1. Who is this guy?
Mark van Bommel is Mr. Popularity. In the four days since he last played, the punditry has done nothing but highlight his since of fair play and his perpetual regard for his fellow player. His dialog with referees is being considered by FIFA as model player behavior, and regardless of what happens on Sunday, people will remember Mark van Bommel for the example he’s set throughout the last month.
And none of that is true. Mark van Bommel has been the opposite of whomever I was describing, fans left wondering how the Dutch midfielder can have only been carded once in the Netherlands’ six matches. Far form Mr. Popularity, van Bommel has been the tournament’s bad boy.
2. How has he done in this tournament?
Despite being labeled as a bit dirty, van Bommel has been effective. His physical play has disrupted the Dutch opponents, getting under the skin of a few along the way. If you subscribe to the maxim that it’s only illegal if the referee says so, van Bommel is one of the most effective central midfielders in the tournament.
3. What’s his role going to be on Sunday?
He will be reforming his central midfield partnership with Nigel de Jong, the younger of the pair returning from a one game suspension. With de Jong back, van Bommel may have license to continue his physical play, perhaps motivated by a match-up against a number of players from his former club (Barcelona).
4. Which opponent will be his closest on-field match-up?
Xavi Hernandez, a former teammate, will be tasked with maintaining his composure against van Bommel, a difficult job considering when van Bommel isn’t testing the referee’s leniency, he’s still a very good central midfielder.