Holland and Denmark kick-off their World Cup campaigns when they meet at Soccer City on Monday, with the Dutch widely expected to be in contention for the title.
Holland have been touted as possible winners of this year’s competition, having embarked upon a remarkable run under coach Bert Van Marwijk.
The Dutch are unbeaten in their last 19 games – a run which stretches back to September 2008. Denmark, by contrast, have lost warm-up matches to Australia and South Africa and come into the tournament hoping for a trasnformation in their form. Nonetheless, Van Marwijk will not betaking his opponents lightly.
“We have enormous respect for any opponent, but also for Denmark,” he said. “They are two teams that know each other through and through. I don’t think we have any secrets from one another.
“We have the same ideas when it comes to football.”
“All I am interested in is the Dutch team. I think two years ago I said that this is the most important match, the first one of the World Cup, and we’ll do everything in our power to win it.”
Holland may well be without without winger Arjen Robben who is suffering from a hamstring injury. The Bayern Munich forward suffered the problem while trying a back-heel in a warm-up match and although he has trained, is unlikely to start in the opener. Rafael van der Vaart is set to deputise in his absence.
Denmark could be without Nicklas Bendtner, who has a groin problem.
The striker may not be risked against Holland, with manager Morten Olsen perhaps focusing on the games against Japan and Cameroon as the real key matches in the group.
Olsen said: “We’d love to have him back of course but I think I would be dreaming to have him back. I don’t think he will play.
“Surely we hope to have him back (sometime during the World Cup), he is good player, a talented player and we hope.”
The Danish coach also must decide whether to play Palermo defender Simon Kjaer in the heart of defence, as the centre-back has been carrying a knee problem.
Goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen is set to make his first appearance since dislocating an elbow back in April.
Denmark (probable): Sorensen; L. Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, Mtiliga; Rommedahl, D. Jensen, S. Poulsen, M. Jorgensen; Tomasson, Larsen.
Holland (probable): Stekelenburg; Van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Van Bronkhorst; Van Bommel, De Jong; Kuyt, Sneijder, Van der Vaart; Van Persie.
Referee: Stephane Lannoy (France)