England, however, will provide a stern test for Holland, despite the hosts being favourites at 6/5. Their reputation as a robust side mustn’t be taken lightly, despite the quality of Wayne Rooney and Steven Gerrard. Ranked 7th in the world, England are one of the most formidable sides in modern football. The impressive defeat of Croatia cleared the disappointment of the failure of 2008, and with Fabio Capello at the helm, England are on an upward curve.
Goalkeepers: Stekelenburg (Ajax), Velthuizen (Vitesse), Vorm (FC Utrecht)
Defenders: Marcellis, Ooijer (both PSV), Braafheid (Bayern Munich), Van der Wiel (Ajax), Heitinga (Atletico Madrid), Mathijsen (Hamburg), Van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord)
Midfielders: De Zeeuw (Ajax), Afellay, Engelaar (both PSV), Sneijder, Van der Vaart (both Real Madrid), Schaars, Mendes da Silva (both AZ Alkmaar), Van Bommel* (Bayern Munich), De Jong (Manchester City)
Attackers: Robben, Huntelaar (both Real Madrid), Babel, Kuyt (Liverpool), Elia* (Hamburg), Van Persie (Arsenal)
*since the announcement of this squad, Van Bommel and Elia have suffered injuries, with both unlikely to feature.
There are always great battles on the pitch. And on paper, these battles look even more exciting.
Heitinga v Rooney
Since he left Real Madrid, Heitinga has rarely featured in the media, but mustn’t be underestimated. Tall and strong, Rooney could have a tough time, although Heitinga is sometimes lethargic. With Rooney such an intelligent player, there may be occasions where he has a clear chance – he must take them, or England collectively will be punished.
Van der Vaart v Young
In the absence of Steven Gerrard, Ashley Young will want to impress. But only moments of magic tonight will get past Van der Vaart, Holland’s midfield maestro. The Dutchman’s tight reign of the midfield will limit opportunities for Young, and with the Aston Villa winger largely ineffective so far during his International career, England may have to take a more narrow route to score.
Van Persie v Terry
A tough one. With many battles between them in the past, they should cancel each other out. But one magical moment or one crucial tackle could decide it, and don’t be surprised if these are involved. Terry’s sheer immensity or Van Persie’s powerful shooting? Only the game will tell.
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