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 Posted by ESPN Staff
Jun 14, 2008

Van Basten: No easy ride for Romania

Holland coach Marco van Basten will urge his players to give their all in their last Group C outing, even though a defeat against Romania on Tuesday would see pre-tournament favourites France and Italy eliminated from Euro 2008.

The Dutch clinched top spot in the 'Group of Death' and a place in the quarter-finals with their 4-1 demolition of the French in Bern last night.

That followed up their equally sensational 3-0 win over world champions Italy in their opening game, and Van Basten knows he can now rest some of his leading players against Romania with the knock-out stages in mind.

It may also be in his team's best interests - on paper at least - if Romania were to finish second, as Holland could yet meet the runners-up of this group in a possible semi-final clash.

Van Basten has not ruled out rotating his line-up for Tuesday, but the instructions will be loud and clear.

'We are first in the group whatever happens and we are very happy about that,' said the former AC Milan striker.

'But we have an obligation to play well (against Romania), to the players and the supporters.

'The result may not be too important for us and we do not have to win, but we should give ourselves some aims and see if we can achieve those aims.

'We have to do our utmost to play well in every match.'

Against the French, Holland were again in stunning form going forward.

Dirk Kuyt broke the deadlock with an eighth-minute header, but they had to weather a storm at the end of the first half and the start of the second period as France searched for an equaliser.

The introduction after the interval of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie proved decisive though, both players scoring to sandwich a consolation goal by France's former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry.

Wesley Sneijder applied the coup de grace for Holland with a fourth in injury time.

Van Basten felt his substitutions made a big difference.

'We needed more players to stretch France and in bringing on Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben for the second half, we had more chances to go deep and that helped us and gave us more space,' Van Basten added.

'With these players, it is difficult for our opponents. They are quick and technical so we were much more dangerous in second half.'

France coach Raymond Domenech acknowledges the tournament may be over for his team, who have failed to deliver the goods in their opening two games.

'It doesn't depend on us now,' he said.

'Holland now have six points and I am convinced they won't field the same players and won't have the same energy (against Romania).

'Both teams (France and Italy) have to keep hoping but seeing how things stand, you would have to be very optimistic to say Holland will beat Romania.'

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