Déjà vu for deadly Dutch
Holland begin their Euro 2012 campaign against Denmark, the same opposition that greeted them first up in their World Cup campaign two years ago, and it's fair to assume they would settle for a similar outcome.
On that occasion, a miscued header from Simon Poulsen brought an unwitting own-goal from Daniel Agger to hand the Dutch the initiative straight after half-time, before Agger's former Liverpool teammate Dirk Kuyt wrapped-up a 2-0 victory late on with an easy finish from close range.
Little has changed in terms of personnel since then, so this should be fairly straightforward for the Dutch if their preparations have been right and we reckon Holland to win to nil at 13/8 is where you'll find best odds-against value.
At the last three major tournaments, 10 out of 13 all-European opening group games have been win to nil victories, nine of them going the way of the favourites, with a further two goalless draws contributing to a total of 14 clean sheets.
The assumption is that defensive minds are sharper after a short break followed by three weeks of tactical drilling, an edge that soon dissipates as fatigue from a long club season quickly starts to catch up in an intense group schedule.
It's a pattern that Holland have adhered to diligently with tidy victories over Serbia & Montenegro (1-0) at the World Cup in 2006 and Italy (3-0) at Euro 2008 prior to their stroll against Morten Olsen's men in Johannesburg.
Denmark might have been an interesting proposition at this tournament had they not been drawn in the Group of Death last December but they copped for three of the top five teams in the world, according to the FIFA rankings at the time.
If the Danes are to pull off a shock, then it seems almost certain that Christian Eriksen must play a significant role. The Ajax playmaker is the most exciting new addition to this fixture but Dutch familiarity with the threat he provides in the Eredivisie suggests they should find a way to shackle him.
However, there remains a slight element of doubt regarding the Dutch approach in that area and whether Bert van Marwijk will start the game with two defensive-minded midfielders or just Mark van Bommel, a source of some debate in the build-up to the tournament.
The Oranje were shamed somewhat by the lasting impression they left in South Africa and they will be keen to restore their national image at this event by putting focus back on the football.
Nonetheless, we expect van Marwijk to stick with a tried and trusted formula in a game that Holland dare not lose with much tougher tests lurking on the horizon.
Read Mike Holden's preview of Group B's other clash on Saturday: Germany v Portugal.
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