Key To Holland's Success: Orlando Engelaar
Watching the Holland against Italy match earlier this week in Bern, the biggest relevation for me was seeing how Orlando Engelaar mastered the midfield for the Netherlands. The tall, lanky Dutchman was a key part of Holland’s success.Playing in the center of the park, the 28-year-old FC Twente midfielder dictated possession. He masterminded many of Holland’s attacks by playing key throughballs to the Dutch wingers and attackers. And when Italy charged forward, Engelaar quickly stifled their attacks oftentimes heading the ball away by outjumping Luca Toni.Incredibly, Engelaar only has 7 caps for Holland. He played his first match for the Dutch just last June, and he is one of the tallest players in the Eredivisie. Not surprisingly, Engelaar is captain of his club side FC Twente.When I reviewed Engelaar’s statistics at the Castrol Performance Index site, I was surprised by how much ground the midfielder covered. As you can see in the image, Engelaar covered almost every blade of the pitch and even advanced into the far corners of the field.In the heat map, you can see that he concentrated his efforts in the middle of the park, but he also tended to play more on the left but left the right side of the pitch alone.According to the same stats site, he covered 11,143 metres in the game (second only to teammate Rafael Van der Vaardt). That’s the equivalent of almost seven miles!If you take a look at Engelaar’s heatmap from Friday’s match against France (also from the Castrol Performance Index site), you can see that he focused more of his time in the center of the pitch and rarely traversed into other areas. Whether this was part of Holland’s tactics or maybe France prevented Engelaar from moving out of his position is unclear, but the data is interesting indeed.It’ll be interesting to see how Engelaar develops during the rest of the tournament. If I was one of the Premier League scouts, I’d be contacting his club in the next few days to see if there’s a possibility of signing this player. He seems to have everything. He’s fantastic in the air, calm under pressure, has wonderful passing abilities and excellent ball skills.