Holland Preview – Oranje Exuberance Key
World Cup 2014
World Cup finalists in 2010, the Dutch go to Brazil with a youthful looking squad under the guidance of Louis Van Gaal. I take a look at their prospects in this year’s tournament.
Holland’s form comes in two parts. There’s the World Cup qualifying form, which is impeccable, then there’s the rest which isn’t quite so impeccable.
In fact, of the seven friendlies Holland have played in the last year, the only teams they beat were China and Indonesia. Otherwise, they managed four draws, against Portugal, Japan, Colombia and Ecuador, and lost to France.
Some teams go on a tortuous journey of exhilarating highs and desperate lows on their way to the World Cup, but Holland had a bit of a stroll.
They won nine of their ten games, scoring 34 goals and conceding 5, clinching qualification with two matches to spare; a mighty impressive record, undermined slightly by the fact that their group included no team ranked in the top thirty.
The nearest they came to drama was in their seventh game in Tallinn, where they trailed Estonia 2-1 for half an hour, until Robin van Persie scored in injury time.
From the shambles of their Euro 2012 campaign, Louis Van Gaal has built an organised, efficient team based around the experienced world class attacking talents of Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie, and the midfield presence of Wesley Sneijder and Nigel de Jong.
There are also a number of promising young defenders coming through, such as Daryl Janmaat, Bruno Martins Indi and Daley Blind, but whilst this is exciting for Dutch football, the lack of big tournament experience amongst the defence could be a problem in high pressure games where composure is key.
Any team that wants to win this World Cup will probably have to beat Brazil at some stage, but on the whole, you’d prefer to face the hosts in the latter stages rather than the second round. To avoid that fate, Holland will have to win Group B, and that means taking at least a point from their opening game with Spain, in what will be a fascinating, Group-deciding re-run of the 2010 final.
Any team assembled by van Gaal will be well-prepared and he won’t permit any of the ill-discipline that has dogged previous Dutch teams. But to say the draw has been unkind to Holland would be an understatement. To get to the quarter-finals they will have to beat either Spain or Brazil or possibly both.
If Robben and van Persie stay fit, they will be a potent threat in all their group games, but at the other end, the inexperienced Dutch defence could struggle against the high energy passing and pressing game that both Spain and Chile employ.
At their best they can get out of the group, but I can’t see them winning it, which means their journey will come to an end against Brazil. Back ‘Second Round’ in the Holland Stage Of Elimination Market at 15/8.