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Posted by Paul Klomp on 05/12/2010

With his provisional thirty-man squad, Holland coach Bert van Marwijk continued the well-balanced and uneventful selection procedure that has marked his two-year tenure in charge.

The one thing that did actually turn some heads in the selected squad, Van Nistelrooy not going to the World Cup, was actually not that big of a surprise to anyone who was paying close attention to Van Marwijk's earlier comments about Van Nistelrooy's actual performance for HSV. Add to that the fact that Van Persie will probably play as a lone striker come June, Van Nistelrooy was effectively deemed surplus to requirement.

The announcement of Holland's provisional team this week didn't exactly send shockwaves through the country, except for Ruud's absence and the inclusion of some up-and-coming youngsters from the Dutch league. The complete provisional team looks like this:

Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Sander Boschker (FC Twente) and Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht)
Defenders: Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Johnny Heitinga (Everton), André Ooijer (PSV), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburger SV), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Edson Braafheid (Celtic), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), Vurnon Anita (Ajax) and Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart)
Midfielders: Mark van Bommel (Bayern München), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), David Mendes da Silva (AZ), Wout Brama (FC Twente), Otman Bakkal (PSV), Orlando Engelaar (PSV), Stijn Schaars (AZ), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid), Ibrahim Afellay (PSV) and Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale)
Forwards: Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Jeremain Lens (AZ), Arjen Robben (Bayern München), Eljero Elia (Hamburger SV), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan), Robin van Persie (Arsenal) and Ryan Babel (Liverpool).

So what's actually new? Well, besides the absence of Van Nistelrooy, Van Marwijk prefers Dutch champion FC Twente's goalkeeper Sander Boschker to the talented Piet Velthuizen. He also selected Edson Braafheid, on-loan at Celtic from Bayern Munchen but not too impressive at both clubs, Vurnon Anita, a very small former central midfielder turned left-back at Ajax just this season, and Jeremain Lens, AZ's lightning-fast winger who has a great future ahead of him but isn't quite there yet. Question marks are in place as well for Khalid Boulahrouz, Ron Vlaar, David Mendes da Silva and Andre Ooijer, while one can also doubt the chances of Wout Brama and Otman Bakkal making it to Johannesburg to play Denmark, come the 14th of June. Therefore, in the end, the Dutch World Cup squad will probably look all too similar to the team that clinched WC qualification with a string of confident performances. And that isn't a bad thing at all.

So let's make some 'bold' predictions. Besides the three goalkeepers that are already on-board for the flight to South Africa, the following twenty players will join them in due time:
Defenders: Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Johnny Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (Hamburger SV), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Edson Braafheid (Celtic), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord) and Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart).
Midfielders: Mark van Bommel (Bayern München), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (AZ), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid), Ibrahim Afellay (PSV) and Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale).
Forwards: Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Arjen Robben (Bayern München), Eljero Elia (Hamburger SV), Klaas Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan), Robin van Persie (Arsenal) and Ryan Babel (Liverpool).

With this squad, Van Marwijk is able to field arguably the most creative footballing force on the planet, although the Spanish and Brazilians obviously have a legitimate claim to that title as well. In any case, the versatility in attack and midfield ensures that Holland may have a genuine shot at the title. With Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder in magnificent form, as they will show in the Champions League final later this month, Robin van Persie and Rafael van der Vaart having performed very well this season and a Mark van Bommel at his prime, who's to stop the Dutch?

At least the Holland squad has depth, albeit mainly in midfield and attack, with almost all players representing big clubs from equally big competitions. The only weak spot, the defence, has shown to be remarkably reliable during qualification and may thus deserve a little more faith than it is currently receiving.

Either way, this squad leaves Van Marwijk with plenty of choices to make. Will he, for example, field the dreamed-off 'Dutch Fantastic Four' Van der Vaart-Sneijder-Robben-Van Persie or will he prefer to include hard-working Dirk Kuijt in the starting line-up? What about the central midfielder that will play alongside Mark van Bommel; will he opt for the tenacious type in Nigel de Jong, the dynamic one in Demi de Zeeuw or the creative genius in Rafael van der Vaart? And what to do with youngsters such as Eljero Elia, Ryan Babel and Ibrahim Afellay, who are highly talented but can be fantastic one day but dreadful the other? All very difficult questions for which I wish Van Marwijk all the good luck in the world trying to answer them. Because Holland's World Cup fate probably lies hidden somewhere in those answers.


