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
—————–Ibrahim Afellay————–Jonathan DeGuzman———–
—Royston Drenthe—————————————-Daniel de Ridder—
Erik Pieters————–Ryan Donk—–Ron Vlaar——–Gianni Zuiverloon
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 Whether with a target forward up top, or a pair of forwards with a withdrawn forward in the hole, the Dutch rely heavily on being able to jump into the transition attack with numbers.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.