COACH – Louis Van Gaal
BEST SHOWING – Runners Up 1974, 1978, 2010
QUALIFICATION – Winner of UEFA Qualifying Group D
TOURNAMENT ODDS – 33/1 (Ladbrokes/BetVictor)
June 13th – Spain (2000 BST, Salvador, BBC)
June 18th – Australia (1700 BST, Porto Alegre, ITV)
June 23rd – Chile (1700 BST, Sao Paulo, ITV)

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After the abject failure that was Euro 2012, the Dutch recovered admirably and were amongst the first European teams to secure their place in the World Cup finals scoring 34 goals in the process; the only blemish on their campaign being a 2-2 draw with Estonia.

Coach Van Gaal is leaving after the tournament to be replaced by Guus Hiddink and has played down the Dutch chances saying that Brazil, Argentina, Spain and Germany are more likely winners. But if the Dutch nail their tactical approach they have a chance.

Van Gaal’s favoured formation is a 3-4-3 but with the Dutch defensive weaknesses, he’ll adapt that and will have an extra holding midfielder in place.

Van Gaal has experimented a bit of late and six goalkeepers were called up during qualifying – Tim Krul, Michel Vorm, Jasper Cillesen and Jeroen Zoet made the prelim squad with long time regular Maarten Stekelenburg left out.

Defence is a weakness and the Dutch lack classy centre-backs – Ron Vlaar is the pick of a pretty average and inexperienced Dutch backline, Vlaar himself possessing only 22 international caps, while Gregory van der Wiel is another experienced name who has missed out.

The Dutch will miss Kevin Strootman and bar the experienced trio of Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong, van Gaal has gone for a youthful look to his midfield in his prelim squad with none of them possessing more than 10 caps.

The Dutch strength lies in their attacking, creative players – Arjen Robben may be predictable but he’s had a good season for Bayern Munich whilst Jeremain Lens and Robin van Persie can spearhead the attack or play just behind depending on Van Gaal’s tactical set up.

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05 WORLD CUP LENSAnother of the Dutch contingent who has found success away from his native land.

Lens had an encouraging first season in the Ukraine and has been one of the stars of the Dutch qualifying effort.

A versatile player who can play as a winger, a striker or “in the hole”, the former PSV Eindhoven man can be an ideal foil to the Dutch big guns with his pace and his knack of either creating goals or sticking them in the back of the net himself.


The Dutch are usually thought of as a good outside bet but the awful Euro 2012 campaign and a failure to beat fellow top sides in friendlies has cooled the jets with regards to people talking about Dutch victory.

The KNVB have set the aim of a place in the last four and I think that’s an ambitious one but one thing that could be said is that poor tournaments have preceded a good tournament…..the 1998 World Cup came after England thrashed them in Euro 96, their Euro 88 triumph etc, etc.

But then again the road to the final isn’t an easy one – should everything go to plan (which it never does) and should the Dutch even advance from the group – Brazil, France and Germany have to be overcome just to make the final.

It isn’t easy but if Van Gaal can hide the deficiencies, nail his tactical masterplan and produce a good tournament from his star players, they have a smidgeon of hope.

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I’m making a bold call here, the Dutch to bow out at the group stage.

world cup Brasil emblem 01

Dan Nistelrooy (D-Good)
Owls Alive
TWITTER: @OwlsAlive or @DGood83

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