Comments

Posted by CONAN on 05/13/2010

Hi Paul,

I think they have a more than decent team on paper. I do believe their pace and counter attacks will cause trouble for many teams. Only concern is the defense and unity in squad. The main attacking unit with RVP, Robben, Van der vaart and Sneijder, there is little love and more hate between them. If they can unite and play football for one WC. They have every chance to have a shot on the trophy which they lack in their cabinet.

Cheers,

Posted by TomM on 05/13/2010

Who's to stop the Dutch? The same thing that always stops the Dutch- the Dutch themselves.

Posted by Jason on 05/14/2010

Finally, an article that recognizes just how strong The Netherlands are.

Posted by Brian johnson on 05/14/2010

I love this squad and am routing for them to do well, but I have to admit that pulling Brazil in quarters if they win their pool and Spain if they are runners up doesn't spell well for their chances. Quarters is where it will all happen. They have to upset one of the two favorites early in the tourney to have a chance...

Posted by david teunis on 05/14/2010

I would go along with the final 23 man squad chosen above and the exclusion of van nistelrooy doesnt come as a huge surprise, given that he hasnt played in a role at hamburg thats suitable to van maalwijk, would have been interesting had ruud gone back to man united on loan.
My biggest concern for the dutch is, injuries to key players (robben, sneijder, van persie) without these guys holland just wont be the same and the other huge factor is team unity, please dont fight amongst each other, put ego's aside for 4 weeks and lets lift the world cup for the first time, 2010 wereld kampioen'NEDERLAND'

Posted by #1Oranje on 05/14/2010

I couldn't agree more. We have a great chance to win. Provided everyone stays fit of course. But with our 'awesome foursome' thats not a given..

Posted by Ross Musselman on 05/14/2010

I love the way this article ignores the egos of the 'Fantastic Four'. If they would actually pass the ball to each other, I agree that they would be fantastic. But since Sneijder and van Persie have a hatred that would leave Zidane and Mattarazzi looking like BFF, I can't buy in. I hope I'm wrong, but they are going to have to show me on the field. As for leaving out van Nistelrooy, I understand van Marwijk's point, but if I desperately need a score and the team is going to throw everything forward, I'd like to have him on the pitch because he's a poacher unlike anyone else on the 30-man roster. Are his goals often ugly? Sure. But I'd rather win ugly than lose pretty.

Posted by manu on 05/14/2010

Strongest Dutch Team using the 2009 FC Barcelona Formation as an analogy/comparison:
GK: Stekelenburg (Valdes)
RB: Heitenga (Alves)
RCB: Ooijer (Piqué)
LCB: Van Bronckhorst (Puyol)
LB: Boulahrouz (Abidal)
CDM: Van Bommel (Touré)
RCM: Sneijder (Xavi)
LCM: Van der Vaart (Iniesta)
RF: Robben (Messi)
LF: Kuyt (Henry)
ST: Van Persie (Eto'o)

I predict that this team will beat England in the semifinals to play Spain in the final (where Spain will have beaten Germany in the semis).

The prospect of Spain vs Holland in the final is salivating!

Posted by Drew on 05/14/2010

They don't play that way though. They line up in a 4-2-3-1. I'd prefer something more like this.

GK: Stekelenburg
RB: Van der Wiel
RCB: Heitinga
LCB: Mathjissen
LB: Van Bronckhorst
RCM: De Jong
LCM: Van Bommel
RAM: Robben
CAM: Sneijder
LAM: Van der Vaart
ST: Van Persie

Posted by Ed on 05/14/2010

No doubt that the dutch are talented but can they translate all that talent to win?
Euro 2008, we were all raving and in awe at how the dutch dismantled opponents during the group stage only to fall against Russia.
The dutch need to step it up when the time comes and not fold when the pressure's on them.

Posted by peterson on 05/14/2010

i think the best footballing nation never to have won w/cup can reach far. With talisman van persie, van bommel , Robeen& sneider.

Posted by Sam on 05/14/2010

I still don't get it. Ruud is a much better striker than Robin, especially when you need an ugly goal scored. Did anyone forget the game against Russia in Euro 08? Also, Ruud's been back for a couple of months, Van Persie's been back for a couple of week. Add to the that the "love" relationship between Sniejder and Van Persie! I think Van Nistelrooy deserves a chance even if he's on the bench.

