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The Dutch Olympic team: A closer look

It is clear, at least from the early look, that the Netherlands will be considered the favorites to advance from the U.S. Olympic team’s group.

You know all about the Dutch senior team’s stars, but you may know only a few of the Dutch Under-23 team’s best. Here is what the Dutch lineup may look like when it takes the field in China this summer (as well as a look at some potential overage players for the Dutch):

Dutch Olympic Team Projected Lineup

————————————-Ryan Babel———————————–

—————–Ibrahim Afellay————–Jonathan DeGuzman———–

Royston Drenthe—————————————-Daniel de Ridder—

———————————Hedwiges Maduro——————————-

Erik Pieters————–Ryan Donk—–Ron Vlaar——–Gianni Zuiverloon

———————————–Boy Waterman——————————

Other players to watch:

  • Maceo Rigters
  • Roy Beerens
  • Ismael Aissati
  • Otman Bakkal
  • Collins John

Leading the way for the Dutch are Drenthe (Real Madrid), Maduro (Valencia) and Babel (Liverpool). All are key players for their club teams and will certainly be leaders on this squad.

A familiar name in this group to some is Canadian-born Jonathan DeGuzman, who has officially joined the Dutch youth team set-up. He got off to a flying start for the Under-21 qualifying campaign for the next UEFA Tournament, scoring two goals in his Dutch debut.

If the Dutch have a weakness, it is in the back-line. Solid but unspectacular in the back, the Dutch rely greatly on their front six being able to win the possession battle. The Dutch generally emply variations of the 4-3-3 formation that the Netherlands mastered in decades past. Whether with a target forward up top, or a pair of forwards with a withdrawn forward in the hole, the Dutch rely heavily on being able to jump into the transition attack with numbers.

With the back-line being a major issue for the Dutch, I think you could see as many as two defenders among the overage selections. Whether it is someone like PSV defender Jan Kromkamp, Sevilla defender Khalid Boulahrouz or a veteran winger like Giovanni van Bronkhorst, the Dutch will likely go defensive with an overage player or two.

The Dutch could also use a top forward, someone like Robin van Persie or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. I would expect a younger veteran like them to go over older options like Ruud van Nistelrooy, Dirk Kuyt or Roy Makaay.

The Netherlands has a strong group of midfielders in this age bracket, but you can’t help but wonder if the Dutch will try to coax Wesley Sneijder into playing. He is actually less than half a year over the age limit for the Olympics so this team really would be made up of many of his peers. If the Dutch could include Sneijder, Huntelaar and a center back like Boulahrouz or Hamburg defender Joris Mathijsen, a chance for Olympic gold would be a very real possibility. Of course, this will require the Dutch team being able to get any of these players released by their clubs, which is never a guarantee.

What do you think of the Dutch team? Share your thoughts below.


  1. Babel is a stud for Liverpool, and he is even better on the International stage. But I hope Rafa tries to protest him playing in both the Euros and the Olympics. That’s too many games. He will basically be playing year round.

  2. dude balotelli was so bad for inter today, they had to take him off after half an hour cuz he was so bad. he is typically good though so that should be interesting.

  3. Oh and to add to mine, I kinda hope they dont select an MLS player as one of the three. I can say if I was the Galaxy I would tell Donovan that he is not allowed to go, becuase the team realy needs him and with him gone there is no way they make the play-offs.

  4. THe Dutch are always a strong team, and I would love to see Roy Makaay selected to play.

    I will say though I think this is where the US finaly go all the way. If Altidore and Adu play their game we got it. I would like to see Gouch, Dempsey, and eiter Bocanegra or McBride. I think McBride would be good just so Altidore isnt getting double teamed all the time. But I realy think making the deffense as strong as possible is most important.

    GO USA!!!

  5. Well it is a tournament that is very quick where teams have very little time in between matches. As such, there really isn’t one set of starters that a team can play. Rotating players is a necessity in the Olympics (especially once you advance through the rounds).

  6. the dutch have a far better squad with players like drenthe, maduro, babel if he plays, vlaar, etc. nobodys really that good in the backline for holland except vlaar, and if he is marking altidore, freddy must beat the other defenders. if he cannot do that, they stand no chance at all.

  7. And the US will play their three Group B games from August 7-13. Amounting to a pretty rigourous schedule where the three games are played over 7 days. Compare that to the 2006 WC, where the three group stages where played over 11 days.

