New-look Oranje (September 2012)

Belgium-celebrate-v-Holland_2812230

Louis van Gaal presided over his second stint for the Netherlands with a 4-2 loss against a resurgent Belgium side packed with talent. It does look like the Dutch’s perennial rivals boast a more convincing team these days with the bulk of the ‘Red Devils’ players plying their trade in the Premier League. 

This week, LVG returns to familiar ground with the World Cup qualifiers which he would be keen to erase the demons of the 2002 edition at South Korea / Japan that he failed to accomplish, even with the last-known best Oranje squad blessed with the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Edgar Davids, Jaap Stam, Edwin van der Sar and more. His immediate task is to negotiate the tricky encounter with Turkey who could well be itching for a return to the global stage.

Van Gaal has named his squad for the match against Turkey on 7 September 2012 as follows –

Goalkeepers

Tim Krul (Newcastle United)

Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma)

Michel Vorm (Swansea City)

Hardly any surprises here – Stekelenburg performed rather well in the disastrous Euro 2012 campaign whereas the other two understudies are top keepers for their respective Premier League clubs.

Defenders

John Heitinga (Everton)

Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord Rotterdam)

Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord Rotterdam)

Joris Mathijsen (Feyenoord Rotterdam)

Ricardo van Rhijn (Ajax Amsterdam)

Nick Viergever (Alkmaar Zaanstreek)

Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa)

Jetro Willems (PSV Eindhoven)

Daryl Janmaat is the new inclusion here, with the other Feyenoord boys and van Rhijn having been selected for the match against Belgium. Jetro Willems established himself as first choice leftback and the PSV player should be looking to make this position his own for years to come. There’s no place for Stefan de Vrij, though, who would be out of action for about a month after an injury suffered in Feyenoord’s 2-0 loss away to Sparta Prague in the Dutch club’s twice-failed quest for Europa League qualification after they threw their earlier Champions League ticket to the dumpster by losing to Dynamo Kyiv.

All in all, the Dutch defence worries me most. This is probably the most unsettled defence the Elftal had in years with badly-needed leadership and stability at the back which both Joris Mathijsen and John Heitinga failed to invoke in the last four games or so.

However, I’d be fair by saying that I’ve not watched Martins Indi, van Rhijn and Viergever in action before, so for them to be called-up to the national side should mean something.    

Midfielders

Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord Rotterdam)

Urby Emanuelson (AC Milan)

Leroy Fer (FC Twente Enschede)

Wesley Sneijder (Internazionale Milan)

Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven)

Other than Wesley Sneijder and relatively newcomer, Strootman, I’m most excited about what Leroy Fer and Jordy Clasie could bring to the equation. I’ve only managed them in Football Manager games, so I don’t really know much about them. Van Gaal elected not to call-up Rafael van der Vaart, Nigel de Jong, Ibrahim Afellay and Gregory van der Wiel for the fact that these players have just moved clubs and haven’t been playing regularly for their old clubs.

nigel de jong ac milan

van der vaart hamburg

ibrahim afellay schalke

There’s no place for AZ hotshot Adam Maher either, who scored a stunning long-ranged only goal against PSV Eindhoven yesterday in PSV’s 5-1 demolition job of the Alkmaar club. Maher had earned his first cap against Belgium in Louis’ first match in charge upon his return as manager. For those optimistic about the youngster’s performance, that could only bode well for the fortunes of the Oranje in the near future.

psv-az adam maher goal 

PSV captain, Mark van Bommel is currently enjoying life in Eindhoven again but has since announced his retirement from international football. His teammate, Strootman has matured into a midfield linchpin, similar to the times when PSV dominated matches at ease with their great midfield triumvirate of van Bommel, Phillip Cocu and Johann Vogel. It’s a waste that he no longer expects to wear that glorious orange jersey again in official capacity ever, as Mark’s goal against AZ yesterday was his trademark –

psv-az mark van bommel goal 

This is the weakest Oranje midfield for a long time – not much depth and experience at the top level; much would be expected of Wesley Sneijder to play the pivotal role again, orchestrating attacks and making sure the midfield doesn’t get overwhelmed by the seasoned Turkish midfield marshalled by Hamit Altintop, Emre, Nuri Şahin, Arda Turan and Mehmet Topal.

Forwards

Bas Dost (Vfl Wolfsburg)

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (FC Schalke 04)

Dirk Kuijt (Fenerbahҫe)

Jeremain Lens (PSV Eindhoven)

Luciano Narsingh (PSV Eindhoven)

Robin van Per$ie (Man Ure)

Arjen Robben (Bayern München)

Ok, I’d make a temporary truce with van Per$ie when he turns out for my beloved Oranje. But only when he wears the KNVB lion on his chest and nothing more. Robin is in red-hot form at the moment, hitting three goals against Southampton yesterday in a thrilling 3-2 encounter for the neutrals. I’m not underlining how much the Elftal needed him, but rather, the positive effect it would have on the team as a whole. Star players often generate some fear on the opposition and it would be interesting to see how it rubs off on them now. Arjen Robben, Dirk Kuijt and Huntelaar all make for a familiar read but I’m more curious to see how the other youngsters in the team gel into the national setup. After all, they are the future of the Oranje.

Bas Dost did not feature in the Belgium defeat but this towering striker had garnered headlines as the Eredivisie top scorer last season with 32 goals in 34 matches. Prolific strikers are always aplenty in the Eredivisie – the fat Ronaldo, Romário, Ruud van Nistelrooy and Mateja Kežman of PSV immediately spring to mind with their amazing output of goals for the North Brabant club. My point is, whether Bas would make the cut and establish himself as a new Oranje goal machine like van Nistelrooy remains to be seen.

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Elsewhere, we also have Luciano Narsingh making the cut for the Dutch national team again together with clubmate Jeremain Lens.

There are no recalls for World Cup 2010 finalists Eljero Elia, Edson Braafheid, Khalid Boulahrouz and Ryan Babel who never looked like returning to the Oranje setup anytime soon.

I’m expecting a tough match for the Dutch who should be eager to reassert their position as one of the best in the world, having suffered a huge dent in their reputation recently. However, home support is important and I hope the team would see out a narrow victory over the Turks.       

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