Netherlands – Group B – World Cup profile

Netherlands World Cup Squad

Arguably the most distinguished footballing nation to never win the World Cup, Netherlands were runners-up for the third time four years ago.

A re-run of the 2010 World Cup final sees the Dutch side clash with defending champions Spain once more in their opening fixture, with Chile and Australia also opponents for the Oranje.

Confirmed squad

There is an emphasis on youth in the 30-man preliminary squad, with plenty of Eredivisie players (15 in total) in the initial contingent.

Established players such as Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder represent a top-drawer generation of Dutch players that are yet to hit the heights of the international game for their nation.

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 (Chelsea), 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)

Attackers: 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)

Notable absentees

Holland has been robbed of influential midfielder Kevin Strootman, who misses out through injury and will leave a sizeable hole in the heart of the side.

Johnny Heitinga was overlooked after a lack of chances to play at club level, while Gregory van der Wiel has had injury worries to contend with.

PSV pair Jetro Williams and Jurgen Locadia would have been in contention but for injury, while Marko van Ginkel has paid the price for serious injury in 2013-14.

Although a number of young stars have been included in the 30-man squad, there are a host more that have been left at home. The likes of Davy Claassen, Adam Maher and Luc Castaignos will play a role for the Oranje in the future.

Coach profile

The World Cup will be Louis van Gaal’s swansong with the Dutch national side, with the two-time Oranje boss set to take up the challenge of reinvigorating Manchester United’s fortunes.

The experienced trainer is well respected amongst the players and the consensus is positive that Van Gaal can lead the side to a positive competition.

A disciplinarian of sorts, the veteran’s stern approach could well be just what is needed. Holland have been guilty of internal fractions within their camp at past competitions, but the former Bayern Munich man will not endure any in-fighting.

Formation / tactics

Van Gaal will urge his midfield to press opponents, with Netherlands likely to be aggressive without the ball and direct with it.

Robin van Persie brings a ball down for the NetherlandsA bespoke 4-4-1-1 will see two battlers sit in front of the back four, with Wesley Sneijder given a free role behind Robin van Persie. The experiment of playing Klaas-Jan Huntelaar alongside the Man United man has failed in the past, but may well be called upon if Holland are chasing a game.

In wide areas Arjen Robben is an obvious threat, while Jeremain Lens has more often than not got the nod on the other flank.

Despite the individual and collective ability of Holland’s attackers, their back four does not instil much confidence on paper.

Aston Villa’s Ron Vlaar is the only defender to have more than 20 international caps, while young starlets such as Daryl Janmaat and Bruno Indi Martins look likely to play alongside him.

The squad is largely made up of veteran players that have generally had their day and are starting their decline and prodigious youngsters with little experience at this level.

Attack in the best type of defence and this should be the ploy that Van Gaal goes for to nullify the side’s shortcomings in their rearguard. Getting Robben and Sneijder on the ball will dictate the side’s chances of winning games.

Key player

Arjen RobbenArjen Robben – The Bayern Munich attacker has had another excellent club season, playing his part in the Bavarian club’s successes and showing a consistency in performances that had been lacking earlier in his career.

Although Sneijder and Van Persie are certainly match-winners, Robben is on form and in his prime.

The sprightly winger will be an out-ball for the Dutch and getting him into one-on-one situations with opposition full-backs will be the goal for Van Gaal’s charges.

Equally as able to score goals as to create them, Robben must be deemed as one of the most devastating wingers in the modern game.

One to watch

Jordie Clasie – Although some of the inexperienced Dutch back four have the chance to prove themselves on the biggest stage, whoever comes into the team to replace Strootman will have big shoes to fill.

Although there are other viable options, Feyenoord’s Jordie Clasie looks the most suitable candidate given the season he has just had.

The box-to-box midfielder is abrasive in the tackle, competent on the ball and has the work-rate to complement potential boiler room partner Nigel De Jong.

At 22, Clasie has all the attributes to be a real star both this summer and in the long term for Holland.

Prediction

Although Netherlands have a host of excellent attacking players, their defence’s ability to stand up to considerable tests will decide their fate. The side’s clash against Chile in the final group game could well be the decider in which side gets through to the round of 16.

Expect Netherlands to be a real force at the World Cup in 2018, but this summer’s tournament may well have come too soon for their new generation of young stars.

By
I am a freelance football journalist from Northern Ireland living in Broome in Western Australia. I have worked for top media outlets such as FourFourTwo, goal.com, Soccerlens, Football Fancast and Here is the City. I am a lifelong and long-suffering Tottenham fan. Follow me on Twitter at @90MinsOnline
Stay updated by email

Enter your email address to receive our articles by email: