The World cup is less than a month away; we take a look at the Dutch team and their prospects at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Netherlands are ranked 15th in the world currently. They have come second in the tournament thrice; the last time was in South Africa in 2010 when they lost 1-0 to Spain. In that World Cup, they made more people frown than smile with their dogged display and were criticized for their rough tactics in the final against Spain. They have the experienced Louis Van Gaal as their manager for this tournament and will be looking to do one better than last time.
The following is the 30 man preliminary squad which has been announced by Louis Van Gaal, the players will be further trimmed to a 23 man squad which would be going to the World Cup.
Goalkeepers: Michel Vorm, Jasper Cillessen, Tim Krul, Jeroen Zoet. Defenders : Ron Vlaar, Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi, Stefan De Vrij, Patrick Van Aanholt, Karim Rekik, Joel Veltman, Paul Verhaegh, Terence Kongolo. Midfielders: Rafael Van Der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben, Nigel De Jong, Daley Blind, Jonathan de Guzman, Jordy Clasie, Leroy Fer, Memphis Depay, Geroginio Wijnaldum, Jean-Paul Boetius, Quincy Promes, Tonny Vilhena. Forwards: Dirk Kuyt, Robin Van Persie, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jeremain Lens.
This is Louis Van Gaal’s second stint as manager of the Dutch squad. The first time he was manager in the years 2000 to 2002. He has managed Ajax, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and AZ Alkmaar, where he won the UEFA Champions League with Ajax in 1994, among a lot of other trophies. He even won back to back La Liga titles with Barcelona and even took unfancied AZ to the Eredivisie title in 2008. Managing the German giants of Bayern Munich was not much of a problem either; he led them to the Bundesliga and Pokal double in 2009. His time as the Dutch manager was a bit of a miss, the first time around. Under him they missed out on qualifying for the World Cup in 2002 and he resigned from his post soon after that. This time, he will be looking to make amends and will try to do better than what the Dutch team managed in 2010.
1: Robin Van Persie: The top scorer for the Netherlands and the captain for the Flying Dutchmen, Van Persie may have had an off season with the Red Devils but there is no denying that he is lethal in front of goal and can cause a lot of headaches to any defense in the world. He scored 11 goals in the 10 qualifying matches the Dutch played to reach the World Cup.
2: Arjen Robben: The Bayern Munich winger has found the fountain of youth in his time at the German club. People may have thought his best days have passed when he left Real Madrid but it’s the other way around. He still has a lot of pace to burn and is a tricky winger to deal with; he will be a handful at the World Cup.
3: Wesley Sneijder: A treble winner like Arjen Robben but with Inter Milan. Wesley now plays his football for Turkish giants Galatasaray. He plays in the midfield position and is known for his great passing ability.
The default formation that the Dutch team deploys is the 4-3-3, full of attacking intent. Van Gaal though has come out recently and has discussed the idea of deploying a 3-5-2 formation for this World Cup as they are missing one of their best players Kevin Strootman. Whatever happens the line will be led by Robin Van Persie; it all depends next on which formation they play.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The Netherlands have some great talent up front; Van Persie, Robben and Kuyt are great forwards. Their midfield is gifted as well, even without Kevin Strootman who misses out due to injury; the likes of Clasie, Sneijder and Van der Vaart can make any defense pay. The only problem the Dutch have is at the back. It is a lack of experience between their defenders, with their most capped defender Ran Vlaar has only 22
The Dutch are in Group B with Australia, Chile and the current World Champions Spain. The group is actually a tough one with Chile probably going to put up a good fight for the 2nd spot in the group. Spain should top it with the Dutch just sneaking past the Chileans. The runner up from Group B would play the winner of Group A and that would probably be Brazil, a repeat of the Quarter Finals from the 2010 World Cup. That is where the Dutch story would end this time around; the support from the home crowd would probably push Brazil and help them defeat the Dutch.