Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine - Friendlies
Ibi and Rafa show manager he has options
Holland beat Slovakia (2-0) tonight
by an early own goal from Saláta, who deflected
an Afellay cross into his own net, and a second Dutch
goal from Rafael van der Vaart 15 minutes from the end.
Afellay and Van der Vaart were also the players who
gave manager Bert van Marwijk much food for thought
for the coming days as they both might be thinking they
have a claim to a spot in the starting line up on 9
The first half showed a decent
Holland side that created a few good opportunities.
Although some players were struggling with their concentration
a bit in the opening minutes (resulting in Wilfred Bouma
and John Heitinga banging their heads together) Holland
took an early lead by a solo effort of the most active
player, Ibrahim Afellay. In the 8th minute he rounded
his opponent on the left and saw his low cross get deflected
into the goal at the near post.
Before the game there had been
a lot of discussion in the Dutch media about the lack
of width and depth in the game against Bulgaria (1-2).
Today Arjen Robben and - especially - Ibrahim Afellay
provided that, but with Robin van Persie too often away
from his center forward spot ever so many times there
wasn't anyone to receive in the box. The other central
player, Wesley Sneijder, behind Van Persie, was struggling
against a strong Slovak midfield and failed to impress.
When the Inter player went off
with an injury to his calve in the 51st minute it is
well possible that we have seen his last start for a
while. His replacement Rafael van der Vaart came on
well, scored a goal and put a free kick on the post
from just outside the box. He also livened up the game,
as he was much more active than the bleak Sneijder.
By the time Sneijder went Holland
could have been 2-0 or 3-0 up. Afellay had another good
chance which was saved by the goal keeper, but the biggest
chance of the first half was for Robin van Persie. Put
through with a bouncing ball by Sneijder the Arsenal
striker blasted his shot half a meter over the goal
from perhaps some 15 meters out.
So more injury trouble for Van
Marwijk. Bouma stayed in the dressing room at half time
and Sneijder's injury seemed unpleasant as well. Bouma
went to the hospital even during the second half for
a check up. If the PSV defender is out options are getting
few for Van Marwijk in central defense with Mathijsen
out for another ten days. Ron Vlaar replaced Bouma well,
but doesn't have the experience Mathijsen and Bouma
have. The Feyenoord captain does come with some extra
charms though in the shape of a fierce shot and good
However the injury of Sneijder
might give Van Marwijk the excuse he needed to leave
Sneijder - who had a poor season at Inter - out for
the game against Northern Ireland in the Amsterdam ArenA.
Sneijder doesn't swallow a role as a substitute easily,
but the way Van der Vaart came on could well see him
there on Saturday.
On left back Stijn Schaars played
an unremarkable game and it's hard to say whether he
has convinced Van Marwijk. The former AZ midfielder
was unable to make a mark up front like his colleague
on the right, Gregory van der Wiel did. However, Schaars
looked a bit more solid in defense than Van der Wiel,
and isn't that what a defender should think of first?
The center forward position still
seems undecided. Van Persie started, but struggled against
the strong Slovak defense. He was away from the center
on too many occasions when the Slovak center backs saw
themselves faced with no one to mark. Huntelaar weighs
on the center backs a lot more, but in the half hour
he got he was also not able to cause much danger. He
was however somewhat involved in Van der Vaart's goal
that was mostly Van der Vaart's own making with the
help of Ibrahim Afellay.
As for the Slovaks: they put a
header on the bar when both Bouma and Heitinga were
on the touch line receiving treatment for their painful
collision, and just before half time Bako went face
to face with Stekelenburg, but his diagonal shot went
||Van der Vaart
Lineup: Stekelenburg, Van der Wiel,
Heitinga, Bouma (46' Vlaar), Schaars, Van Bommel, De
Jong, Afellay (79' Kuyt), Sneijder (51' Van der Vaart),
Robben (83' Narsingh), Van Persie (68' Huntelaar).
Players not used: Vorm, Willems, Strootman, L. de Jong,
2012 campaign - Results, schedule, standings
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