a slightly different player now, more of a centre-forward. He used to be more involved in combinations, like with [Cesc] Fàbregas and [Samir] Nasri at Arsenal, but while he still drops deep, he now has the quality to score goals."

Van Persie registered six as the Netherlands top-scored with 37 in UEFA EURO 2012 qualifying, storming through with a game to spare. Central to that success has been keeping intact the majority of the side that reached the 2010 FIFA World Cup final. Van Marwijk explained that his current squad was "more or less the same" despite "one or two important players" missing for the London trip.

One of the absences is that of Tottenham Hotspur FC attacker Rafael van der Vaart, whose ankle injury may mean senior debuts for youngsters Ola John and Luciano Narsingh. The pair have shone in the Eredivisie this term and while van Marwijk refused to be drawn on whether either would feature, he did describe them as "very talented players with pace and excellent crossing ability".

Whichever players take to the Wembley turf, Van Marwijk promised to "play in the Dutch style", which by his own admission "looks better in some games than others". He insisted the performance took precedence over the result and with Germany, Portugal and Denmark to contend with in UEFA EURO 2012 Group B, the 1988 champions will doubtless relish the chance to measure themselves against rivals of England's calibre with just 100 days to go until the summer showpiece kicks off on 8 June.

Last updated: 21/03/12 16.50CET

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