Player Watch: The Midfield
Orlando Engelaar is an attacking midfielder who currently plays for FC Twente where he captains the side.
The 28-year old stands at 6-foot-5 (1.96m). He is a towering and commanding presence on midfield. He can play anywhere in the centre of midfield as well as on the left. Since making his international debut he has impressed with his aerial and passing abilities. Most likely to be the replacement for the departed Seedorf taking up the holding berth behind the 'Fantastic Four'.
Ibrahim Afellay is seen as one of the greatest young talents of Dutch football. He usually plays as a right-sided midfielder for PSV but can also play in the centre of the park due to his creative qualities.
The 22-year old has blistering pace with a sharp eye for goal. Another great passer of the ball, he looks certain to be a regular in the side in the near future, however Euro 2008 is a bit too soon for him and will be used off the bench.
Nigel de Jong- a 23-year old defensive midfielder who can also fill in at right back is one of three Hamburg players in the team.
De Jong made just shy of 100 appearances for Ajax before his move to Hamburg SV. Since his arrival in Germany he has made an impressive impact including a winner against Bayern Munich, condemning them to their first defeat of any kind at their new home ground.
Arjen Robben currently plays as a winger for Real Madrid. The former 23-year old Chelsea player has had problems with injuries but when fit is one of the best players in the world.
He processes great pace, ball control and a fair shot. When at the top of his game he is almost unbeatable.
After the 2006 World Cup Van Basten stated that Robben would be the best player in the world if it wasn't for him diving. Well it seems since his move to Real Madrid he has cut that part out of his game.
Wesley Sneijder is the engine to the midfield. The Real Madrid pocket rocket midfielder has everything, pace, ball control, a brilliant eye for a pass and he is our set piece specialist.
Rafael van der Vaart is pretty much the left-footed version of Sneijder. He possesses the same attributes as Sneijder and the two form a formidable pairing in the centre of the Dutch midfield. He is also an amazing set piece taker.
He has been unlucky with injuries so far with the national side. He was set to be the star of the side in the 2006 World Cup but niggling injury problems resurfaced, and Van Der Vaart was not risked by Dutch coach Marco van Basten for the opening World Cup encounter against Serbia and Montenegro. With victory in that opening game Van Basten continued to leave Van Der Vaart on the bench.
His development as a player was hampered a little when he stayed at Ajax for too long where he begun to stagnate. In his early years at Ajax he was dubbed the "next Cruyff" and since his move to Hamburg he has begun to fulfil that statement.
Robin Van Persie can play as a striker like he normally does for Arsenal or on either wing, as he primarily does for the Netherlands. He is also another free kick specialist (remember that cracker against Fulham when we won 2-1 at home).
Like Robben, Van Persie has had a terrible time with injuries and has not appeared for the Dutch side in preparation for Euro 2008. Despite this Marco Van Basten has chosen to keep Van Persie in the squad as he is set to be fit for the first game against Italy.
Demy de Zeeuw is an effective defensive midfielder who is a good tackler and passer of the ball. The 25-year old AZ Alkmaar midfield marshal will probably have to be content with a bit-part for Euro 2008.
What to watch out for: The 'fantastic four' of Robben, Van Der Vaart, Sneijder and Van Persie forming an attacking quartet that will look to switch places with each other throughout the game making marking next to impossible. Total Football in action.
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