2010 World Cup Group E Preview: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Holland are easy favorites to win World Cup Group E, while Denmark, Cameroon, and Japan will all be very optimistic of reaching the Quarter Finals after a favorable drawing against Group F in the Last-16.
Group E: Netherlands, Denmark, Japan, Cameroon
Holland(World Ranking 3), as ever, will go into this tournament as one of the favorites. They have always produced teams of technical brilliance and this current team is no different. Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Snejder, Arjen Robben (injury permitting), and Robin van Persie are some of the best players in the world and as always, the Dutch team's biggest enemy will be themselves.
Eight games with eight wins for Bert van Marwijk’s side in Group nine saw the Netherlands sail into the World Cup, which also means that the Oranje are unbeaten in their last 18 matches.
The Dutch have a highly underestimated defense, a brilliantly balanced midfield, and strikers that can make a real difference in tight matches, which when all combined, make Holland one of the most formidable teams in the tournament.
They have also been handed a good group and should easily advance, so the battle should really be for second place.
Of the three teams in the group, it would seem a straightforward battle between Denmark and Cameroon for that runner up spot.
Denmark came through the trenches of qualification in possibly the toughest group in world football. The Rolligans eliminated their fierce rivals Sweden as well as consigning Portugal to the playoffs. They are an extremely well organized team, and just lack that extra bit of flair that is needed to progress to the next level. Discount them at your peril.
Under the longest serving manager in international football, Morten Olsen, Denmark has kept faith with the system that missed out on Germany in 2006, and it has reaped dividends. They have been playing the same system for the last 10 years and will be difficult for any team to beat.
Cameroon only qualified on the last game day. Despite this, they are extremely talented and experienced at this level. Samuel Eto'o will provide the goals, while Alex Song should provide the steel in midfield.
Their un-doing could be their unpredictability.
The Indominatable Lions have played more World Cup games than any other African nation, and as such have more experience of what is needed at this level than any of their neighbors. Paul Le Guen has instilled a Western European style game in Cameroon, and the results have been good. They will score goals, but will find the going difficult against well organized opposition.
Japan enter Group E as makeweights despite being the very first team to book their place at the footballing banquet on show. They are lightweight throughout their side and the physical Danes, and Cameroonian's should be a bridge too far, nevermind the skillful Dutch.
Takeshi Okada has had to rebuild the team from the ground up and they have valuable European experience in their ranks in Shunsuke Nakumura and Keisuke Honda, but they will struggle to make any kind of impact in this group.
Runners Up: Denmark
Fixtures in Group E:
Match (09) June 14—Netherlands vs. Denmark (Soccer City, 91,141)
Match (10) June 14—Japan vs. Cameroon (Free State Stadium, 48,000)
Match (25) June 19—Netherlands vs. Japan (Moses Mabhida Stadium, 70,000)
Match (26) June 19—Cameroon vs. Denmark (Loftus Versfield Stadium, 51,762)
Match (43) June 24—Denmark vs. Japan (Royal Bofokeng Stadium 44,530)
Match (44) June 24—Cameroon vs. Netherlands (Cape Town Stadium, 69,070)
Players To Watch:
Simon Kjaer (DEN), Keisuke Honda (JAP), Alex Song (CMR), John Heitinga (NED)
Ernie Brandts (NED) is the only player in World Cup history to score for both teams in the same match after he scored an own goal, and then the equalizer in Hollands 2-1 win over Italy in 1978.