We continue our profile of Netherlands 23 man squad by taking a look at the defenders who Louis van Gaal has picked for the World Cup in Brazil.

  • By Michael Bell
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oranj ma deThe defence has been seen as a weak point in the Netherlands team, but in Van Gaal’s new 5-3-2 formation, which allows the use of three centre backs flanked by two wing backs, the Dutch looked solid in the recent friendly win over Ghana.

But who are the eight defenders chosen in the squad? profiles of each below:

janmaat aDaryl Janmaat

Age-24 Club- Feyenoord Caps-15

Netherlands first choice right back ever since Louis van Gaal took over from Bert van Maarwijk in 2012, Janmaat is key to the formation his coach wants to play.

It will be Janmaat’s job to bomb up and down the right hand side to support the two strikers up front, whilst also making sure the defence is compact to deal with attacks. The 24-year-old is used to the 5-3-2 formation having played with it at Feyenoord last season.

Interestingly, Janmaat supplied more crosses during the World Cup qualification than any other Dutchmen, and gained three assists in eight games.

Janmaat should be one of Netherlands key players during the tournament.

Strength– Has a great engine, and will go up and down the right all game. Also a good crosser of the ball

Weakness– May get caught up field at times if Netherlands are swiftly countered.

verhaegh aPaul Verhaegh

Age-30 Club-Augsburg Caps-2

Captain of Bundesliga side Augsburg, Verhaegh is in the squad due to an injury picked up by PSG right back Gregory van der Wiel, and will be used as back up to Janmaat.

Verhaegh has two caps for the national team so far, playing the second half of the 1-1 friendly with Ecuador earlier this month, and putting in a solid performance.

Strength- Experience: Verhaegh comes up against some of the best attackers in the world in the Bundesliga every week, and does his job solidly

Weakness-Pace: Verhaegh isn’t as fast as Janmaat, and could get caught out against quick players

blind 1Daley Blind

Age-24 Club-Ajax Caps-11

Named Dutch footballer of the year, after another excellent season in the Eredivisie with Ajax, Daley Blind will go into the World Cup brimming with confidence.

Can be used effectively as a midfielder, but Van Gaal rates Blind as the best left back Netherlands have, and this is where he is expected to play during the World Cup.

As shown against Ghana in the friendly on Saturday, Blind is a great tackler, but also effective going forward, and his link up play with Robben, Sneijder, and Van Persie was excellent.

One of the best players in Netherlands at the moment, a lot of eyes will be on Blind at the World Cup, as he looks set to leave Ajax this Summer.

Strength– Tackling


kongolo orTerence Kongolo

Age-20 Club-Feyenoord Caps-1

The surprise name in the Netherlands 23-man squad, as many expected Chelsea’s Patrick van Aanholt to be named as back up to Daley Blind on the left.

However Kongolo has had a brilliant season at Feyenoord, and offers versatility to Van Gaal, as he can play along along the back four of defence, and in the future could possibly play as a defensive midfielder.

Kongolo adapted well to the 5-3-2 formation at Feyenoord, with the tall defender showing great pace to get forward and link up the play whenever possible. His strength on the ball also makes it difficult for opponents to dispossess Kongolo.

His international debut was short lived, as after a disappointing and uneventful 45 minutes against Ecuador, Kongolo was replaced in the second half.

The youngster is one of the brightest young talents in Netherlands, and the World Cup will be a great experience for him.

Strength– Strong on the ball and in the tackle

Weakness– Inexperience, which can often prove costly at a major finals.

martins indi bBruno Martins Indi

Age-22 Club-Feyenoord Caps-15

Netherlands raised, but Portuguese born, Bruno Martins-Indi is capable of playing at left back, but its in the centre of defence that the Feyenoord star is at his best.

Big, strong, and fearless, Martins Indi is an excellent reader of the game, and has hardly put a foot wrong in any of his 15 caps for Netherlands.

A host of big clubs are lining up to sign Martins Indi after the World Cup, including his national team coach Louis van Gaal’s new club, Manchester United.

Strength- Positioning, and agility

Weakness- Needs to look for a pass more often rather than punt the ball down the field.

vlaar asRon Vlaar

Age-29 Club-Aston Villa Caps-23

Vlaar has been in and out of Netherlands national team since making his debut in 2005, but the big centre back is crucial in Louis van Gaals team. At 29-years-old, Vlaar will be needed to lead the trio of centre backs in the 5-3-2 formation.

In recent international matches, Vlaar has impressed with not only his tackling, but his aerial prowess in the box to keep out any dangerous crosses. This heading ability will also be useful in the opponents box, as Vlaar will be one of the tallest players in the Dutch starting eleven.

Vlaar had an unspectacular season with Aston Villa in the Premier League, as his side staved off relegation, but the defender is the best option for his role in the team, ahead of the likes of Joris Mathijsen, or John Heitinga, who were part of the 2010 side that reached the World Cup final.

Strength– Tackling

Weakness– Like Martins Indi, needs to be more secure in possession

de vrij asdStefan de Vrij

Age-22 Club-Feyenoord Caps-11

De Vrij was the leader at the back for Feyenoord this season as they clinched a spot in the Champions League, with the 22-year-old forming an impressive pairing with Martins Indi.

This pairing has been transferred to the national team, and both Feyenoord defenders are two of the first names on Louis van Gaal’s teamsheet. The duo have been together at club level, and also through the youth system of Netherlands, and there knowledge of each others game will be crucial at the back.

De Vrij is a tall and strong centre back, who like most Dutch centre backs, also loves to roam forward out of defence with the ball, and set up an attack. A good header of the ball, De Vrij will also form a dangerous pairing with Vlaar at the opposite end of the pitch.

Strength– Concentration

Weakness– Roaming out with the ball can sometimes leave De Vrij out of position.

veltman jeJoel Veltman

Age-22 Club-Ajax Caps-2

Its been an excellent season for Veltman, as he not only broke into the Ajax first team, but now he is heading to the World Cup, after beating off Karim Rekik for a spot on the plane.

Veltman is the perfect centre back for a nation like Netherlands, as he is agile and fast, but also loves to bring the ball out of defence. His play this season for Ajax reminded me a lot of players such as Jan Verthongen, who are strong at the back but also comfortable going forward.

Looking at Veltman’s stats for Ajax this season, he completed 89% of his passes, and stat website WhoScored named the 22-year-old as man of the match on seven occasions, while he is also part of their team of the year.

Veltman made his Dutch debut in the friendly with Colombia, and impressed after Netherlands were reduced to ten men, but still managed a 0-0 draw. His last outing against Ecuador saw Veltman make a slight error which led to the South American’s opening the scoring.

With Vlaar, De Vrij and Martins Indi likely to be first choice in the back three, Veltman will have to settle for a bit part role, but the future is definitely bright for the defender.

Strength– Tackling and passing distribution.

Weakness– Can lose concentration at times.

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