The Netherlands - World Cup 2014 Team Profile
Nicholas Spiller reports
Road to Brazil
After a fabulous run to the 2010 World Cup Final, the Netherlands played terribly during the Euro 2012 competition, losing all three of their games. However, in qualifying for the 2014 World Cup, the team performed very well. With 9 wins and just one draw in their group, the country easily qualified for their tournament and controlled a pretty tricky group that contained Romania, Hungary, and Turkey.
In addition to getting most of their points, the Dutch also won several matches by empowering score lines, including an 8-1 drubbing of Hungary and a 4-0 win over Romania. With such a comfortable qualifying campaign, the Netherlands team should arrive in Brazil with high confidence and a great sense of belief. However, without having been legitimately tested in years, will they be able to muster the fight necessary to win a close game?
Netherlands Kit 1
Netherlands Kit 2
Netherlands v Spain 13 June; Salvador
Netherlands v Australia 18 June; Porte Alegre
Netherlands v Chile 23 June; Sao Paulo
The early going will certainly be tricky at the 2014 World Cup, as the first match puts Holland right up against world superpower Spain.
While they would love to get revenge for the 2010 final, the Netherlands would also like to put themselves in a position to avoid Brazil in the first knock out match. Faced with such early tests, the team could either make a grand statement of intent early in the tournament or could go floundering out quite early.
A key match in the group stage will be their third match against South American side Chile. Likely to determine who goes forward and who is eliminated, the Dutch will have to beat a very capable team who will have the majority of support close to their home country.
Based on their recent 2010 run and the talent the team possesses, Holland expects to go far in Brazil. Their attacking potency is highlighted by Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben, and Wesley Sneijder, while guys like Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Dirk Kuyt will provide great options off the bench or in support.
However, their defensive capabilities aren't quite as strong. Retiring from the Netherlands include key tacklers Mark van Bommel and Giovanni van Bronckhorst, important members of the 2010 side. In their place is a relatively young back line, led by Aston Villa man Ron Vlaar. Nigel de Jong will be the main enforcer in the midfield.
While this squad has performed very well against lesser opposition, the world is curious to see how they perform against top-notch offensive opponents. Up top, the Netherlands are genuine contenders, but at the back questions will linger until they prove themselves. For a team that has yet to win a World Cup (and that has come agonizingly close on three occasions), the Netherlands are desperate to get over that hump and take home the title.
Key player: Arjen Robben
The winger has had a tremendous run at Bayern Munich and is very strong on his left foot, through which he has scored dozens of fantastic long-range goals. Tricky and quick footed, Robben is a menace to defenders. He missed a golden chance late in the 2010 final and that surely haunts him to this day. Nevertheless, his late winner in the 2013 Champions League final for Munich should have re-invigorated his confidence, while the club's recent back to back Bundesliga titles shows that he is capable of winning championships.
One to watch: Robin van Persie
The Dutch striker will captain the side and needs this tournament to cement his legacy. 30 years old and entering his third World Cup, van Persie would like to improve on his uninspiring record of just two goals at this event in his career. Despite having a down year at Manchester United and battling injuries, he can score tremendous goals and has clear world-class talent. With a solid midfield supporting him, van Persie could score many goals in Brazil, and will probably need to considering the team's defensive frailty.
Coach: Louis van Gaal
One of the premier coaches of the world, van Gaal has led both Barcelona and Bayern Munich. His greatest managerial achievement was leading the Dutch side Ajax to a Champions League title in 1995. With such an incredible resume, van Gaal will head up Manchester United of the English Premier League following the World Cup.
However, his current focus will be on taking this Holland team to glory. With a young group of defenders, he plans to utilize a 5-man defense against top sides, but will allow his team to play with more flair in a 4-4-2 formation depending on the opponent and the circumstances. While success at this tournament seems a tall order, Louis van Gaal is the right man for the Dutch team and could certainly lead them to the ultimate glory.
1934, 1938 First Round; 1990, 2006 Second Round; 1994 Quarterfinals; 1998 Fourth Place; 1974, 1978, 2010 Second Place.
2014 World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Michel Vorm (Swansea), Tim Krul (Newcastle)
Defenders: Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Daley Blind (Ajax), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi, (Feyenoord)
Midfielders: Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Leroy Fer (Norwich)
Strikers: Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev)