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Entries in Group E (4)


World Cup Preview: Group E Final Matches

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Japan, Denmark Battle To
Join Dutch In Next Round

One Great Season

Japan v. Denmark

This looks to be a very interesting match on paper, with both sides looking to go through. The Japanese only need a draw, but the Danes need to go all out for the three points in order to advance.

Japan Keys

+ Maintain the organization that helped them defeat Cameroon and keep the Dutch at bay for a long time.
+ Punish Danish mistakes in their own half if the trend continues.
+ As has been the case throughout the tournament, find someone to hit the back of the net.

Denmark Keys

+ Must eliminate the silly giveaways in their own half that have turned coach Morten Olsen's hair from gray to white.
+ Use Rommendahl's speed and other weapons to stretch the Japanese defense and create chances for Bendtner and others.
+ Finish chances against a stingy defense.

Netherlands v. Cameroon

In contrast, the Dutch have already booked their place in the final 16, and Cameroon have been eliminated. Expect the Oranje to rest some of their mainstays, and the Indomitable Lions attempt to salvage some pride with a win.

Netherlands Keys

+ Use match to give some of the rest of the squad players a taste of the action in South Africa in case needed later.
+ Avoid injuries and cards!

Cameroon Keys

+ Come out motivated and cohesive, play with a point to prove.
+ A big ask, but give the Dutch as little time on the ball as possible.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup 2010: Group E Recap

Denmark Own Goal vs. Netherlands

One Great Season

In the first half of Monday's Group E opener, Denmark did exactly as they needed to do. They soaked up pressure early, then gradually came out of their shell on the counter attack. In spite of the overwhelming Dutch advantage in possession, the Danes created the best chances. Bendtner should have done better with his free header, either taking it to the opposite corner or heading to the back post to Enevoldsen. Stekelenburg also made a couple of good saves to keep it nil-nil. The Dutch had tons of ball, but lacked the cutting edge in the final third.


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All the Danish organization went out the window at the start of the second half. An incisive ball from inside the Dutch half to van Persie caused all kinds of problems. Keystone-cops defending by the Danes led to a panicked header by Busk Poulsen, which went into their own goal off of Agger's back. Advantage Netherlands, and they would not look back. Van der Vaart nearly scored one of the better goals of the tournament with a cheeky flick, but Sorensen did well to save it. Later, Sneijder unlocked the Danish defense with a killer through ball to the very dangerous-looking Elia. Sorensen got a finger to his shot to push it onto the post. But Kuyt, whose tireless work at both ends of the pitch was obvious throughout the match, was first to the ball in front of a napping Kjaer to push it across the line. Later, another great chance for the Dutch, but Busk was able to acrobatically hook it off the line with the ball going in.

All told, the Dutch deserved the three points, but they will be looking for a sharper effort going forward. One of the few matches thus far where we saw good goalkeeping at both ends.

Japan 1, Cameroon 0

Ugly first half of play. Shaky goalkeeping at each end. Cameroon were totally disjointed. Sloppy at the back, virtually no link play through midfield, little threat up front. The Japanese were barely better. But as the half neared its end, the Blue Samurai began to show a little bit. Matsui's fine cross, combined with slack defending, found an unmarked Honda at the back post. Honda had the time and space to pick his spot, and slotted home inside the near post.

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Within the first five minutes of the second half, the Indomitable Lions nearly equalized. Eto'o was in the corner with three Japanese defenders around him, but managed to power through them and pull it back for Choupo-Moting. He should have done better, as he pulled his first-time shot high and wide. Cameroon's passing perked up with the addition of Emana in the 63rd minute, but Japan was getting plenty of blue shirts back. The Lions then were resigned to a series of long balls and speculative efforts. None produced much until a thunderbolt by Mbia nearly earned a draw.

Needless to say, Cameroon are in big trouble and face a huge match against Denmark. Neither the Danes nor the Dutch will be quaking in their boots at taking on either of these two teams on the evidence from this match.

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup 2010: Group E Match Previews

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One Great Season

Group E opens play Monday morning, with Holland and Denmark pairing up in Johannesburg (7:30 am ET, ESPN) and Japan and Cameroon tangling in Mangaung/Bloemfontein (10 a.m. ET, ESPN).

The first match is a statement game for each side. Are the Dutch truly ready for a run at the ultimate prize? Or will Denmark's team prove to be stronger than Holland's individuals?

Below are some keys to the game for both sides:

+ Robben is out, fortunately this side is still loaded for bear
+ Must get stars to play with a team mentality
+ The goals came easy in friendlies; that scoring touch must remain sharp or frustration/doubt could set in
+ With its attack-at-every-opportunity approach, the Dutch can't get caught on the counter

+ Keep it tight at the back
+ Win the battle in midfield, maintain possession, limit Dutch touches on the ball
+ Scoring chances must be converted
+ Use team cohesiveness to nullify and frustrate the Oranje

Look at the Danish National Team's sponsor. How the aforementioned factors play out will determine whether the Danes present a stiff challenge to the Dutch, or put forth a flaccid effort.


