World Cup Team Profile - Netherlands
Coach: Louis van Gaal
Captain: Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
Full Netherlands Roster
The Road to Rio: As usual the Dutch were absolute destroyers in the qualifying round, posting an unbeaten 9-1-0 record through 10 games and posting a goal-differential of a staggering plus-29.
The Oranje outscored opponents by a 20-1 margin at home. The only blemish to their record was a surprising 2-2 draw at Estonia that was salvaged by a Robin van Persie penalty in the 94th minute.
Alongside Italy they became one of the first European clubs to qualify for the World Cup, doing so on Sept. 10, 2013 with two games to spare. That didn’t stop them from dropping eight goals on Hungary in their first match post-qualification.
Last World Cup appearance: South Africa 2010 (Runners-Up)
First World Cup appearance: Italy 1934 (Group Stage)
Previous World Cup appearances: 9
Best World Cup finish: Runners-Up (3 – West Germany 1974, Argentina 1978, South Africa 2010)
When it comes to international soccer, Netherlands knows heartbreak. They also know highly skilled and free flowing play, something they will hope to utilize for a deep run into the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil. At the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, Dutch dreams were dashed in the final thanks to a 116th minute goal by Spanish midfielder Andres Iniesta that broke a scoreless tie and denied Netherlands their long awaited first championship.
Things went even worse at their next international tournament, Euro 2012, where after being drawn into one of the toughest groups in the completion, they crashed out with an 0-3 record following defeats to Germany, Portugal and Denmark.
Head coach Louis van Gaal will leave the team after the tournament to take charge of Barclays Premier League side Manchester United. This is his second tour with the national team after failing to get them into the 2002 World Cup. He has impressive teams on his resume and an impressive team at his disposal.
Offensively, there is no shortage of high-end attacking talent in the Dutch squad. Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben will once again be one of the keys to their success or failure at this tournament. While being questioned in the past, there is no doubt that when on his game, Robben is one of the world’s most dangerous players with the ball at his feet. Manchester United striker and Netherlands captain Robin van Persie struggled through injury for his club team, but is fully fit and can have a huge impact in Brazil. He scored 26 league goals in his last full, injury free season and has the skill to single-handedly lead his team deep into the tournament.
The fate of this entire group, as well as which team could be slotted into second place and most likely a Round of 16 date with Brazil, could be decided in the Group opening match between Netherlands and Spain. The winner of the 2010 World Cup final rematch will carry a huge advantage into the rest of the round robin games as they attempt to claim first in the Group. Netherlands turned the last meeting with Spain into a physical, chippy affair in order to slow them down and might have to fall back on the same tactics again if they hope for an opening game win.
If they can secure that win, they’ll need to ride the momentum into matches with Australia and especially Chile, who will also have designs on one of the Group’s top two places.