Dutch have no worries upfront, but defence vulnerable

June 2nd, 2012 - 5:46 pm ICT by IANS  

Arsenal The Hague, June 2 (IANS) As runners-up of World Cup, the Netherlands will settle for nothing less than the title at Euro 2012, but the Dutch seem defensively more vulnerable than two years ago.

In his 4-2-3-1 system, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk has room for one central striker and he can choose between the top scorer of the English Premier League, Robin van Persie, and the German Bundesliga top scorer, Klaas Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04).

Van Persie scored 37 goals in 48 matches for Arsenal this season, while Huntelaar netted 48 times in 48 matches for Schalke 04. Both played six games for the Netherlands in the past season, in which Van Persie scored four times and Huntelaar scored five goals. Huntelaar became top scorer in Euro 2012 qualifying with twelve goals in eight matches, reported Xinhua.

During the final phase of the qualifying campaign van Marwijk opted for Huntelaar as central forward when both players were available.

The coach could also play both, with van Persie in a role from the left, right or as a central midfielder. However, this could mean the exclusion of other stars like Wesley Sneijder or Arjen Robben, with also Dirk Kuyt and Ibrahim Afellay in contention.

“Of course Huntelaar and van Persie can play together, but I’m also happy that Wesley Sneijder is fit again and Arjen Robben is doing great things at Bayern Munich,” van Marwijk told Dutch magazine Voetbal International.

“However, I’m not sure if they will play together at the Euros. Van Persie is an all-round attacker, but he showed he is also a killer in the box. Klaas Jan is a goal getter and is always getting better with the squad. I believe I will choose the squad with which I can have the most success.”

Van Marwijk led ‘Oranje’ to the final of the 2010 World Cup final, in which they lost to Spain. In South Africa the Dutch played with the solid defensive midfield block Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel.

Over the past two years van Marwijk experimented with the more dynamic Kevin Strootman or more creative Rafael van der Vaart alongside captain van Bommel, but as the tournament approaches Van Marwijk seems to be going back to his familiar couple.

A lack of defensive depth forced van Marwijk to call up 18-year-old Jetro Willems (PSV) and veteran defender Wilfred Bouma (PSV). Midfielder Stijn Schaars (Sporting CP) is also a candidate to be lined up as left back.

The alternatives for the other three defenders Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen are not of the same quality as well.


Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma), Michel Vorm (Swansea), Tim Krul (Newcastle)

Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (Malaga), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Wilfred Bouma (PSV Eindhoven), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Jetro Willems (PSV Eindhoven)

Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona), Mark van Bommel (AC Milan), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (Sporting Lisbon), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham)

Forwards: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Luuk de Jong (FC Twente), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Luciano Narsingh (Heerenveen), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).

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