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Van Nistelrooy back for Dutch opener

Ruud van Nistelrooy has returned to the Dutch national team for the first time in two years, replacing injured striker Robin van Persie in the run-up to their Group E opener in San Marino.

Ruud van Nistelrooy has not played for the Netherlands since UEFA EURO 2008
Ruud van Nistelrooy has not played for the Netherlands since UEFA EURO 2008 ©Getty Images

Beaten finalists at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, the Netherlands will look to vent some of their frustration in their Group E opener against section minnows San Marino.

Team news
• Defender Nicola Chiaruzzi and midfielder Pier Filippo Mazza, both 22, are the new faces in the San Marino squad for the game against the Netherlands. Gianpaolo Mazza's young selection features only three players with more than 40 caps: defender Simone Bacciocchi, midfielder Damiano Vannucci and striker Andy Selva. With eight to his name, Selva is the only player in the team to have scored more than one international goal and will lead the line against the Dutch.

San Marino squad
Michele Ceccoli (AC Libertas), Aldo Simoncini (AC Bellaria Igea Marina)
Defenders: Simone Bacciocchi (AC Juvenes/Dogana), Maicol Berretti (S.S. Pennarossa), Nicola Chiaruzzi (SP Tre Penne), Alessandro Della Valle (Sanvitese ACD), Davide Simoncini (Santa Giustina S. Vito), Carlo Valentini (Sammaurese AC), Fabio Vitaioli (Sammaurese AC)
Giovanni Bonini (Fontanelle PD), Matteo Bugli (S.S. Cosmos), Alex Gasperoni (SP Tre Penne), Pier Filippo Mazza (ASD Sant'Ermete), Damiano Vannucci (AC Juvenes/Dogana)
Forwards: Nicola Ciacci (S.S. Pennarossa), Manuel Marani (ASD Riccione), Andy Selva (Hellas-Verona FC), Matteo Vitaioli (S.S. Fiorentino)

• Following Giovanni van Bronckhorst's retirement, Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk is on the lookout for a new team captain, though he insisted that the choice of team leader for the San Marino game might be a "temporary captain". Without the injured Arjen Robben, the coach has left out Ryan Babel, Edson Braafheid, Sander Boschker, André Ooijer and Stijn Schaars from the side he took to the FIFA World Cup, with Vurnon Anita, Theo Janssen, Jeremain Lens, Hedwiges Maduro, Erik Pieters, Piet Velthuizen and Ron Vlaar given the chance to shine in their place.

• The 34-year-old Ruud van Nistelrooy also received a late call-up, replacing injured Arsenal FC forward Robin van Persie. The former PSV Eindhoven, Manchester United FC and Real Madrid CF striker last played for his country on 21 June 2008, scoring in a 3-1 UEFA EURO 2008 quarter-final defeat against Russia.

Netherlands squad
Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (AFC Ajax), Piet Velthuizen (Hércules CF), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht)
Vurnon Anita (AFC Ajax), Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart), John Heitinga (Everton FC), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburger SV), Erik Pieters (PSV Eindhoven), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (AFC Ajax)
Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (PSV Eindhoven), Mark van Bommel (FC Bayern München), Theo Janssen (FC Twente), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Hedwiges Maduro (Valencia CF), Wesley Sneijder (FC Internazionale Milano), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid CF), Demy de Zeeuw (AFC Ajax)
Forwards: Eljero Elia (Hamburger SV), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool FC), Jeremain Lens (PSV Eindhoven), Ruud van Nistelrooy (Hamburger SV)

Match background
• San Marino's record in four games against the Netherlands reads W0 D0 L4 (W0 D0 L2 at home, though one of those matches was played in Bologna, Italy).

• In their four fixtures against the Oranje, San Marino have yet to score a goal, with the aggregate scoreline a somewhat punishing 23-0 in the Netherlands' favour.

• All four of their meetings have come in World Cup qualifiers, the sides having been pooled together in the run-up to the 1994 and 1998 finals.

• Being the home team has yet to spare San Marino against the Netherlands as their home losses (7-0 and 6-0) have been heavier than their away defeats (6-0 and 4-0).

• The 7-0 outcome in Bologna on 22 September 1993 remains the Netherlands' biggest win against San Marino. John Bosman scored a hat-trick in that game.

• Bosman also registered one of the goals when the nations met in Serravalle on 30 April 1997, with his four strikes overall making him the Oranje's most prolific scorer against San Marino, ahead of Frank de Boer with three.

• The 1998 tournament qualifiers marked an improvement of sorts for San Marino, who managed to keep the half-time deficit down to 1-0 on both occasions.