Sneijder: Difficult to focus on Finns

Sneijder: Difficult to focus on Finns

Published Sep. 5, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

Holland midfielder Wesley Sneijder admits the thrill of Friday's 11-0 win over San Marino has made it difficult to maintain focus on Tuesday's important clash with Finland.

Holland are on the brink of qualifying for Euro 2012, and currently hold a six-point lead over nearest rivals Sweden with three games left for both teams in Group E, including a head-to-head clash in Solna on October 11.

In all likelihood Holland will have tied up first place by then, and in theory they could achieve that on Tuesday, but only in the unlikely event that Sweden drop points against San Marino.

Sneijder scored twice in the crushing win over the group minnows, but he knows Finland will be far more difficult to break down, particularly in Helsinki.


The 11-0 win was the heaviest ever achieved by a Holland team, and Bert van Marwijk's side are currently ranked number one in the world by FIFA.

"All those numbers are nice,'' Sneijder said, "but Tuesday's game is just another we must win.

"And Finland are a tough team, especially over there. They are well organised, and at home we found it hard against them.

"And after an 11-0 victory it is extra hard to stay sharp. But we have the same setting as against San Marino, we can win that game."'

Holland edged the Finns 2-1 last September in Rotterdam, and have won all of their seven games in the group so far.

"We are growing. Actually, we grow with each game,'' Sneijder told the Dutch team's official website.

"Two or three years ago we would not have won 11-0 in San Marino. I think this is the best Oranje team I've played in.''

Sneijder attributes much of the credit to coach van Marwijk, who led the side to the World Cup final last year and continues to see his players improve.

"I think the coach has grown over the past three years,'' Sneijder said.

"I knew him personally as a trainer, when he started. In the beginning it's all restraint. From both sides, though. That's always the case with a new coach.

"But soon you could see that he was among the players, and that he had an important role.''

Finland enjoyed a handsome 4-1 win over Moldova in Helsinki on Saturday but look to be out of the running for second place, with Sweden six points ahead of them.

The Swedes suffered a 2-1 defeat on Friday to Hungary, who now stand alongside second-placed Sweden with 15 points but have played an additional match and possess an inferior goal difference.

Sweden captain Zlatan Ibrahimovic is expected to recover from a minor niggle to line up against San Marino, and he knows the team owe their supporters a strong performance.

"We should not hang our heads. We will not repeat mistakes, but go out and play how we know,'' he said.

"There is no single fault, it was the team that was broken.''

Hungary travel to face fifth-placed Moldova at the Zimbru stadium in Chisinau.

Striker Imre Szabics, who scored Hungary's opening goal against Sweden, is not getting carried away about the chances of finishing in second place.

"It's not expected that we will qualify from this group,'' he told

"Now we have more of a chance, but other teams have to make mistakes.''