Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk thoroughly enjoyed leading Monday evening’s training session in Helsinki’s Olympic stadium.
He saw a team in high spirits, keeping the right balance between focus and fun, following their record 11-0 win against San Marino on Friday. Another good result against Finland could earn the Dutch their ticket to next year’s European Championships. But Bert van Marwijk warns against too much optimism:
“Every victory makes it harder to win the next match and this time we’re facing a very tough opponent. We don’t need to be afraid of anyone, but we have to do our best to reach our top level. We have to give everything we have. It’s all turned out very well so far.”
Holland currently occupy the top spot on the FIFA World Rankings and are one of the most consistently successful teams in recent history. Under Van Marwijk’s stewardship, the Dutch have played 39 matches and lost only two. Now, they lead Euro 2012 qualifying group E with a perfect record and a 32-5 goal difference. The key is focus, says Van Marwijk, it’s all about creating the right mentality, the right frame of mind.
“You can’t get focused at the very last moment, just before a match. That’s far too late. You always have to be ready for the next match. You need to accept that you have to start all over again, which is always hard for a sportsman. But when you’ve understood that and you achieve the right frame of mind, you will have improved a great deal. So far, we’ve done quite well in this respect during my three years as coach and I expect that the Finland match will be no different.”
The right mood
The emphasis of Monday night’s training session was, once again, on precision passing and keeping up the pace. Quite some time was spent on finishing from low crosses, with one striker creating space for a second. But most of the training consisted of an eleven-a-side game on just over half the pitch. And the level of play was exceptionally high for a training exercise.
“The boys feel they’re getting better all the time and just enjoy being together on the pitch, no matter whether it’s a match or a training session. The best thing is to have fun, because you can be perfectly motivated but it will never work if you don’t enjoy what you’re doing. That’s how things are in normal working life too. You need a combination. Fortunately, the whole team radiates fun at the moment.”