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Posts Tagged ‘Euro 2008’

Dutch Preliminary Squad

This week we got the first glimpse of the squads who will be competing at the 2010 World Cup.  While everyone has their own country they wait for who doesn’t have another squad they wait for!  I know I do.  Most people have a glance over England’s squad when it’s released.  I suppose it was surprising that Jamie Carragher is back.  Perhaps Tom Huddlestone showing up in midfield was surprising.

I always spare a moment for Brazil because not only does their squad usually contain a few of the world’s brightest stars but they often showcase some of the world’s upcoming stars.  Surprisingly there aren’t any names that fall into the latter category for the Seleção this time around.

Moving right along to real business Bert van Marwijk has graced us with what he feels is the best 30 players available to him at this moment.  I’ll break them out by position and gripe and moan as I feel necessary:

Keeper:  Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Sander Boschker (FC Twente), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht);

Really this is the beginning of life without Edwin van der Sar.  Stekelenburg is the man entrusted with upholding order at the back.  It’s safe to say that Stekelenburg was chosen not because he is the best but because there are so few able contenders.

Defense:  Vurnon Anita (Ajax), Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart), Edson Braafheid (Celtic), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (HSV), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax) en André Ooijer (PSV);

Two players of note here really: Ron Vlaar and Vurnon Anita.  This represents a first call up to the senior team for Anita who is a young defender who has made his way through the Jong Oranje and finds himself alongside van Bronckhorst and Heitinga.  Vlaar is a defender who at one time represented the great hope for Dutch defenders after the passing of Stam and Frank de Boer.  He has struggled for consistency and at last appears to have regained sufficient trust to be provided with this opportunity.  Alternatively van Bronckhorst has indicated that following the World Cup his time with the Dutch team with come to an end.

Midfield:  Otman Bakkal (PSV), Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich), Wout Brama (FC Twente), Orlando Engelaar (PSV), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), David Mendes da Silva (AZ), Stijn Schaars (AZ), Wesley Sneijder (Inter), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax) en Ibrahim Afellay (PSV);

Certainly a strength for the Dutch there are few weaknesses here.  Creativity and gritty steel the midfield can support both the attack and the defense.  Such is the quality of and the confidence placed in van Bommel, de Jong, Sneijder and van der vaart that youngsters such as Schaars, Brama , da Silva and Bakkal can be accomodated. 

Attack:  Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Jeremain Lens (AZ), Eljero Elia (HSV), Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).

A more conventional selection in attack with one bizarre exception.  No van Nistelrooy and in his place a winger: Jeremain Lens.  I don’t really know what to say here.  In 2008 on our way to the Euro tournament Vennegoor of Hesselink was selected as a “crow-bar” to unlock defenses when in desperate need.  Surely a similar option or “Plan B” would have included Ruud van Nistelrooy wouldn’t it?  As such we are left with two typical centre-forwards and no fewer than four wingers and then Kuyt who is a defensive combination of an industrious winger and a sturdy forward.

As a point of interest of the 30 players named 15 made the trip to Austria and Switzerland 14 traveled to Germany for the last World Cup.  Three players were in the 2007 squad that were Under-21 champions.  You have to admire the van Marwijk’s attempt and melding youth and experience.  In all likelihood the youngsters will be those who do not make the final trip.  A part of me actually hopes some of the younger defenders will be given a chance.  I know van der Wiel is likely to go but at the expense of “The Cannibal” Boulahrouz I would pick Anita instead but that’s just me.

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New Dutch World Cup 2010 Home Shirt

Alright let’s talk a little fashion! 

I’ve looked all over and I haven’t had a lot of success finding the new home shirt for the World Cup.  There is plenty of information floating around for the away shirt but very little for the home shirt.

Low and behold my local store has it!  I managed to grab an image as well as a TERRIBLE video.  Yes the video is very very bad but it briefly summarizes the main features for Nike’s latest offering. 

