Kevin Strootman’s absence through injury has necessitated a shift in system for the Netherlands.

Louis van Gaal said his forwards Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben were in wholehearted approval of the move to a 5-3-2 from the staple Ajax 4-3-3 that was in use.

The full-backs Daryl Janmaat and Daley Blind will have the licence to attack, knowing that there are three centre-halves in Ron Vlaar, Stefan de Vrij and Bruno Martins-Indi (who, it seems, is set for a move from Feyenoord to Europe’s bigger clubs).

Nigel de Jong and Swansea’s Jonathan de Guzman – who appears to have inched ahead of Jordy Clasie and Leroy Fer – will be the defensive pair in a midfield three that also includes Wesley Sneijder.

All from right flank to left: 5-3-2 Cillessen (GK); Janmaat (RB), Vlaar (CB), de Vrij (CB), Martins-Indi (CB), Blind (LB); de Jong (RCM), de Guzman (LCM), Sneijder (CAM); van Persie (RS), Robben (LS).


Arjen Robben (30), Midfielder, 73 caps, Goals: 22 Arjen Robben, unlucky not to win the Ballon d’Or for the 2012-13 season, had a remarkable outing in the recently-concluded campaign for Bayern Munich, scoring 21 goals (11 assists) in 45 appearances.

The star, blessed with leopard-like speed and an equally impressive ball control, is always a threat down the right wing, harrying opposing wing-backs regularly. Robben, also a master at drifting in and shooting powerfully from distance, has an eye for the goal too, as his record for the national side shows.

The 30-year-old, a better team-man now, is equally adept at finding his team-mates in space and a pass completion rate of 83.9 per cent over 38 Bundesliga and Champions League matches this term makes him one of the finest distributors in the game. Rightly rated as the finest winger of the present generation, Robben will want to atone for the near miss in the 2010 final in South Africa and the opposition is surely already worried about facing his threat in Brazil.

Keep an eye on: Stefan de Vrij (22), centre-back, 11 caps

At just 22, Stefan de Vrij is the unlikely leader of the Dutch defence. However, it will be foolish to judge the Feyenoord defender by his age. Vrij has already played 135 games for his club side and was a key performer as Feyenoord finished an impressive second in the 2013-14 Eredivisie. Highly consistent, the player won 56 percent of his contested challenges in his 2841 minutes in the League last season, also coming on top in more than 50 percent of the aerial duels.

A commanding presence at the centre of the defence, Vrij has been impressive with the national side ever since his debut in August 2012. Gifted with great vision and an ability to hit accurate long passes, he often leads the Dutch charge out of defence, finding the likes of Robben or van Persie with early aerial balls.

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