The Netherlands take on Russia in Basel in what promises to be another exciting quarterfinal. So far, the favourites in both the previous quarterfinals have failed to advance- with Portugal losing to Germany, and Turkey beating Croatia in a penalty shootout. Guus Hiddink has the chance to take another underdog into the last four- just as he did with South Korea six years ago.
The Dutch have been one of the best teams on display in the tournament. They tore France and Italy apart on the counter, and their second string side was too good for Romania. Marco Van Basten is still likely to revert to his usual lineup- meaning the one that beat Italy and France by three goal margin. Only Nigel de Jong and Andre Ooijer are in danger of missing a potential semifinal clash against Spain or Italy, with both being on a yellow. The death of Khalid Boulahrouz’s prematurely born daughter has brought the Dutch even closer and they will want to win this for the Sevilla defender. The Dutch back four has remained solid so far, but Arshavin with his pace and trickery will be an altogether new challenge. The Dutch strength lies in its midfield and attack- Van Persie, Van Nistelrooy, Van der Vaart, Robben and Wesley Sneijder. Seven different players have scored for the Dutch in this tournament- they certainly are not reliant on one person alone.
Russia seemed an altogether different side against Lars Lagerback’s Sweden and the reason for their astounding display was their No.10- Andrei Arshavin. The Zenit St. Petersburg playmaker operating just behind Pavyluchenko, gave Russia space and pace, and the Swedish defence was constantly under threat. Right back Alexander Anyukov has also developed into a good player, and it will be a challenge for him, as the Dutch seem to prefer the left flank for their counter attacks. Fatigue might be a marginal problem for Russia, but their enthusiasm should more than make up for it. Russia’s poor finishing needs to improve- the Dutch aren’t going to allow you too many chances. Ivan Saenko, Dmitry Torbinsky, Denis Kolodin, Andrei Arshavin and Sergei Semak are all on yellows.
Guus Hiddink’s Russia lost 1-4 to Holland in July 2007. But this young Russian team is dangerous, and their performance against Sweden was enough for pundits to change their mind about this being a walk in the park for the Dutch. Marco Van Basten’s team to win this 3-1, with goals from Robben, Van Nistelrooy and Sniejder. Arshavin to score for Russia.