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England v Netherlands Combined XI (21st century)

For only the second time since Euro 96, England will meet the Netherlands in a competitive fixture.

Remarkably, despite both appearing at the World Cup in 1998, 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2022, and the Euros in 2000, 2004, 2012 and 2020, this will be the first time in nearly 30 years the two sides have met at a major tournament.

Over the years, despite their respective lack of success with just two major trophies between them - the 1966 World Cup and the 1988 European Championship - England and the Netherlands have boasted some of the game's greatest players.

Ahead of their meeting on Wednesday night, we've put together a 21st century combined XI.

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Lining up in a 4-1-2-1-2 formation...

GK - Edwin van der Sar

While England flitted from David Seaman, to David James, to Paul Robinson, to Joe Hart, to Jordan Pickford, with a handful of others getting opportunities in between, the Netherlands had Edwin van der Sar as a near-ever-present goalkeeper ever since his debut in 1995, going on to pick up 130 caps for the national side.

Though Van der Sar's shot-stopping wasn't as flashy as some of his contemporaries, his excellent positioning meant eye-catching saves were rarely called for.

After a middling spell with Juventus, Van der Sar spent four years at Fulham before filling in the gap many had unsuccessfully attempted to in following the departure of Peter Schmeichel, becoming Manchester United's number one, where he'd win four league titles in six years as well as the Champions League in 2008.

RB - Kyle Walker

Although he can occasionally be caught out by lapses in concentration, Kyle Walker's outrageous pace has made him a potent weapon going forward while ensuring he's consistently remained solid defensively.

While Walker's primary role is that of an attacking right-back, he's been able to play in a back three for his country when needed, and has been one of the first names on the team sheet for one of England's greatest generations.

CB - John Terry

One of the best centre-backs of his generation, John Terry gets the nod over some of his peers including fellow greats Rio Ferdinand and Jaap Stam.

An uncompromising defender, Terry was never afraid to - quite literally - put his head where it hurt and would go on to captain England, appearing at major tournaments in 2004, 2006, 2010 and 2012.

CB - Virgil van Dijk

So good was Virgil van Dijk upon signing for Liverpool he was immediately thrust into debates around the greatest defenders of the Premier League era. While the comparisons to the likes of Jaap Stam, Rio Ferdinand and John Terry may have been premature at the time, they're certainly not now.

With a remarkable reading of the game, Van Dijk combines his mental acuity with supreme pace as well as the ability to start moves with his long-range passing ability.

An imperious defender, Van Dijk was struck down by a serious knee injury that could've jeopardised his career, and while the recovery led to many believing Van Dijk was past his best, he returned to top form in the 2023/24 season.

LB - Ashley Cole

Cristiano Ronaldo cited Ashley Cole as his toughest opponent, which tells you all you need to know about the full-back. Cole wasn't just extreme pace, he had a fabulous reading of the game and impeccable timing in the tackle, making him a nightmare for even the trickiest wingers.

If you want an idea of how good Cole was at his prime, watch his performance vs Portugal at Euro 2004, and then imagine that playing at that level on a regular basis.

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DM - Paul Scholes

With the benefit of hindsight, how different things could have been had Paul Scholes been better utilised throughout his England career.

For all of his incredible talent, Scholes was never the quickest player, yet often found himself deployed on the wing, wasting his best attributes. Only later in his career was Scholes used in more of a holding midfield role, rivalling the likes of Xavi and Andrea Pirlo in terms of ability to control a game from deep.

CM - Steven Gerrard

Although Steven Gerrard may have lacked the tactical discipline to be at his most effective in a midfield two (his best season for Liverpool came playing behind Fernando Torres and in front of a base of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano), with a more disciplined holding midfielder behind him, Gerrard could have been freed to play his more natural cavalier role.

At his best, Gerrard was a rampaging all-rounder, flying into tackles, spraying passes all over the field and capable of scoring from anywhere, and when given enough freedom, was a lethal footballer.

CM - Clarence Seedorf

Who better to put next to a midfield all-rounder than another midfield all-rounder?

While Steven Gerrard was the more physical box-to-box player, Clarence Seedorf was the more technical.

A model professional, Seedorf made nearly 1,000 appearances in midfield over his career, playing in a deeper role as well as a more advanced role and capable of playing out wide when needed.

There was absolutely nothing Seedorf couldn't do. He could pass, tackle, carry the ball, shoot with either foot and could run all day.

AM - Wesley Sneijder

There was arguably no player more deserving of a Ballon d'Or in the Messi/Ronaldo era than Wesley Sneijder, and but for his loss to Spain in the World Cup final, he'd have surely won one. As it happened, his came a criminally low fourth, with Lionel Messi winning ahead of Barcelona team-mates - and World Cup winners - Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

After breaking through at Ajax, Sneijder was snapped up by Real Madrid, but after two mixed seasons at the Bernabeu, Inter moved to sign the Dutchman. In his first season in Milan, Sneijder was sensational, guiding Inter to the Treble of Serie A, Coppa Italia and Champions League in his first season, helping lead the Netherlands to the World Cup final that summer.

CF - Wayne Rooney

They say the brightest stars burn out the fastest, and while Wayne Rooney was still reaching double figures with Everton in his 30s, his peak came in his early 20s, when there was simply no touching him.

Bursting onto the scene with that goal against Arsenal, a little over 18 months later, Rooney was taking Euro 2004 by storm. Still a few months shy of his 19th birthday, Rooney scored four goals at the tournament and would go on to notch 100 Premier League goals before his 25th birthday.

Of course, Rooney was so much more than goals. Capable of dropping deep, Rooney could act as a playmaker as well as a poacher, with pace, strength, an eye for goal and a bloody-minded tenacity seen in very few.

CF - Harry Kane

While we're not seeing the best of Harry Kane at this summer's Euros, there's no taking away from how good Kane has been throughout his career.

Though never gifted with pace, Kane was a ridiculously consistent goalscorer in his Premier League days, spending nearly a decade scoring 20 goals a season, only failing to hit the benchmark three times in nine campaigns.

Quite simply a sublime finisher who could rival the likes of Robert Lewandowski, Kane made the move to Bayern Munich, scoring 36 goals in 32 games in his first season, and holds the record as England's greatest goalscorer.

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