2010 World Cup Player Profile: Mark van Bommel, Netherlands' Hard Man

Why You’ll Like Him

You will never see van Bommel back down from a challenge and he can let one go from distance.

If you’re looking for the World Cup’s tough guy, you’ve found him in van Bommel. Never has van Bommel shied away from anything on the field. He will not pass up the chance to get in on a tackle and if the two teams are pushing and shoving, van Bommel will be right in the middle of it. He is the ultimate tough guy and he can back it up with excellent range on the field and great tackling. If you want someone to lie deep and shield the back line, van Bommel is your guy as well.

Just because he has made his bones in the tackle doesn’t mean van Bommel can’t be make an impact going forward. He has a rocket of a shot and is not afraid to let one go from distance. His range of passing is also often overlooked and he can spring an attack from deep in his own end with one good pass.

Why You’ll Hate Him

The fire that makes him great can push van Bommel over the line.

Rarely will you find a referee with a soft spot in his heart for van Bommel. The midfielder has a short temper and has no problem letting the referee know when he thinks the referee has made a mistake. He is also known to go after opposing players as well, sometimes going in on a rash challenge. In the 2006 World Cup he picked up a pair of yellow cards.

Issues with his temper and emotions goes beyond the field and into the dressing room. For a stretch of time, van Bommel was not a member of the Netherlands set-up because of issues he had with former head coach Marco van Basten. With van Basten out of the picture, van Bommel returned to the team, but his temper issues have come with him and they could flare up in South Africa.

Fact Sheet

Age: 33

Position: Midfield

Club Teams: Bayern Munich (2006-present), Barcelona (2005-2006), PSV (1999-2005), Fortuna Sittard (1992-1999)

National Team Debut: October 7, 2000, vs. Cyprus

Caps: 54

World Cups: 2006

Club World

After a youth career with RKVV Maasbracht, van Bommel signed his first professional contract with Fortuna Sittard, staying in Holland. After making 153 appearances with Fortuna, van Bommel moved to his first big club, the famed Dutch club, PSV Eindhoven.

With PSV, van Bommel excelled both individually and with the team. In six seasons, van Bommel won three league titles and helped lead PSV to a Champions League semifinal, where they lost to AC Milan. Individually, van Bommel twice won Dutch Footballer of the Year for his ability to command the center of the park, a skill that earned him a move to FC Barcelona.

His time in La Liga was short-lived, but it was productive. In 24 matches for the club, van Bommel scored twice and was a member of the double winning side, capturing the Champions League and La Liga before transferring to Bayern Munich.

In his first season with Bayern, van Bommel was named the club’s Player of the year and in 2008 he became the first ever non-German to be named the club’s captain. A stalwart in the center of the field, van Bommel has been a part of a recent Bayern renaissance that has seen the club re-capture the league title and advance to the 2010 Champions League Final.

 

National Team

A series of confrontations and unfortunate circumstances have put gaps in van Bommel’s international career. The midfielder made his debut with the Dutch national team in 2000, but it wasn’t until the 2006 World Cup that he made his debut in an international tournament because the team failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup and he was injured for Euro 2004.

When van Bommel finally made it to a major tournament, he started all three matches of significance for the Oranje. Just because he finally made it to a major tournament doesn’t mean it was easy, though. He was excluded from the qualification run-in by head coach Marco van Basten and after the ’06 tournament, he said that he would not play internationally so long as van Basten was in charge. After Bert van Marwijk, van Bommel’s father in-law, took over the Netherlands following Euro 2008, van Bommel returned to the national team and scored twice while being featured during qualification for the 2010 World Cup.

What to Look For

The Netherlands is filled with attacking talent, from Sneijder to Robben to van Persie. They can play the style of soccer that is a shining example of "The Beautiful Game" and has drawn them fans worldwide. To be able to go forward with the verve that they do, it is necessary that there be a midfielder to get stuck in and shield the back line, a role van Bommel will fill.

It is van Bommel’s bite that makes things difficult on opposing teams and his fire keeps the team from being labeled soft, as they have in the past. It is also van Bommel’s drives from distance that make opposing teams pay for dropping so deep in their attempts to defend the rest of the attacking talent. When the opposing back line finds their heels on the end line, van Bommel will find space to let one go and earn him a spot on the post-World Cup video montage.

While the Dutch amaze you with their style in the final third, remember that it is van Bommel who lets it happen. His tackling allows the Dutch to run free. After you see van Bommel make the tackle that shields a nervy back line, he takes it up another notch by kicking-off the attack with a penetrating pass from deep. The attack will wow you, but van Bommel lets it start.

Ryan Rosenblatt's known for contributing to the attack at Set Piece Analysts, but for SB Nation Soccer, he will be providing content for this summer's World Cup.

For more World Cup coverage, visit the Dirty Tackle blog from our partners at Yahoo!

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