Het Nederlands Elftal voor Europees Kampioenschap Voetbal 2008


Marco van Basten has just announced his squad for the Euro 2008 tournament in Austria/Switzerland. I’m the typical meddler in the Oranje setup and always keen to offer my views about the team, no matter how academic it may be – because I really love the Orange team of the Netherlands !

As you can see, the team has the following members.

(**By the way, just so you know, there is some sign of Mercury retrograde going on somewhere with the Internet connections becoming somewhat choked with some traffic on some major sites or it’s probably some sign that astrology websites are trying really hard to make people believe that their predictions about this retrograde is true! People, this is business on the Internet – if they can’t make money off it, what’s the point of having this wonderful invention isn’t it? My point is – I won’t know when this article would go online but at the moment I’m logging it down via Windows Live Writer and saving the draft for use later. If this stuff becomes obsolete when Euro 2008 comes and passes by, try to understand)

*Numbers are in listing order and not in squad shirt number which are not available to me at this time (28/5/2008)


1. Edwin van der Sar – fresh from the European Champions League success, he’d be in top form for the Euro 2008. The swansong of his career, no doubt but one where he can possibly make his mark.

2. Maarten Stekelenburg – I don’t really know how good he can be but he had a mixed game against Belarus in one of the qualifiers but would there be any goalkeeper in Holland these days to fill his place? I really think that there is a dearth of good goalies these days but more on this later.

3. Henk Timmer – old fart. Maybe a more steady pair of hands than the young Stekelenburg but certainly lacked the spring with his age. I think that he’s quite a liability for the team but since Holland had no other good enough keepers, well….


4. Wilfred Bouma – I’d have to hand it to Bouma. He was out of the Oranje setup for so long that even the likes of Kevin Hofland and Roy Makaay would be his best post-Oranje comrades – but he raised his game during his time now at Aston Villa and did well to secure a return. I’d say that he’s quite good.

5. Tim de Cler – sadly, I know that he was at Ajax Amsterdam and he was at AZ Alkmaar for a time and is now a Feyenoord player but that’s about it. In Football Manager, he’s a decent player but that would be a rather subjective analysis. I’ve seen him play a number of times and he’s nowhere near the quality of Arthur Numan – doesn’t know how to support the attack and caught out wide more than a number of times, causing Bouma or Mathijsen to wipe his butt for him.

6. John Heitinga – signed for Atletico Madrid recently after a long spell at Ajax. The Dutch team would miss him more than others. He’s no stranger to the tournament, featuring in Euro 2004 before. I’d think that he’s a decent squad member.

7. Joris Mathijsen – I’d said it once and would say it again – the Oranje would not win anything with this player at the back. I watched his games with Hamburg SV and thought that he’s just ordinary – fairly ordinary.

8. Mario Melchiot – poor Mario; struggled as captain of nearly relegated Wigan Athletic but he does look a good proposition for the team after helping the team save their Premiership status near the end of the 2007/2008 season. This may be his final tournament – who knows.

9. Andre Ooijer – I must say that he’s already 2 years older since the last World Cup in 2006 and at 33, would be difficult to maintain the sort of performance for full 90-minutes – like what Frank de Boer was during his last fling with Euro 2004. Still, I do wish that he starts the matches.


10. Ibrahim Afellay – the only PSV Eindhoven player selected. Gone were the days when PSV players run their national team rosters white and red – Numan; Jonk; Cocu; Zenden; Ooijer for the great World Cup 1998 team for instance. Ibrahim was a target of Arsene Wenger before but the Dutch-Moroccan opted to extend his stay in the Eredivisie in a gesture of loyalty to the club – unlike Samir Nasri or Franck Ribery who made their names at French club Olympique Marseille and made noises about  playing in ‘better’ leagues elsewhere. Since he’s good enough to be selected by both van Basten and sighted by Wenger, I’d reckon that this player can have a beneficial tournament even if the team comes up short.

11. Giovanni van Bronckhorst – donkey at defense but better in midfield. Still, he’s getting real old now at 33. The speed and the silky runs would not be seen again…

12. Orlando Engelaar – the FC Twente man who made the club proud by helping the hitherto unknown Dutch team in qualifying for the Champions League qualifying stage 2008/2009. He’s the only FC Twente man to have been selected for the Oranje for a long time now. He should be something – and a rising Dutch star. He apparently had the height (1.96 metres tall) and according to Wikipedia, had the great passing ability. Now, why don’t Arsene Wenger or PSV sign him now?

13. Nigel de Jong – I really like this guy -during his time at Ajax and his stint at Hamburg SV. He’s a methodical worker and reasonably fair player (bookings record) but don’t expect him to score at Euro 2008; he’s only scored 8 goals for Ajax in 96 games and 2 for Hamburg in 59 games. As a defensive midfielder, however, he’s a little on the small side (1.74 metres) and even shorter than me by 4 cms and I consider myself quite short. I wonder if Mark van Bommel would have gone in his place had the PSV legend opted to.

14. Wesley Sneijder – If Holland were to have a fighting chance to reach the knockout stages (notice that I didn’t even hope for the team to even win it this time), Sneijder would really have to be at his inspired best. A lot would rest on this Real Madrid man whose gameplay has improved since leaving Eredivisie for the tougher La Liga Espanola.

15. Rafael van der Vaart – I’d rate him slightly lower than Sneijder in terms of skill because I saw him play for Hamburg SV on TV and I don’t think that his end product is good enough for his strikers to use. Having said that, I do think that his experience in big matches would be most vital where his other midfield counterparts lack. Think of his as another Aliaksandr Hleb.

