Netherlands : World Cup 2014 FIFA Team Preview

June 13, 2014 215 0 0

Louis Van Gaal @TheRoyaleIndia

Coach:Louis Van Gaal

FIFA rank:15

Formation:4-3-3/4-4-2

World Cup History: Runners up (1974, 1978, 2010), Quarterfinals (1994)

After a cataclysmal EURO 2012, in which Bert Van Marwijk’s Holland team lost all three of their group games, the Dutch have bounced back in style. They qualified for the World Cup after winning nine and drawing one of their ten group games and will be desperate to put the nightmare of 2012 behind them.

The Netherlands positively cruised into the finals of Brazil 2014, coming through as Europe’s joint-top point scorers – alongside Germany – on 28.

They registered comfortable wins over their three main Group D rivals – Turkey, Hungary and Romania – in their opening four games to see them shoot clear of the competition, with only a spectacular collapse looking able to deny them an automatic spot. That never came and a, somewhat nervy, 2-0 win over Andorra saw them, alongside Italy, become the first Europeans to seal their place in Brazil.


History at the World Cup

Having played their first World Cup in 1934, the Dutch didn’t have it all their own way early in tournament. Two First Round exits in the 1934 and 1938 World Cups were followed by a barren run of 36 years, where they either didn’t qualify or enter into the World Cup.

With legendary coach Rinus Michels pulling the strings from the bench, Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Co won their way through to the Final in 1974, only to lose out to hosts Germany.

But, the good work didn’t last for long, as what followed was another barren spell of twenty years in which they failed to qualify twice in a row in 1982 and 1986 and followed it up with two more disappointing World Cup campaigns.

And it wasn’t until 1998 that they managed to reach the semi-final of the World Cup. Since then, the next three tournaments have been up and down again. From not qualifying in 2002 to finishing second for the third time against, Spain last time around, the Dutch have done nothing to take away their tag of always being the bridesmaid, but never the bride.

Squad

Louis Van Gaal has ushered out a chunk of the 2010 squad and has stumbled upon an encouraging blend of established squad members and blossoming youngsters. It means that world-class players like Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben still remain key figures, but they are supported by lesser-known burgeoning talents like Jonathan De Guzman, Bruno Martins-Indi and Jordy Clasie.

The defence might actually be the side’s least experienced area, but also the one likely to surprise a lot of curious onlookers. With four defenders, who formed a crucial part of Feyenoord’s brilliant League campaign in the squad, there is certainly a sense of togetherness in defence. While the midfield is well settled with the likes of Nigel de Jong, Jonathan de Guzman and Wesley Sneijder providing the experience to complement the likes of Jordy Clasie and Tonny Vilhena, the injury to Rafael Van Der Vaart might just give the younger players a big chance to impress in Brazil.

The famed Dutch attack features the usual suspects in Klaas jan Huntelaar, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben, while at the same time giving room for some highly-talked about young prospects like PSV’s Memphis Depay and Feyenoord’s Jean Paul Boetius. With Van Persie and Robben, set to be the main men, the emergence of Dynamo Kiev forward Jeremain Lens means a mouth-watering attacking trio is all set to take Brazil by storm.

Goalkeepers: Tim Krul (Newcastle), Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Jeroen Zoet (PSV), Michael Vorm (Swansea)

Defenders: Daley Blind (Ajax), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg), Karim Rekik (PSV), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa)

Midfielders: Leroy Fer (Norwich), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan)

Forwards: Klaas jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Jean Paul Boetius (Feyenoord), Quincy Promes (Twente), Robin van Persie (Man Utd), Memphis Depay (PSV), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)


Manager

After a disastrous Euro 2012 campaign, Louis Van Gaal took charge of the national side and proceeded to stamp his authority on the side.

Thanks to Van Gaal’s insistence of playing fast, free-flowing attacking football, the side scored 34 goals in the qualifying campaign for this year’s World Cup, which was only bettered by Germany’s 36. Tactically astute and always keen to innovate, Van Gaal has proved that he is certainly the right man for the job so far.

With the 62-year-old poised to take over at Manchester United at the end of the World Cup, he will be keen to finish with a flourish. And what better finish could there be, than a maiden World Cup title for one of football’s most famous footballing nations.

Player to watch out for: Arjen Robben

Arjen Robben @TheRoyaleIndia

For all his obvious talent, Robben was a player who’d developed a reputation as something of a ‘bottler’ not too long ago. He missed a penalty that could have won the Champions League for Bayern and he missed a one-on-one that could have won the World Cup for his country.

But recently, he’s made those questioning his mental strength look a little silly. The Bayern flyer scored in both legs of the Champions League semi-final against Barcelona in 2013 before bagging the winning goal in the final late-on against Borussia Dortmund later that year. In Brazil he will be itching to show he can perform on the biggest stage of them all and eradicate the heartache of 2010’s final defeat.

Best starting XI

Given the tactical fluidity of the Dutch squad, picking a best XI is almost as hard as trying to find a needle in a haystack. But, this set of players are likely to start, both because of their experience and because of their ability to execute a game plan and play into their strengths. Here are the expected starters for this edition.

Goalkeeper – Tim Krul

Defenders – Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi, Stefan de Vrij, Patrick van Aanholt

Midfielders – Nigel de Jong, Daley Blind, Wesley Sneijder

Forwards – Arjen Robben, Robin Van Persie, Jeremain Lens

Prediction

In a group that contains reigning World Cup winners Spain, dark horses Chile and an Australian side with nothing to lose, the Dutch don’t really have an easy way out of the group stage.

But, given their quality in attack, they along with Spain are likely to progress into the next round. If they win the group, they are likely to face the runner-up from Group A, which might be one of Croatia or Cameroon.

Should they win that, they are likely to face either England or Italy in the quarterfinal depending on who finishes first in that group. In the semi-final, either Argentina or Belgium look likely candidates.

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