Even a campaigner as experienced as "Gio", however, is hard pressed to remember a Dutch side with so much devastating attacking potential. ""Are our options upfront frightening? Yes, I believe they are," Van Bronckhorst told SI.com after the Netherlands destroyed Ghana 4-1 in a recent pre-World Cup friendly in Rotterdam. The Dutch effectively toyed with their opposition and could have easily scored more goals, despite the absence of Bayern Munich winger
In terms of sheer firepower, the Dutch have indeed enough impact subs to win games twice over. In the first half,
But questions about their own durability remain. A bad mistake by Hamburg center back
"We defend well as team because our positional play is very good", said van Bronckhorst. "It's easier for us at the back because of the great protection we get from the two holding midfielders,
Much of the credit for their new-found stability must go to manager
Van Bommel's pragmatism was also in evidence after the Ghana game, when the 33-year-old midfielder was remarkably reluctant to talk up his team's chances in South Africa. "I don't know how we will do. We're not favorites, we are outsiders", he insisted. "Can we win the World Cup? I don't really want to answer that. Let's just say that our chances are pretty good." Van Bronckhorst was a little less hesitant. "We have tremendous confidence in our ability and the spirit in the team is very good", he said. "If we keep working hard, concentrating and playing our football, we can beat any team in the world". On the evidence of Tuesday night, it's tough to argue with that assessment.