The Dutch kits of late have been creative.  The shirt for Euro 2008 was beautiful with a lot of small details appreciated by everyone.  This time out the shirt has been scaled back in terms of flash.  We are back to a more traditional look with black being the secondary colour.  The first time I saw this shirt I thought immediately of the 1974 kit worn by the legendary Cruyff and Company.  Ironically that kit was made by Adidas and not Nike.  There are also some similarities to the Euro 2000 kit.

Features are sparse as I alluded too.  “NEDERLAND” appears at the nape of the neck while an oblong flag appears on the inside.  For the 2006 World Cup we had a well designed collar while in the 2008 Euro tournament we had a half white and half red/white/blue collar.  This time around we have a traditional crew neck with black trim.

The most interesting feature is on the inside of the shirt and will never be seen by anyone looking at you.  It was this feature that made me want to take the video.  Inside the shirt on the reverse of the KNVB badge there are the worlds “Oranje Leeuwen” which translates to Orange Lions.  I like the touch and Nike have included this on the away shirt as well.

I don’t think this is the most exciting football shirt I’ve seen.  I won’t be running out to pick this one up (although I may have told a little white lie to the store employee in order to convince them to let me make a video in their store).  It’s my understanding this shirt will be paired with all black shorts with white trim.  There are some online stores that are selling the new home shirt while it is beginning to creep into stores.  We can expect wider availability as we get closer South Africa where our Oranje Leeuwen will be looking svelte in their throwback shirts.

Pulling back the curtain

I should be completely honest.  I think its time I took off the overcoat and revealed the shirt beneath.

I’m Dutch.  The shirt underneath is a shimmering orange finished with Robben #11 on the back.  I’m not ashamed by my background or bias it’s just that…well its a little hard to control sometimes.  As we move towards the World Cup a fever will take over.  Let me count down some of the worst moments in memory:

1. Losing to Russia in Euro 2008:  Talk about going out with a whimper.  After dismantling Italy and France earlier they play around with their system and line up and lost all of their momentum.

2.  Losing to Portugal in WC 2006:  One of dirtiest and most ill-tempered games I’ve ever watched.  Sixteen Yellow cards.  Four red cards.  At least two missed straight red cards, a tying goal smashed against the post and out and out cheating by the Portuguese.  Quite simply and ugly match.  Check out this really good article about the “Battle of Nuremberg” and you also have watch ‘highlights’ below to truly appreciate the depravity in its completeness.

3.  Beaten on penalties by Italy, Euro 2000(particularly painful): In the quarter finals against Yugoslavia was one of the best performances I’ve seen by a single player in a top international match.  Patrick Kluivert was sensational.  His every touch was goal bound.  I remember running up the stairs to update my family on the score and returning just in time to see the 4th go in.  Throughout the game the mostly orange crowd sang “Campeones (Champions)”.  They seemed to be able to do no wrong as the 6th goal came from a wicked deflection off the post that fell directly at the feet of the impeccable Overmars. 

     Now cue the Italians in the semi-final.  The Dutch had their chances.  The Italians down to 10 men.  Two penalties missed.  Bergkamp crashing a shot against post.  And then penalties.  I hate penalties.  I truly and deeply hate penalties.  They were always going to lose.  And as the Dutch prince looked on, smiling through the pain, they duly obliged.

I’ve frightened children with my screams and bruised my knuckles on low ceilings ove r the course of my relationship with the Oranje.  I’ve paid $5 just to get into a bar to sit at a table by myself to watch my team alongside a score of … err … unfriendly supporters of the opposition. 

I’m putting all of this down for a reason.  I want you to know that at some point in the future I may make an impassioned statement born solely out of frustration or euphoria.  Please remember that I am a flawed individual.  I open myself up to hurt and pain in the hope that I will be rewarded with happiness and joy.  Together we’ll make it through.  Thankfully this only happens every 4 years.