EuroScout

Euroscout: Kevin Strootman

EuroScout

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Ahead of England's pre-Euro 2012 friendly against Netherlands at Wembley on Wednesday, we take a look at Oranje midfielder Kevin Strootman.

Player: Kevin Strootman
Date of birth: February 13, 1990 (age: 22)
Place of birth: Ridderkerk, Netherlands
Nationality: Dutch
Height: 1.86m (6ft 1in)
Position: Midfielder
Current club: PSV Eindhoven
Former clubs: Sparta Rotterdam, Utrecht

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The abiding image of Netherlands' World Cup campaign was the boot of Nigel de Jong plunging into the chest of Xabi Alonso as Bert van Marwijk's side disgusted disciples of Total Football with a horribly cynical performance en route to losing 1-0 to Spain in the final in Johannesburg.

The Oranje had surrendered their carefully constructed identity of artful football and, in the months following the finals in South Africa, coach Bert van Marwijk worked hard to address this perceived blow to the country's reputation, most visibly when dropping De Jong following his leg-breaking challenge on Newcastle's Hatem Ben Arfa in October 2010.

He could not have known it then, but a young midfielder by the name of Kevin Strootman, representing Sparta Rotterdam in the Dutch second tier, would be one of the most notable beneficiaries of this new approach. And just weeks after winning a transfer to the Eredivisie with Utrecht in January 2011, the deep-lying midfielder was welcomed into the international fold, where he has been a fixture since.

While Netherlands refused to countenance dropping AC Milan's Mark van Bommel - a player who more than any other embodied their bruising approach in South Africa (and, as it happens, is married to Van Marwijk's daughter), De Jong was notably restricted to just four appearances in Euro 2012 qualifying. Strootman, meanwhile, accumulated five, contributing two assists and scoring a superb goal in a 2-0 win over Finland in September.

His less abrasive approach to midfield matters has given Netherlands a more refined style, while at club level Strootman has also become ever more influential: a six-month spell at Utrecht was enough for PSV Eindhoven to recruit him last summer and make him the fulcrum of a side that tops the Eredivisie at present.

Though he anchors the PSV midfield, the 22-year-old is not just a very good ball-winner. His precise passing helps set the tempo for the Dutch club and Strootman also takes responsibility for set-pieces with his trusted left boot. A genuine box-to-box midfielder, he is much more of an all-rounder than De Jong, whose primary characteristics of tenacity and ruthlessness have been less in demand for the national side since events in South Africa.

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Analysis from PSV's 3-2 victory over Feyenoord in the Eredivisie on Sunday, February 26

2 - Strootman shows great desire to thump into a challenge and win the ball to pass to Georgino Wijnaldum.

7- Under pressure in a deep position he is rushed into a pass out to the left and sees it intercepted.

12 - Strootman tries to pick out Tim Matavz with a quick pass forward but puts too much on it and the ball runs out of play.

13 - Bursts into the box with real energy but is shepherded away and the danger passes.

30 - Takes a pass from the right flank and unleashes a firm effort with his left boot that is blocked on the edge of the box.

64 - Exploits a poor pass to run forward but his distribution out to the right is poor and he fails to find a team-mate.

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Kevin Strootman

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