There’s a hot Dutch debate taking place across the sea concerning Arsenal’s Robin van Persie and Schalke’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. It appears the nation’s football supporters are divided over who should start as striker for the upcoming Euro 2012 tournament in Poland and Ukraine.
In one corner we have the 28-year-old Golden-Boot winner van Persie, who scored 30 league goals for the Gunners this season and 37 overall, and in the other corner, 28-year-old Bundesliga marksman Huntelaar, who scored 29 league goals and 48 overall in 47 games.
The competition for spots on the Dutch team is quite fierce as there’s a lot of talent and obviously just 11 positions. The two players have said the competition for a place in the starting 11 isn’t hurting their friendship and it’s actually motivating them both to play better.
Manager Bert van Marwijk often uses one striker, but he may want to reconsider, since he has two of the world’s top marksmen at his disposal. It seems the whole nation is involved in the debate and the manager jokingly asked what Parliament had to say about it.
Some fans feel van Persie has the edge since he had a fantastic season in England. But his scoring record of 28 goals in 65 games for Holland isn’t as good as Huntelaar, who has 31 in 53 games and led all teams in Euro qualifying with 12.
Van Persie managed to score twice on the weekend in a 6-0 rout of Northern Ireland, with one of them being from the penalty spot. He also scored a week earlier in Holland’s loss to Bulgaria while Huntelaar banged one home a few days before in a 3-2 loss to Bayern Munich.
Van Marwijk came in for some criticism after the losses to Bayern and Bulgaria, but the Dutch managed to beat Slovakia 2-0 before hammering the Northern Irish. He said everybody’s entitled to their own opinion and there are so many of them out there. He added that his job is to prepare for Euro 2012 and we’ll see at the end of the event if he was right or wrong when it comes to player choices, formations and tactics.
A lot of Dutch fans felt van Persie wasn’t in shape two years ago at the World Cup in South Africa, and believe he fades in games when he misses scoring chances. Van Persie said he’s matured over the years and realizes that even the best players in the game such as Messi and Ronaldo miss chances too. He added that he knows he’s going to miss some of the time, but makes up for it by scoring on the majority of opportunities.
Being in the so-called Group of Death (Group B), with Germany, Denmark and Portugal, the Dutch are going to need to take advantage of their chances, as they could be limited. It’s a little hard to comprehend why van Persie or Huntelaar would start on the bench in such a tough group. I’ve always believed managers should play to their team’s strengths and let the opposition worry about you.
Germany didn’t play to their attacking strength at Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup and were knocked out both times by Spain, after giving them too much time, room and respect. Holland’s strength is in its attacking play and that’s why the best solution to the dilemma is to alter the formation to make sure both players start the games in a 4-4-2 formation.
Football seems to be the only sport in the world where the best players sit on the bench while less-skilled players consistently start matches just to satisfy a manager’s formation. Van Persie stated that he’s not sure what’s going to happen in the first game and doesn’t have a clue if he’ll be starting or sitting when Holland plays Denmark on June 9th in their Euro 2012 opener.
Huntelaar seems to be the better finisher, but van Persie is a better all-round player and can also create goals. They both know how to play with each other and bring a different dimension to the game. This is why some fans feel they should both be playing and perhaps somebody like winger Arjen Robben or midfielder Wesley Sneijder should start on the bench with van Persie playing out wide or in support of Huntelaar behind him.
Anyway, I’d play both of them. If I’m going to lose I’m going down fighting with my best players on the pitch. What do you think makes the most sense for Holland to do regarding this situation?