Tuesday, June 8, 2010

World Cup - Netherlands

The babysitter, uh, excuse me, manager of the Dutch team is Bert van Marwijk. The talent he has at his disposal is as good as any team in the tournament, and he honestly does not need to do much tactically. What he needs to do is control the, let's call it eccentric, personalities of his superstars.

Many think the Oranje are weak defensively, and that may be true, but I think there is just enough at the back to keep them advancing through the later rounds. The goalkeeper is shaky, two of the defenders are "veterans," to put it kindly, and Johnny Heitinga is probably the most reliable guy in the back 4.

The real defense will need to be played in midfield. Luckily for Holland, Nigel de Jong and Mark van Bommel are both outstanding at this. De Jong might be the best holding midfielder in the world.

The attacking ability of this team is just ridiculous, even with Arjen Robben nursing an injury. Young left winger Eljero Elia may actually keep Robben on the bench when he does return. The lightning quick 23 year old scored 5 goals from the wing and created another 7 in only 20 appearances for Hamburg in the Bundesliga. Ibrahim Afellay, Ryan Babel, Klass-Jan Huntelaar and their big reputations will start most matches from the subs bench.

Dirk Kuyt of Liverpool will do all the running and hard work up front, even though his strike partner, Robin van Persie, believes Kuyt is not good enough to be in the Dutch team. Van Persie himself has a good chance to be the leading scorer in the tournament. And those opportunities will be created by Wesley Snejder. He just led Inter Milan to a league, cup, and Champion's League winning season, and he will pull the strings in the center of Holland's midfield. That is, if he and Robben have sorted out their feud.

So, to summarize, it all comes down to the manages ability to control the egos of the squad. If he can maintain harmony in the Dutch camp, they just may get all the way to the final, facing an opportunity to finally exorcize the ghosts of 1974 and 1978.

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