When Jonathan de Guzmán signed for Villarreal in the fall of 2011, hopes were high the Canadian-born player would play an important role in our Champions League campaign. Didn't happen; he hardly played after Juan Carlos Garrido left and was loaned to Swansea City the next year. He has scored nine goals over the past two seasons there.
De Guzmán is a free-kick specialist, and an excellent passer. However, he is more a player who fits into an already well-running side than a player who can turn things around for you when they aren't going well. His career has had its peaks and valleys for this reason. At Villarreal, he never knew what his role in the team was, and with all the coaching changes and behind-the-scenes problems, he never imposed himself on the game. At Swansea, at least until Michael Laudrup left, his play was much more creative and effective.
Caps: 8, Goals: 0
Service for Netherlands:de Guzmán has only broken into the Dutch National Team in the past year, and would be a definite starter against Spain on Friday except for an injury scare, an injured hamstring in the preparation for their last friendly against Wales. Coach Louis van Gaal has been experimenting with three at the back and four midfielders, and in that formation, de Guz is an obvious choice to play an attacking role.
What makes him interesting: This Dutch side has a tremendous front three (van Persie, Robben, Sneijder) but linking those three with the other seven is a big problem for van Gaal. De Guzman is an excellent passer and a player who can move forward with the ball, shooting from distance or spraying it around to teammates. But he's not a strong tackler, so if the Dutch need more pressure in midfield, expect him to sit.
What to expect in Brazil: This Dutch team is not as good on paper as the 2010 World Cup edition. Several key players are four years older at a stage of their careers when four years older isn't terribly good, while the defense is young and without an obvious leader. If the younger players can jell together under the pressure of a World Cup, de Guzman will probably play an important role in running forward from midfield to create space for the front three. If things don't go well, he probably won't make much of an impact.