Netherlands - Team Profile
The Dutch have a painful past in the World Cup, having lost three finals
Dutch head coach Louis van Gaal leads his team’s training session in Lagos, Portugal, last month. Photograph: Koen van Weel / EPA
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Best finish: Second (1974, 1978, 2010)
World Cup record: Played 50, Won 27, Drawn 12, Lost 11
The Netherlands have a painful past in the World Cup, having lost three finals. Two of these came back to back in 1974 and 1978, when the Dutch were honing Total Football and looking every bit like champions in waiting. In Germany, they lost 2-1 to the hosts in Munich, despite taking an early lead, and four years later the hosts, this time Argentina, won out in an ill-tempered affair in Buneos Aires. Thirty-two years later they found themselves back in final against Spain, but this time it was their opponents who made sweet music and snatched victory minutes away from penalties with an Andres Iniesta goal.
Given the fact Van Gaal will step down after this World Cup he might have been forgiven for sticking with experience but the manager has, instead, blooded a lot of new talent. So much so, that his starting line-up against Spain on June 13th remains a tough call, save for the frontmen in his 4-3-3 formation. Injury permitting, Robin van Persie will lead the attack, and will likely be flanked by Arjen Robben of Bayern Munich and Jeremain Lens of Dynamo Kiev.
All Star - Arjen Robben
He’s been knocking around a while now and practically every defender knows what he’s going to do, but stopping him is a different story, just ask Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra. There’s no doubt the there is a lot of potential in the squad but nobody in the Dutch side frightens defenders like Robben and, with three goals in six qualifiers, he still has that eye for goal. And, of course, he has no issues with throwing himself to the floor in apparent agony to win a penalty. Sure, they’re all at it these days.
County Colours - Galway
“Laid-back low-liers, except when it comes to football."
Pundit’s corner - Glenn Hoddle: “They can be trifick on their day, but they give me the wibbles … bad karma.”
Much has been made of recent friendly results, in which they have failed to beat Japan and Colombia, and lost to France, but they took 28 points from 30 in the qualifiers and scored 34 goals. Robin van Persie scored 11 of those and his lack of match practice (19 league games this season for Manchester United) will be a concern. So, too, will their group opponents. Spain are an obvious threat, but Chile are also a very dangerous prospect for van Gaal’s youthful side.
Goalkeepers: 1 Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), 22 Michel Vorm (Swansea City, Wal), 23 Tim Krul (Newcastle United, Eng).
Defenders: 2 Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa, Eng), 3 Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), 4 Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), 5 Daley Blind (Ajax), 7 Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), 12 Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg, Ger), 13 Joel Veltman (Ajax), 14 Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord).