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Preview: Holland vs England

To be honest, this friendly is pointless. Holland have qualified. And, barring a major collapse, have England. But that doesn’t mean that Bert van Marwijk will want to win the game any less, preserving the Oranje’s ranking as third best in the world. Holland need to prove that they can beat the ‘big boys’, as well as diminishing sides such as Iceland. It has now been two months since Holland played, and the squad might take some time to get accustomed. For a while, they haven’t felt pressure or expectations, but it will flood back when they proceed onto the Amsterdam ArenA turf. For some, it could take longer than others. Vitesse’s gloveman Piet Velthuizen could make his international bow, while Rafael Van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar have dropped out of favour at Real Madrid, thus a tad short of matchplay.
Huntelaar may have fitness concerns
Huntelaar may have fitness concerns

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.  

Holland squad:

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.

Piet Velthuizen could make his international debut
Piet Velthuizen could make his international debut

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. 

Ashley Young could have a tough time tonight
Ashley Young could have a tough time tonight

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.

Comparative stats:   

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