The key man to the whole team is Robben and he needs to stay healthy. He's the only one that can keep an aggressive opponent in check with his bursting speed. All the stars played against Russia in 2008 except for him and the result is they lost. I hope the coach realizes this and have him not fully involved in early games, his legs are needed against stronger opponents.

Posted by David on 05/14/2010

For the person below, there is no way Heitinga will start at RB over Van der Wiel, who is one of the most in form RBs on the planet.

Also, I would like to see, and hopefully van Marwijk will select:

Engelaar, Ooijer, and Anita
and leave out Vlaar (he's looked terrible this year I think), Braafheid (he's dropped off too and unimpressive and Celtic), and Affelay (way too inconsistent for me, Engelaar was better at PSV this year).

Bakkal or Brama both I think played better than Schaars this season, but van Marwijk seems to like Schaars.

Posted by Daweil on 05/14/2010

I have been rooting for the Dutch in international competitions for a long time. Somehow, when it counts, they find a way to self-destruct.

I'm afraid against a solid defensive team, the fancy Van Persie will not find the space and time to operate. You need ugly goals in those situations. That's why the Dutch need Van Nistelrooy, even if he's on the bench. Put in the second half and play a 2 strikers system.

Posted by Bart on 05/14/2010

Hatred between the Fantastic 4? Are you joking me? Are you lot actually saying that. Robin and Wesley had one argument at the EC, that is not hatred. Ross Musselman must never have watched the Dutch play, I can assure you that they do pass to each other. Hatred. lmao. You're hilarious.

Posted by Van Beer on 05/14/2010

Daweil, you've got the hard working Kuyt and Huntelaar to hammer in those ugly goals. I'm not worried about scoring, I'm worried about our defence. Heitinga and Mathijsen are sure starters and Van der Weil will do well as RB. I'm not too comfortable with the aging Gio as LB and if either Heitinga or Mathijsen gets injured, who are we then to count on? Boula whose barely played for Stuggart? grandpa oijer? inexperienced Vlaar?

Posted by Rene' Theelen on 05/14/2010

I agree with this article but as usual we are our own worst enemies when it comes to these tournaments and I don't want to get my hopes up. Go the oranje

Posted by EW on 05/15/2010

As a Dutch fans for 20 years, I hope the Dutch will finally conquer. However, I have to bet they won't. From Gullit to Bergkamp and now Sneijder; from Van Basten to Van Nistelrooy and now Robben or Van Persie, their line up always gives the fans with so much hope in each tournament, but every time we end up with disappointment and tears. But that's ok, because the spirit of Dutch Football will still shine in South Africa no matter what. For a team like this, it is not just about winning. The way they organize the attack, threading the ball thru midfield, and their exceptional creativity will always leave you a good memory.
So, who's to stop the Dutch? I don't know; just like nobody knows how they possibly missed 5 penalties in one match when they played against Italy at home in the Euro 2000 semi. Perhaps the answer is again "themselves", as Johan Cruyff commented before that game:"the Italian won't beat us, but the Dutch won't win either."
All they really need is the hunger to win

Posted by J on 05/15/2010

Are any of the Dutch strikers as proven in front of goal as Van Nistelrooy? I think it is a grave mistake to rely on RVP as the focal point of attack. Why is everyone saying RVP is a "world-beating striker?" He played second-fiddle to Henry and Adebayor at Arsenal but he is still rated?

Posted by Robin on 05/15/2010

if only real football was as easy like playing PES 2010....

Posted by eddie on 05/15/2010

fastastic four is great but it also implies a problem, who is the leader?. VP has argued with Sneijder about who kicked the freekick before. i do think that what the most important for netherland is a True leader on the pitch. when they cant score long time, each one will rely on and trust themselves only. its happened in 08 against Russia. i hope Van Bommel can do that, but be honest i dont think so.

Posted by yin-rong on 05/15/2010

While the attacking prowess of the Dutch team looks dangerous enough to cause problems in South Africa, the defence doesn't look like its good enough to qualify Holland as tournament favourites. It would be hard to imagine how the current back 4 will be able to resist the attackers from the top countries such as Spain, Brazil and Argentina.