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Cameroon v. Japan

A draw will likely do neither of these teams any good. Each should go all out for the three points to show the group they're a serious threat to get to the knockout stage.

+ Must put dreadful results from recent friendlies behind them
+ Use technical ability to stretch and penetrate
+ Find someone to step up and score goals
+ Maintain discipline at the back and quit conceding own goals

+ Use strength and speed to their advantage
+ Eto'o doesn't necessarily have to score, and may be more valuable as a decoy, but he must be a factor
+ If attention is focused on Eto'o, Webo is the potential dangerman
+ Maintain shape all over the field, play smart

Click here for Mike's bio and an archive of his previous stories.


World Cup Preview: Group E

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Dutch Look To Overcome
Past Cup Disappointments

One Great Season


The Netherlands are ranked No. 4 in the world in the FIFA rankings, and are making their ninth appearance in the World Cup finals. The Dutch are the heavyweights of the group, having cruised through the qualifying phase without dropping a point. They've also bagged a ton of goals in the lead-up friendlies.

In Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, they have two players who have been in phenomenal form for their club teams Inter Milan and Bayern Munich. Each played a key role in those teams' winning their respective leagues and cups and making it to the Champions League Final. But Robben got cute in their latest friendly, and has likely put himself out of the group phase with a tragi-comic injury.

BIO: About Mike Dick

Even so, the Dutch remain loaded. The names include van Persie, Huntelaar, van Bronckhorst, van Bommel, Kuyt, Babel, de Jong and van der Vaart. But, their Achilles heel could very well be at the back. The corps of defenders is not outstanding, and there is little doubt that veteran Edwin van der Saar, of Manchester United, would have been preferred between the sticks.

With more disappointments than successes in the big tournaments, fans of the Oranje are hoping this current squad can maintain their cohesiveness and team spirit and make a serious run at the trophy.

Player To Watch: Sneijder

Denmark is making its fourth appearance in a World Cup finals, and is 36th in the FIFA rankings. The Danes could be the danger team of this group, but injuries are worrisome. They too had an impressive qualification, topping a group that included Portugal and Sweden. Under the guidance of the wily manager and former star Morten Olsen, Denmark is always very well organized and a tough nut to crack.

MORE: Meet The 2010 OGS World Cup Writers

One of the injured is Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner, who may well be the key man. He's capable of brilliant goals or jaw-dropping misses. If he is healthy and has his scoring boots on, it will spell trouble for the Danes' opponents.

Liverpool's Daniel Agger is one of the anchors of the defense. Two others, rising Palermo star Simon Kjaer and Stoke City goalkeeper Thomas Sorensen, both are among the injury questions ... as is Feyenoord's Jon Dahl Tomasson.

Potential X factor Christian Poulsen of Juventus can score goals from midfield.

Player To Watch: Bendtner


Cameroon are making their sixth appearance in the World Cup finals, the most of any African nation.  They are 19th in the FIFA rankings.

The Indomitable Lions have a lot to prove in South Africa. French coach Paul Le Guen helped steer their qualification campaign in the right direction after a bad start, but the team's inconsistent play is a worry. African Footballer of the Year Samuel "it's all about me" Eto'o, of Inter Milan, had a solid season for the newly crowned Champions League winners, but hardly has the same support group around him with his national team. Who knows where his head is as the tournament approaches. He's threatened to not go to South Africa, after a war of words with Lions legend Roger Milla. That, coupled with a lackluster-at-best effort in a recent friendly, are hardly indications that Eto'o is ready to lead his nation into battle.

There is undoubted talent in the side. Striker Achille Webo of Mallorca has found the net in the friendlies, but that hasn't resulted in wins. Perhaps this squad can draw something from the home-continent advantage, and it surely needs a boost from somewhere if it is to progress to the knockout phase.

Player To Watch: Eto'o

Ranked 45th in the FIFA World Rankings, Japan is making its fourth World Cup finals appearance.

Japanese manager Takeshi Okada clearly has been hitting the sake, making the audacious statement that his side are aiming for a spot in the semi-finals. The Japanese do possess many technically sound footballers, but have lacked punch up front.

In their recent friendlies leading up to the tournament, they've actually had no problem scoring ... with an unfortunate string of own goals. Finding someone who can put it in the opposition's net obviously will be key, and Shinji Okazaki, of Shimizu S-Pulse, may well the be the man expected to deliver.

There is a wealth of talent in the midfield, with Keisuke Honda of CSKA Moscow, Yasuhito Endo of Gamba Osaka and Daisuke Matsui of Grenoble all solid. Former Celtic man Shunsuke Nakamura has been declared fit, and has scored some memorable free kicks in his careeer. He will be a definite threat at set pieces. Junichi Inamoto also adds experience to the side.

Player To Watch: Honda

1. Denmark
2. Netherlands
3. Cameroon
4. Japan