Romania face Holland in the final game of Group C, bolstered by the knowledge that they defeated the Dutch the last time the two teams met.
It is eight months since Romania defeated Holland 1-0 on their way to topping their Euro 2008 qualifying group, but coach Victor Piturca believes Marco van Basten’s men have improved since then.
“We had some experienced players who knew Dutch football well and that helped us with our tactics against them in the qualifiers,” Piturca said of that victory. “However, that wasn’t a good time for the Netherlands whereas right now, unfortunately for us, they are in extremely good form.”
Romania go into the game on the back of successive draws draws against France and Italy – and in pole position to take second place behind a Dutch team already assured first place. Victory would guarantee a place in the last eight, and even a defeat might be enough depending on he result in the group’s other game between France and Italy.
“I don’t care about [the other] game,” Piturca said. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to coach my team if I’m thinking about another game. We know the different scenarios but by the end of the game I hope we will have qualified because we deserve it.”
Piturca is without centre-back Dorin Goian, scorer of the winner against the Dutch last October, who misses out through suspension. Midfielder Mirel Radoi, meanwhile, has been ruled out of the tournament after breaking his nose and cheekbone in last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Italy.
“Any loss is a great one for a small country like Romania,” said Piturca who should give Sorin Ghionea his first start of the finals in place of Steaua Bucharest team-mate Goian.
With qualification already assured Holland coach Marco Van Basten is expected rest some key players. Nonetheless, Van Basten insisted that he and his players were taking tonight’s game seriously.
“We are taking the game very seriously and will play the best available team against Romania,” said Van Basten.
“I am not saying anything about the starting lineup,” he said. “I will tell the players first tomorrow and only after that will I make it public. We have a very professional group of 23 players, so we go into the game with the same concentration and desire as we always do.”
Midfielder Nigel de Jong and defender Andre Ooijer are expected to be resetd with both players one booking away from a suspension while the likes of Wilfred Bouma, John Heitinga, Melchiot, Demy de Zeeuw, and Ibrahim Afellay touted as possible starters.
One probable starter is Arjen Robben, who came off the bench and tormented the French in Holland’s previous game.
According to Van Basten Real Madrid winger Robben is “raring to go and eager” to start against the Romania.