mercoledì 8 febbraio 2012

Euro 2012 Boarding Pass battle - Holland's goalkeeping riches

Dutch football has a long tradition of excellent strikers, extremely technically gifted attacking midfielders and sublime wingers. Holland however, have always lacked top goalkeepers, with the notable exceptions of Edwin van der Sar and the 1988 European Championship shot-stopper Hans van Breukelen. At the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, the Oranje number 1 was Jan Jongbloed, better known for unusual style of keeping and his canary yellow jersey, than his ability between the sticks. The likes of Frans de Munck, Eddy Pieters Graafland, Piet Schrijvers and Jan van Beveren are also celebrated in Holland.
In recent years though a new generation of talented shot-stoppers have emerged. And with Euro 2012 on the horizon, there are at least seven goalkeepers who can make valid cases for inclusion on the Oranje plane for Poland and the Ukraine. National team coach Bert van Marwijk has an abundance of riches the like of which his predecessors could never have imagined. Inside Futbol take a look at the contenders for a boarding pass.

Maarten Stekelenburg – Roma
From inconsistent second-choice keeper behind Van der Sar to top international performer. In 2010, the ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan through a series of fantastic displays in South Africa at the World Cup. One year later Stekelenburg was voted, for the second time, Ajax’s Player of the Year – then he moved to Italy to join Roma. After an unimpressive start to life with the Giallorossi with a blunder in his debut against Slovan Liberec in Europa League qualifying, the Dutchman quickly established himself as one of coach Luis Enrique’s key men. With his performances improving week by week, only injury can keep Stekelenburg off the plane.
Euro 2012 boarding chances: 99%.

Michel Vorm – Swansea City
“The Cat”, as Vorm is labelled due to his feline reflexes, has made a sensational impact in the English Premier League with Swansea: Two penalties stopped, a whole host of clean sheets and a number of incredible saves (11 on his debut against Manchester City). The former Utrecht and Den Bosch keeper is quickly making name for himself and looks set to enjoy the benefits at international level too. Vorm made his Holland debut in 2008 and has clocked up nine caps so far. The 28-year-old was Stekelenburg’s reserve at the 2010 World Cup, but now he wants to succeed the Roma number 1.
Euro 2012 boarding chances: 99%.

Tim Krul – Newcastle United
“Too soon” – that was the verdict of most of Holland when Krul left ADO Den Haag in the summer of 2005 to join Newcastle, at the age of just 17. The Dutchman had to wait five years to make his Premier League debut – in the meantime he put in a display of note in a UEFA Cup clash against Palermo in 2006, his first official game for the Magpies and was loaned twice (to Falkirk and Carlisle United). Then Newcastle boss Alan Pardew handed the ambitious shot-stopper a chance in the starting eleven, and Krul did not disappoint. His stellar season with Newcastle has put him amongst the best keepers of his age in the world. Last summer, Krul played his first two games with Holland.
Euro 2012 boarding chances: 50%.

Piet Velthuizen – Vitesse
For years Velthuizen has been one of Holland’s best kept secrets. However, the right time to leave Vitesse for a more ambitious club never arrived until the summer of 2010. Unfortunately, the keeper chose the wrong side: Spanish outfit Hercules. The 25-year-old played just three games and often checked his bank account to find he had not received his salary. Last summer, the former Holland Under-21 goalkeeper came home, once again to Arnhem. He landed at a Vitesse that is hungrier for success than that he left, thanks to the money of new owner Merab Jordania. Velthuizen has immediately claimed his former role as one of the team’s key men, topping the table of Eredivisie goalkeeping performances. He has so far appeared just once for the Oranje, in a friendly against Japan in 2008, keeping a clean sheet.
Euro 2012 boarding chances: 40%.

Kenneth Vermeer – Ajax
Last summer saw Ajax sell Stekelenburg to Roma with few regrets, because the Eredivisie giants were certain they already had his replacement in Vermeer. However, the two-time European Under-21 Championship winner (2006 and 2007) still lacks the consistency required to dominate the biggest stages and often switches from breathtaking performances in the Champions League (his performance against Lyon was sublime) to childish blunders in the Dutch top flight (Vermeer conceded six against Utrecht). The 26-year-old has much talent, but has yet to prove he can stand the pressure that comes with being in the spotlight.
Euro 2012 boarding chances: 6%.

Jasper Cillessen – Ajax
Last summer, the 22-year-old was targeted by English Premier League side Swansea, due to a series of superb performances with NEC Nijmegen – Cillessen made his debut for the Gelderland side in August 2010 against Heereneveen and was immediately voted man of the match. However, the Dutch club placed a price which was “laughingly high”, according to one Swansea director, on his head and the Welsh club turned their attention to Vorm. The Holland Under-21 keeper left NEC anyway and signed a five-year deal with Ajax, where he is currently battling Vermeer for the number 1 jersey. His cold-blooded composure between the sticks could see him prevail in that contest eventually.
Euro 2012 boarding chances: 3%.

Jeroen Zoet – PSV Eindhoven (on loan at RKC Waalwijk)
A fledgling talent in Dutch football – this season Zoet has been handed the chance to prove himself after Eredivisie giants PSV, whose academy he joined at 15, loaned him to RKC Waalwijk. In the first half of the season, the 20-year-old’s saves were crucial in handing RKC an unexpected mid-table position, before a slump put the side close to the relegation zone. Great things are expected from Zoet in 2012. The shot-stopper is a veteran of Holland’s youth teams, having played in the 2009 European Under-17 Championship (wearing the captain’s armband), the 2010 European Under-19 Championship, while he currently holds the spot of Holland’s first choice Under-21 keeper.
Euro 2012 boarding chances: 3%

Fonte: Inside Futbol

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