Though Friday’s emphatic win over title-holders Spain silenced many of the doubts surrounding the Dutch squad, there are questions that still remain regarding the area of the midfield.

  • By Adrian Bucher
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The news of Kevin Strootman’s injury, suffered back in March, came as a huge blow to the Netherlands’ World Cup preparations. The Roma midfielder had become an integral part of Louis van Gaal’s squad, having captained the national side on several occasions – reflecting the immense faith placed on the shoulders of the 24 year-old. Many have seen van Gaal’s use of the 5-3-2 formation as a response to losing one of his midfield generals.

Though several analysts and journalists had written off the Oranje’s chances of progressing out of the group, the Dutch replied in spectacular  fashion, by dismantling Spain 5-1 in their opening match. With several players producing vintage performances, such as Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Ron Vlaar, there remain some doubts over the composition of the midfield.

The three-man-midfield in Salvador consisted of Wesley Sneijder, Nigel de Jong and Jonathan de Guzman. Whilst the former two players produced solid performances (with Sneijder providing an assist), de Guzman was less convincing than his teammates, whose most notable contribution was being awarded the first yellow card of the night.

While the Swansea player’s performance was not terrible, it certainly was not at the same level of the other players on that memorable night. The introduction of Georginio Wijnaldum in place of de Guzman gave more dynamism to the midfield, with the PSV man even forcing a save out of Casillas late on in the match.

So what are van Gaal’s options here? Who should accompany to de Jong and Sneijder to make up the Netherland’s midfield?

Including the pre-tournament friendlies, van Gaal has, in addition to de Guzman and Wijnaldum, used Jordy Clasie and Leroy Fer. The performances of the four men vary have varied, however it is undoubtedly Wijmaldum and Clasie that have impressed (Clasie was able to provide an assist during the Oranje’s victory over Ghana at the end of last month).

If van Gaal aims to go far in this tournament, it is imperative to get the midfield trio correct. de Guzman’s lacklustre performance was largely overshadowed by the performances of his teammates. However, as the tournament wears on, it would not be surprising to see some players tire, and in that case, van Gaal needs a midfield he can rely on. It seems clear, judging by the last match at least, that  Georginio Wijnaldum is the best option to go with.

Adrian Bucher (39 Posts)