Posted by abby on 05/15/2010

holland spain will be the dream final for me & of course Oranje coming up tops n lifting the wcup in safrica will be an awesome acheivement finally, which has eluded them time n time again.
the best team has finally let the wcup ghost to rest...it should read.
they will need sneijder's creativeness, robbern's lighting dribbles/shooting & van persie's finishing. with of course huntelaar/kuyt/rvdvaart/bommel's backing.
go total football go

Posted by Jager on 05/15/2010

Ruud will be missed in South Africa. He is a goal scorer through and through!

Posted by kayarash on 05/15/2010

I think they play very well. I can say that they always play well but the problem is they don't have something like winning soul; this team doesent have the character for lifting the trophy. when we look back upon Holland's Team, they had better teams comparing to this squad. Remember class of 1998 with a great coach called Hiddink? how about 1990 or even during the total football with Cruyff and the Gang in 1974? so, compare this one with others and you can see they are not in a position for winning the world cup. I am sure they are going to push forward and make troubles for all the popular teams but they can not win.

Posted by kayarash on 05/15/2010

I think they play very well. I can say that they always play well but the problem is they don't have something like winning soul; this team doesent have the character for lifting the trophy. when we look back upon Holland's Team, they had better teams comparing to this squad. Remember class of 1998 with a great coach called Hiddink? how about 1990 or even during the total football with Cruyff and the Gang in 1974? so, compare this one with others and you can see they are not in a position for winning the world cup. I am sure they are going to push forward and make troubles for all the popular teams but they can not win.

Posted by ROY on 05/15/2010

Am a huge dutch fan....That 4-2-3-1 formation is da bomb...if its engaged with a decent altitude n commitment...its surely DUTCH 4 d finals

Posted by droop on 05/15/2010

kuyt is a hardworker but i see no place for him in the starting 11 if we play 4-3-3,he is too slow to play on the left or right of the front 3 and the central role is RVP'S,also in the midfield sneijder and RVV r 2 similar and neva seem 2 play well 2gedda for Holland,Madrid or Ajax we shud play Van Bommel Sneijder and De Jong 2gether and bring on RVV if more creativity is required late in the game.

Posted by umair on 05/16/2010

all creativity will amount to nothing if dirk kuyt will be played

Posted by Allan on 05/16/2010

As an ardent African Dutch supporter, I wish them the best of luck.

The attack is surely formidable and with the super 4 at their best, this team can give all others a run for their money.

Remember the best form of defence (for me) is attack and needless to mention .....

However, having watched Ruud for such a long time, I get a feeling his abilities will be greatly missed.

Cheers,
Allan

Posted by Suraj on 05/16/2010

THeir defence is nonsense-they will end up leaking goals in a knockout tie

Posted by Alex on 05/16/2010

Great team, great players... i'm really expecting them to pull it off this time... it would be really disappointing if they don't, especially since they've never won the World Cup

Posted by Jack on 05/16/2010

The Dutch are capable of awesome football and the form of Robben in particular is frightening right now. However, that defence just looks very thin to me, and the Dutch always fall apart. There are well documented ego clashes in the dressing room too.

Posted by richard bierdrager on 05/17/2010

The Dutch will win the world cup if the coach can control the players egos and put it in use against the opponent like in 1988.
The only country that will be difficult for the dutch is Spain.
South American countries are not as good as they use to be, incl. Brazil.
So, having said this, the world cup will be wrapped with orange cloth when it is being carried back home.

Richbier

Posted by aneesh on 05/17/2010

comeon holland do it for us..we love u

Posted by Gabreil on 05/22/2010

The dutch are a master class and are their own enemy. On their day they are simply inbeatable and other days they just self destruct.... memories of euro 2008 still lingers on... i sincerely hope as an ardent supporter of the flying dutch that they will over come the ghosts of the past and win the world on the african soil....

Posted by Dolf on 05/26/2010

We should not listen to the media created f4 thingie.

we Dutch are able to beat any contender...

however history has taught us the fine line between being able and doing it.

and let us forget euro2008, k.!!

Posted by Pete on 06/08/2010

Nothing my friends! Nothing is gonna stop them this year from
winning. There is no fear, and there's no problem about potentially meeting brazil in an early round, the tournament is made out of many favorites, but the real champion will beat each and everyone of them at any time in any round.
Be confident, but not arrogant for a change. If not, I guess we should start thinking of sending the whole squand on discipline training with military in the middle east or African Liberia and get that personality problem and luxurious lifestyle out of the players. Show them what the Dutch courage and the Dutch pride should be really about.
Oh, and let's never forget EC'08, beating the Italians and especially the French was simply awesome :-)

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