World Cup Group E Preview

The Netherlands are the no-brainer here. The Oranje will most likely dominate the group and look to improve their weak track record at World Cups. They play one of the most electrifying soccer in the world, and are looking to finally capitalize on it.

Their two best World Cup finishes came in 1974 and 1978. They finished runners-up in both tournaments. The Flying Dutchmen failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup and took an early out in the 2006 tournament when they lost to Portugal in the Round of 16.

The Netherlands are out for redemption, and it will come at the expense of the rest of Group E. I see Bert van Marwijk’s team advancing easily, as they should beat all three of their opponents. What will happen after that remains to be seen, but there is no question for me whether the Oranje will advance.

Holland dominated a mediocre qualifying group, finishing with an 8-0-0 record. Lead by an arsenal of top-strikers, they outscored their opponents 17-2. While they don’t have a superstar player, four of the six forwards on their 23-man roster have scored more than ten goals for the Oranje.

Cameroon and Denmark will be fighting for second place in the group and it will most likely come down to their matchup on June 19 to decide who will advance from the group along with Holland.

In my opinion, Cameroon has the slightly better chances to advance. They play on their home-continent and are used to the conditions the matches will be played in. While it is winter in South-Africa, the temperatures won’t resemble the cold weather in Scandinavia. The Lions will also receive more fan-support on their home-continent and that should push them over the edge in contention for second place in Group E.

Cameroon recovered from a slow start to the World Cup qualification, after they fired German coach Otto Pfister and hired Frenchman Paul Le Guen. They won their final four games of the qualifying stage to secure a spot in the final tournament.

The Lions rely heavily on team captain Samuel Eto’o. The 29-year-old striker has scored 44 goals for Cameroon and had a successful season winning the treble with Internazionale. Cameroon sported a 7-0-0 record in the two qualifying stages when Eto’o scored.

Denmark has a legitimate shot at second place. They failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2006 and Euro 08, but they have turned their fortunes around. In contrast to the Lions, they got off to a great start in the qualifying stage, winning five of their first six matches. They slowed down afterwards, but they can’t be overlooked.

Denmark won the European Championship in 1992, but have yet to come anywhere near this kind of success at the World Cup. They have a solid defense, but they are lacking a true goal scorer.

While Jon Dahl Tomasson is supposed to assume that role, his age might prevent him from being the game changer coach Morten Olsen would like him to be. At 33 Tomasson is past his prime and he won’t be able to keep up with the younger scorers in the tournament.

Japan is the odd-man out in the group. They looked good in a close loss to England last week, but have generally lost to the better teams. They beat who they were supposed to beat, but haven’t surprised anybody. And they won’t start doing it at this World Cup.

No surprises in the odds here, either. Netherlands is the heavy favorite and you will have to invest $193 to win $100 if you like them to win the group. Pinnacle sees Denmark having a better chance to advance than Cameroon, but neither one of the odds offers great value. Denmark’s advancing runs at +104, Cameroon’s at +117.

If you are feeling lucky and you think the Netherlands will struggle early and not win the group, both the lines for Denmark (+481) and Cameroon (+516) carry some value.

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