NETHERLANDS vs SWEDEN, Amsterdam, 19/11/08

The Netherlands, some say Holland, will be without several key players as they attempt to wrestle the UFWC title away from Sweden in this friendly clash. Ajax hitman Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is missing with a torn left ankle ligament, while Real Madrid’s Arjen Robben has a thigh injury. Dirk Kuyt, who has scored five goals in seven league appearances for Liverpool this season, will battle it out with clubmate Ryan Babel and Arsenal’s Robin van Persie for the striking roles.

Dutch Coach Bert van Marwijk has another headache in the goalkeeping position, with Edwin van der Sar now retired from international football, and Feyenoord’s Henk Timmer struggling with a finger injury. FC Utrecht rookie Michel Vorm might get a start. Nigel de Jong, Dirk Marcellis and Maarten Stekelenburg will all miss the game.

Sweden will be without stat striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, after coach Lars Lagerback decided to give him a break. ‘Zlatan has played two matches per week during a long period,’ said Lagerback. Olof Mellberg will also be rested. Johan Elmander and Tobias Linderoth are both injured.

The last two meetings between the sides were in 2004. A Euro 2004 Quarter Final match ended 0-0 after extra time, with the Netherlands winning 5-4 on penalties. Two months later, the sides drew 2-2 in a friendly in Solna.

The Netherlands are currently ranked 5th in the UFWC All-Time rankings, having won 44 title matches. Sweden are 10th, having won 27.

About Paul Brown

Paul is a freelance journalist and author. He created the UFWC in 2003, and subsequently wrote the Unofficial Football World Champions book. He can be found on Twitter @paulbrownUK.