The World Cup starts in less than a month. The time has therefore come to introduce you to the teams that will compete for the supreme trophy in Doha. The trip of our Dutch neighbors.
And if it was the world’s big surprise? The Dutch have been blowing hot and cold at the World Cup for several years now. Semi-finalists in 2014, beaten on penalties by Lionel Messi’s Argentina, Louis Van Gaal’s men (yes, even then) looked set to become a formidable team again. But 4 years later, under Advocaat, they failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, finishing third in a group that also included France and Sweden.
After Ronald Koeman’s passage at the helm of Oranje, and a League of Nations final lost to Portugal, Louis Van Gaal returned to business with very good results. First of all, a qualification for this World Cup in Qatar, but also a qualification for the Final Four at the expense of Belgium.
The star is the team (and the coach)
In the past, the Dutch team has often had the biggest international stars in the line-up. Arjen Robben, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars, Ruud Van Nistlerooy, Edgar Davids and so on. This year it will be Virgil Van Dijk, Frenkie De Jong or Memphis Depay’s turn to spearhead the team, but the individualities are less decisive than before, no disrespect to them.
Suddenly Van Gaal was playing a collective, team game where everyone knows what to do. The danger can come from anywhere, but above all, the young shots in the team are numerous and of course promising. So the depth of the Dutch bench is a significant asset. A change does not weaken the team.
A fake seed?
All the teams in Pot 2 wanted to inherit Qatar and it was our neighbors who were served. They avoid a big nation while usually securing at least a win against Qatar. However, the Batavians will have to watch out for their worst enemy: overconfidence. Ecuador and Senegal will not be birds for the cat and they will have to work to try and finish top of the group. A second place would potentially give them England in the round of 16, a first place and it would either be Iran or Wales or the USA.
As we know, since 1988 and the crowning at the Euro de la bande in Van Basten, Holland has been chasing a major title in a major competition. With three lost World Cup finals, they are a bit of the competition’s black cats. Is this the year everything can change for our neighbors? Why not…