16. Demy de Zeeuw – no, I don’t think that he’s good. I’d like to really appreciate his performances but when van Basten has suddenly opted to pick up Engelaar and Afellay, you’d think that suddenly even the Dutch midfield slots have run barren. Would Philip Cocu care to play? (*snicker evilly*)


17. Ryan Babel – some people hate him but I really think that he’s a good player. He has the speed, the finish (remember the goal he scored against the Arsenal in the Champions League quarterfinals 2007/2008?) and the attacking mind to operate in his favoured position. I even told my brother that what he did against the Arsenal can only be good for Holland. Yes, Holland is even above the Arsenal in my view.

18. Klaas Jan Huntelaar – a rather slow player but I’d think that his goalscoring feats cannot be discounted so easily. It remains to be seen where he’d slot into the team.

19. Dirk Kuyt – really hardworking player who made the Arsenal defence wary all night. He’s improved quite a lot this season and I’d think that Holland can count him as an ace up their sleeves.

20. Ruud van Nistelrooy – where would Holland be without their perennial key striker? I mean perennial as in the Oranje must have an acclaimed top striker to be called a world power in football – think Marco van Basten for Euro 2008 and World Cup 1990; Dennis Bergkamp for World Cup 94 and 98; Patrick Kluivert for World Cup 98 and Euro 2000; etc. I’d always mixed reactions to van Nistelrooy as I never liked Man Ure players and top goalscorers but I acknowledge that he is a talisman for the team’s morale where most of its members are just above average.

21. Robin van Persie – If he can keep injury-free for the tournament – that’s already a blessing in itself. I wonder how much of an impact he can have for the team but van Persie at the top of his game is a true Dutch legend in the making.

22. Arjen Robben – that’s why I think that Holland has a good attack but weak in other departments. A fit Robben is also a key player for the team’s cause.

23. Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink – VOH is a Celtic hitman and with good reason – he has scored decisive goals to seal the Scottish Premier League and his age is just about right for a striker to be at the top of his game. Pity that most of Holland’s big grunts are quite slow in pace but I’d think that he would be really dangerous in corners and setpieces.


Summary –


Not the most impressive squad as usual – in fact, one of the weakest Oranje teams for a major tournament in history. But then again, let me draw your attention to the time when Holland sent one of their strongest squads to Euro 96 and got a severe thrashing at the hands of England 4-1. That was when the team was racked with internal squabbles (Edgar Davids was sent home etc.) and what not – but this time, van Basten has resumed his policy of picking players without star egos although I should also point out that he has very little to work with, just to begin.

I’m just curious about the progress of players like Feyenoord’s Roy Makaay; Nick Hofs; Theo Lucius; Denny Landzaat; or PSV’s Danny Koevermans; or Ajax players. Ajax has always been the Dutch powerhouse – to supply the national team with adequate Oranje supplements but the trend has dropped a long time ago for major tournaments. Even Feyenoord no longer counts as good reinforcement for the Dutch national team cause.

I know that FC Twente’s Sander Boschker and Denny Landzaat has been dropped from the squad and with good reason – Denny has been crap since he joined Wigan and Boschker to me is not that different from Bas Roorda or namesake Sander Westerveld.

A pity that Sevilla CF’s Khalid Bouhlarouz is also omitted from the squad – I’d think that he’s a better defender than Joris Mathijsen but van Basten has got that undivided faith in the latter and he calls the shots.

I’d reckon that the weakest department in the team should be the midfield and the defense.

Who would be the anchor at defense? Mathijsen? Heitinga? Bouma? All are ok players but we need more than just ordinarily better players – we need some sort of defensive rock at the back in the mould of Jaap Stam or Frank de Boer or even the old days of Danny Blind; Stan Valckx; Kees van Wonderen or Ernest Faber –  someone to man the defense line and shout at his players exactly what he thought of them. There’s no such leader at the back. Andre Ooijer is my favourite defender at the moment but he’s far too quiet and nice guy to do that job. It has got to take a nasty sonnavubitch to haul the players by their collars and kick their shins when they let their egos rule their heads that they are representing the famous Oranje at that moment.   

In midfield, there are only 2 good midfielders, 2 experienced but fairly above average players and 3 raw ones. Demy De Zeeuw is not good; van Bronckhorst is still a donkey no matter how you look at him and Nigel de Jong is no Wim Jonk. I wouldn’t reckon that latest additions Ibrahim Afellay and Orlando Engelaar would even get a game during the tournament but they could prove me wrong. The team would have to depend a lot on Van der Vaart and Sneijder to deliver the goods but even their abilities have its limitations, like their height (challenging for aerial possession) and their small frame. Edgar Davids was pint-sized alright but he also did a mighty fine name for himself. It’s time for the duo to prove themselves at this stage. There’s no better time after a rather poor World Cup 2006.

The strongest point of contention would be the attack. I’d have to commend van Basten for this selection as this is one of the more convincing attack Holland would have in years although I should think that 7 forwards named is a little too much. Kuyt should get games at this tournament; van Persie is treading a fine line on his injury proneness and Robben may also be having a similar fear. A lot would rest on Van Nistelrooy this time again but you can count on Ryan Babel to make the step up on time. I’d rank Vennegoor of Hesselink and Klaas Jan Huntelaar as outsiders as they’re probably chosen for their goalscoring feats as opposed to their ability to transform the game to their rhythm. They’re not the sort who would contribute too much but I stand corrected.



This entry was posted in Voetbal-Oranje. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s