  8. I mistyped. It’s an 8 team tournament.

    Here is the knock-out schedule

    Quarter Final

    Aug 16, 2008 18:00 Match 25 Group C Winner VS Group D runner-up

    Aug 16, 2008 18:00 Match 26 Group D Winner VS Group C runner-up

    Aug 16, 2008 21:00 Match 27 Group A Winner VS Group B runner-up

    Aug 16, 2008 21:00 Match 28 Group B Winner VS Group A runner-up

    Semi Final

    Aug 19, 2008 18:00 Match 29 Winner of Match 26 VS Winner of Match 28

    Aug 19, 2008 21:00 Match 30 Winner of Match 25 VS Winner of Match 27

    Bronze-medal Final

    Aug 22, 2008 19:00 Match 31 Loser of Match 29 VS Loser of Match 30

    Gold medal Final

    Aug 23, 2008 12:00 Match 32 Winner of Match 29 VS Winner of Match 30

    The US, if they qualify for the knock-out round, will play the winner or runner-up of Group A. That group just happens to be the second strongest group with Argentina, Ivory Coast, Austalia, and Serbia. So if we finish 2nd in the group, we will likely get Argentina, the tournament’s favorites. The more I look at this, it is a terrible draw for the US.

  9. Alex, I’m pretty sure the top two of each group advances to bracket play. That is how it usually works. I think.

    I’d really like to see what this Dutch team will actually look like when they divvy up whose going to be in Euro ’08 and the Olympics.

    If Babel and Maduro aren’t included, De Guzman will be a force and have more influence at midfield.

    I don’t see how the US is a good matchup with this team. I’m not saying it doesn’t have a chance to win, but there’s a lot of quality on this Dutch team. Obviously, it’s heavily skewered toward the offensive side and the front six than in the back.

  10. Chase, are you sure about that? I mean, aside from the fact that it’d be 8 teams in the knockout tournament (not 16), that would mean a team has to play 6 games in 17 days. I guess that’s do-able, but still a bit ridiculous (think of how tired they look at the end of CONCACAF qualifying against Honduras, then add one more game four days later).

  11. looks like Argentina and Brazil lucked out with their two groups. 1 and 4 are going to be brawls to determine who advances…it is going to be an interesting Olympic tournament.

  12. I’m sorry if this question sounds a little dumb to more seasoned Olympic-watching vets, but this is the first time I will be really paying attention to soccer in the Olympics and I’m wondering if only one team will advance from each group?

  13. The EPL and Bundesliga start in early August, while Seria A and La Liga start in late August.

    For any players on a team that makes a run into the latter stages of the tournament, they could miss four or five games for their club team depending on the league and schedule (midweek games, etc).

    Because the games aren’t on FIFA dates, the teams aren’t required to release their players.

  14. The Olympics fall in the early stages of the season from August 6-24. I don’t believe that they are “official” FIFA dates, where teams are required by the organization to release them for the competition, thus as Ives was saying they will have to get permission for many of the big-name and overage players…

  15. I can’t wait for the Michael Bradley – Hedwiges Maduro battle for midfield supremacy. I also can’t wait for Adu, Alitdore, and co to go at a shakey backline! This game could have some real fireworks.

    Yeah, what is up with the “if teams release their players” deal?

  16. Ives,

    I have a hard time believing that Ryan Babel will be on this team. He is a regular for the senior team and will almost certainly be included in the Euro ’08 teams.

    I don’t see Benitez allowing him to be selected for two major summer tournaments, especially when his participation in the Olympics would leave him unavailable for nearly all of August if the Dutch make a run.

    This is different from the Argentina situation, where they have already said that Mascherano will be one of the overrage selections. They are not competing in a major tournament this summer so have a better case to make in selecting him.

    I’m also starting to think that Bradley might not be a stone cold selection for the US, especially if he is moving to a decent size club, who are not going to be happy with losing him immediately to an international tournament.

  17. This team has loads of talent. I cannot wait to see how the Dutch team looks at the world cup and Euro 2012. Its also interesting to see how the Dutch manage to get alot of “foreigners” and multicultural players on their teams. The Netherlands is a hotbed for immigrants (suriname, africa,northern africa) and their team reflects that. Unlike alot of countries, players in the Netherlands choose to play for their adopted countries, and not for their parents homelands, or their places of birth. This allows the Netherlands to greatly expand their pool of talent.

  18. Ives,

    Aren’t the Olympics during the European off season? Why would they have to worry about the senior players being released from their teams?

  19. My one concern is Drenthe. Very good player. He reminds me a lot of Ronaldinho. If our wings aren’t air tight we could get burned very bad…

  20. Without even realizing they were Dutch, a lot of these players are some of my favorite young talent to develop in the Fifa series (especially ’09 for 360):

    Players like Vlaar, Zuiverloon, DeGuzman, Roy Beerens, Babel, etc. If this team is as good as the squads in my Fifa, they really are the ones to beat.

    But to be fair, many Americans are also some Fifa faves: Altidore, Adu, Guzan, Bradley, etc.

    Ok, now reality: It’s a great matchup. On paper I definitely give to edge to the Netherlands, no question. But I think the US will match up well. It’s going to be a great group.


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