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Time for total football

The Dutch have good reason to give Japan plenty of respect before their Group E match on Saturday and not just because of the Blue Samurai's surprise victory over Cameroon in their World Cup opener.

sports Updated: Jun 19, 2010 00:18 IST

The Dutch have good reason to give Japan plenty of respect before their Group E match on Saturday and not just because of the Blue Samurai's surprise victory over Cameroon in their World Cup opener.

The Dutch, who will be looking for improvement on their 2-0 win over Denmark, still have fresh memories of their shock at being outplayed by the Japanese for an hour in a friendly last year. The Dutch ran out 3-0 winners in that match in Enschede and a similar result on Saturday would suit them fine as they look to progress.

“The first hour of that match Japan was in charge but finally we won,” Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder said. “Our coach said that was the only match our opponents really made it difficult for us, so let that be the only one.”

Robben’s training

The Netherlands' most potent weapon on the wing, Arjen Robben, completed a full training session on Friday, raising the possibility he might play. “Today was the first time Robben took part in the whole training session so that's somethin

THE ODDS

England win: 1.25

Draw: 6
Algeria win: 10
g,” van Marwijk said.

Japan’s win over Cameroon on Monday ended a miserable run of results for Takeshi Okada's team and so he will again forgo the traditional short passing game for a more compact defensive style.

Japan to defend

Defensive midfielder Yuki Abe also had bad news for anyone hoping for a free-flowing contest. “The Dutch themselves think their strength lies in attack so what we need to do is try to wind them up and frustrate them,” he said. The question is how long the Blue Samurai will be able to hold out for against the likes of the tireless Sneijder in midfield.

Group Position

A win for the Dutch would take them to six points and give them the luxury of resting players in the final game against Cameroon. Similarly, if Japan win, they can rest players too.

Strategy

Holland may not alter their style. Mark van Bommel will guard the goal, with fullbacks free to get forward from the flanks. Japan may not go for a draw, but will need Keisuke Honda to lead the attack.