How the Netherlands Will Line Up Against Ghana
After a 1-1 draw against Ecuador last week, the Netherlands will face Ghana in a friendly on Saturday.
The match, some two weeks before the World Cup in Brazil starts, will give manager Louis van Gaal another chance to test out his new-found 5-3-2 formation.
Like they did against Ecuador, the Netherlands will likely lineup with three centre-backs, wing-backs, two central midfielders, two forwards and a true No. 10.
Here, we take a look at the probable makeup of the team.
Louis van Gaal always goes for Ajax goalkeepers, and the match against Ghana will not be an exception. As has been the case since his breakthrough in the Netherlands, Jasper Cillessen will be first choice in goal.
Michel Vorm—who has recently been linked to Liverpool, as reported b Neil Jones in the Liverpool Echo—will have to take place on the substitutes' bench.
Daryl Janmaat’s rise to prominence has played a major role in Netherlands’ recent switch to a 5-3-2 formation. Therefore, it's safe to assume Janmaat will be there in the match against Ghana.
With Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben playing centrally in attack, it will be Janmaat's job to provide width and extra attacking presence up front. He'll also have to serve as first defensive line against the opposition's wide players.
Bruno Martins Indi
While sometimes deployed as a left-back at his club Feyenoord, Bruno Martins Indi plays most of his matches for the Netherlands in the centre of defence. Against Ghana, this will be no different.
Under Van Gaal, Martins Indi has served as one of Oranje's key players in defence. Martins Indi is vital to the the manager's plans.
Stefan de Vrij
During the Netherlands' latest friendly, against Luxembourg, Stefan de Vrij partnered Bruno Martins Indi in Oranje's centre of defence. Against Ghana, the two will most likely pair up once again.
The understanding De Vrij and Martins Indi have developed at their club Feyenoord in recent years will make it difficult for Van Gaal to keep the duo apart.
After giving Ajax defender Joel Veltman a chance against Ecuador, Van Gaal will most likely go for 29-year-old Aston Villa defender Ron Vlaar for the match against Ghana.
During the World Cup, Vlaar's experience will no doubt come in handy, especially considering the age of defenders like De Vrij and Martins Indi, who must still be regarded as youngsters.
Patrick van Aanholt
After seeing youngster Terence Kongolo's make his first appearance for Oranje in the match against Ecuador, it seems likely that Van Gaal will give Chelsea full-back Patrick van Aanholt a chance against Ghana.
Van Aanholt, who has been loaned out to Dutch side Vitesse for two seasons, will probably relish the chance to impress both Van Gaal and Mourinho—who might be looking for a new left-back after the departure of Ashley Cole when his contract runs out this summer.
Nigel de Jong
Nigel de Jong has joined the squad after finishing up his prolonged season with AC Milan, and that means that youngster Jordy Clasie will have to move to the bench, for now.
During the World Cup in Brazil, De Jong will undoubtedly be part of Van Gaal's first XI. Against Ghana, he'll partner the more mobile and forward-thinking Daley Blind.
Daley Blind started his career at Ajax as a left-back, but under the leadership of Ajax manager Frank de Boer, he has developed into a promising defensive midfielder.
Closer to a Sergio Busquets than a Claude Makelele, Blind is capable of contributing to the buildup while remaining solid in defence.
Blind will form a midfield duo with Nigel de Jong, who is the most defensive-minded out of the two.
One of the great advantages of Van Gaal's new-found 5-3-2 formation is the fact that—under normal circumstances—it accommodates a true No. 10 as playmaker.
Wesley Sneijder, then, will be more than happy with Van Gaal's recent tactical decision. The attacking midfielder will finally get a chance to once again become a regular in Oranje's first XI.
Georginio Wijnaldum, who played in Sneijder's position against Ecuador, will serve as Sneijder's stand-in now that Rafael van der Vaart has dropped out of the squad because of an injury.
Now that Arjen Robben has joined the squad after winning the German Cup with Bayern Munich, he'll surely be put to work immediately.
Against Ghana, Robben will partner Robin van Persie up front. Wesley Sneijder, who will be backed up defensive midfielders Nigel de Jong and Daley Blind, will have the freedom to operate right behind the duo.
Robin van Persie
There's Schalke 04 striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and there's up-and-coming youngster Memphis Depay—who was in the starting XI in Oranje's friendly against Ecuador.
These strikers might get their share of playing time in Brazil, but in Van Gaal's mind, the only undisputed striker is Robin van Persie, the team's captain.
Against Ghana, Van Persie will be the Netherlands' main striker, with Robben making runs around him and Sneijder in support.