Arjen Robben’s penalty drama may dominate the Dutch sports pages in recent days, but at Holland’s pre-Euro 2012 training camp in Switzerland, his teammates are preoccupied with different matters. Who’ll play during the upcoming two friendlies: away against Bayern Munich on Tuesday and at home against Bulgaria on Saturday? And who’ll be among the quartet of players to be dropped from the current shortlist when the final squad is announced early next week?
Vurnon Anita is doing his utmost to avoid a repeat of 2010 when he failed to join the final squad ahead of the World Cup. The Ajax player has matured no end in the meantime. This season, he showed his worth for the Amsterdam team, which regained its balance when Anita was positioned right in front of the defence line following the winter break. That tactical move proved to work like magic. Ajax won every match and came back from a seemingly hopeless 11 points behind to overtake the leaders AZ and clinch the Dutch league title.
“It’s been a tough season,” Anita admits on a sunny evening in Lausanne, following a long and strenuous training session, attended by several hundred Dutch and Swiss football enthusiasts. “The trick is to rest up, eat well and sleep a lot. I was given a week’s rest after the end of the season and that helped to restore my energy levels.”
Giving all he’s got at the training sessions and doing very little in between is Anita’s strategy. “I open up my laptop or listen to some music, and that’s it,” he says with a smile.
Crazy Legs, as he’s nicknamed, realizes that he faces tough competition for the Holland left-back position, left vacant by injured PSV player Erik Pieters. But the national team manager knows that Anita performs well as a defensive midfielder too. His versatility may help the little Ajax player get on Bert van Marwijk’s final list.
Meanwhile, Anita reflects on Tuesday’s Bayern friendly. “It’s a strange set-up having a club team play a national side.” He hopes Robben will have pulled himself back together again. “We’ll give him a warm reception. "He is a very important player, so he will undoubtedly be looked after well."
The match against Bayern 2 June.
The Holland manager will name the final 23-man party to travel to Poland and Munich is followed by home friendlies against Bulgaria on 26 May, Slovakia on 30 May and Northern Ireland onUkraine before UEFA’s 29 May deadline.