Netherlands spoiled for attacking choice
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk is pondering whether Wesley Sneijder or Rafael van der Vaart should be the creative midfield motor for the Netherlands at the World Cup.
Or whether he can squeeze both of them into his starting lineup.
"It's not easy or difficult," Van Marwijk said after his team beat Ghana 4-1 Tuesday night in a warmup match at Feyenoord's De Kuip stadium. "I like to have this kind of choice, rather that than not knowing who to pick because we have less quality."
Sneijder, fresh from winning the Champions League with Inter Milan, and Real Madrid's Van der Vaart both scored second-half goals against Ghana.
But coming on after an hour for Ibrahim Afellay, Van der Vaart showed what he can contribute to the team.
His goal came as he ran onto a chipped pass by Mark van Bommel and calmly slid the ball under the advancing keeper Richard Kingson.
Fighting for position
Then — knowing he has to fight for a starting position at the World Cup — he just got better.
"You are never happy if you are not in the starting lineup," Van der Vaart said. "It always nice to come in to score a goal. I am happy."
He also set up the next two goals. First Van der Vaart nearly scored with an audacious lob from just inside Ghana's half. Then, when Kingson managed to just tip that effort over the bar, Van der Vaart fired a corner with pinpoint precision to Sneijder who volleyed home.
Van der Vaart capped his performance by earning a penalty that Robin van Persie converted for his third goal in two warmup matches.
The Arsenal striker has openly expressed his preference to play in South Africa alongside Arjen Robben, Sneijder and Van der Vaart.
Van Marwijk, however, does not yet appear convinced — possibly fearing that the so-called "big four" attack, while undoubtedly a nightmare for opposing defences, could leave his midfield exposed.
Kuyt could start
That is why Dirk Kuyt — who scored the Netherlands' first goal against Ghana — is still a possible starter. The tireless Liverpool winger is seen as contributing more to defensive duties than Van der Vaart.
Van Marwijk has already presented Sneijder with the No. 10 shirt, and observers expect him to be the main creator, playing just behind Van Persie.
Sneijder earned his starting spot with a standout season for Inter Milan that reached its crescendo with a perfectly weighted pass to set up Diego Milito's first goal in the 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Robben is also a certain starter after his devastating form powered Bayern to the final.
Van der Vaart has other experiences this season to draw on — his fight to win a place in the Madrid lineup sprinkled with stars like Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Of course I want to be in the World Cup starting lineup," Van der Vaart told Dutch daily De Telegraaf. "If the coach decides otherwise I'll just have to work harder. I don't give up easily."