World Cup 2014 Team-by-Team Guide: Holland to wilt in the heat
Past tournaments: 1934, 1938, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006, 2010, 2014
Previous Best: Runners-Up – Germany 1974, Argentina 1978, South Africa 2010
How they got here: Holland were one of the first European teams to qualify for the World Cup, taking top spot in a group containing Romania, Hungary and Turkey with two games to spare. They won nine and drew once in their 10 qualifying games, finishing a whopping nine points clear of second place in arguably their least-competitive qualification campaign ever.
Star man: Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
One of only two players who was guaranteed a place in the squad by manager Louis van Gaal, Van Persie was Holland’s main man in qualifying, with a tally of 11 goals that made him the top scorer from the entire UEFA section.
Despite this impressive tally, the 30-year-old has failed to find the net regularly at a World Cup with just a single goal scored in the 2006 and 2010 finals respectively and endured something of a nightmare at Euro 2012. With time creeping up on the striker, this could be his last chance to star.
Under the radar: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord)
Wesley Sneijder may have made the cut but with Van Gaal expressing concerns over the 29-year-old’s sharpness, the creative onus may instead fall on Feyenoord’s highly-rated youngster Jordy Clasie.
Already being compared with Xavi and Andrea Pirlo, the 22-year-old’s passing range and confidence on the ball means he could be a star in the making and one sure to be watched by scouts from many of Europe’s biggest clubs at the tournament.
The absence of Kevin Strootman has increased the chances of Clasie featuring regularly alongside Sneijder and he could be crucial to bringing out the best in Holland’s 2010 hero as well as RVP.
Team nutcase: Nigel De Jong (AC Milan)
Never one to shy away from a crunching tackle, De Jong made global headlines for all the wrong reasons in the 2010 final with a karate-style assault on Spain’s Xabi Alonso.
That tackle wasn’t an isolated incident either, as another horror tackle on Newcastle’s Hatem Ben Arfa, during De Jong’s spell at Manchester City, showed.
With Mark van Bommel retired, De Jong will take up the mantle of team hardman following a season in which he ranked up 12 yellow cards for the Rossoneri.
How far can they go?
The Dutch don’t tend to do things by halves when it comes to football, meaning they could either crash out in the groups or make it all the way to the semi-finals.
However, with the Oranje rarely tested during qualifying and beaten 2-0 by France in convincing fashion in a recent friendly, a repeat of their Euro 2012 horror show is not out of the question.
Defeat in their opening game against Spain could be disastrous and with Chile boasting a talented and well-organised team with less pressure on their shoulders and experience of playing in Brazil, an early exit looks a good shout.
Manchester United’s public pursuit of Van Gaal has hardly helped the team stay focused and with key players struggling for form, the Dutch could be in serious trouble.
To win the World Cup: 28/1
Best World Cup Bet: Holland to exit in the group stage 8/5
Watch the Netherlands have it all their own way as they put eight past Hungary in qualifying
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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