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Oranje Squad Trimmed and Tested

Hello there.  Initially van Marwijk named his preliminary squad of 30 players and on the whole there were few surprises.  No van Nistelrooy was the only significant talking point while the inclusion of 2 uncapped players was strange.

Since we last spoke about the squad there have been some cuts as well as a friendly against Mexico.  The squad was trimmed to 27 following the departures of Otman Bakkal, Wout Brama, and David Mendes da Silva.  It would seem van Marwijk has made up his mind as far as his midfield is concerned.  Perhaps on the only player still fighting for a place is Stijn Schaars being amond the least experience.

May 27 is the day of reckoning for the rest of the squad.  This evening the Netherlands took on Mexico in a warm up game with van Marwijk looking to run the rule over the other players on the bubble.  Ryan Babel was not available due to an injury.  He may be available for the next two friendlies.  Vlaar too is attempting to recover from injury but faces the same seemingly impossible task as Babel: having to impress on the training ground and having no chance to show your ability via a true match scenario.

Vernon Anita, Edson Braafheid, Khalid Boulahrouz, Jeremain Lens, the aforementioned Schaars and Demy De Zeeuw were all looking to impress.  Interestingly Anita came on at half time while Lens did not feature at all.  Engelaar came on for Schaars which leads me to believe van Marwijk was looking to judge the balance of the squad with either player.  The same can be said for Braafheid and Anita on the left of defense; it seems they are battling to be van Bronkhorst’s understudy. 

Come tomorrow I expect Lens, Schaars, Anita, Vlaar and Babel to be left on the cutting room floor with their dreams in tatters.  I truly don’t understand why managers select players like Lens and Anita with no international experience what so ever.  I would hope the proper expectations are initially set.  Boulahrouz looked to be at fault for the Mexican goal however; Anita was tracking his man and Boulahrouz was the only player close enough to mark Hernandez.  You never though, it could be a lucky blunder that lets Anita slip in through the back door.

The two passes leading up to the Dutch goals were outstanding.  Van der Vaart and Afellay will be giving some selection headaches for the manager ahead of South Africa.  Afellay’s in particular was completely delicious; instinctively dissecting the Mexican defense allowing van Persie to coolly volley (a real volley) home. 

With friendlies like this you can really only judge the team by the first half.  You should expect any substitutes to give there all but it’s often beyond them and the myriad of substitutions that often follow half time inevitably hinder the match as a whole and they often end as a true contest.

Click here for a link to the highlights from tonight.

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