World Cup 2014 Group B – Holland

Outright odds: 33/1

To win group: 3/1

To qualify: 8/11

 

Full squad: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Michel Vorm (Swansea City) Daley Blind (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord Rotterdam), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven), Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United)

 

Manager: Louis van Gaal

 

World Cup record: Runners-up three times (1974, 1978, 2010)

 

Holland have come within touching distance of the World Cup on several occasions but there doesn’t look to be as much hope for a big showing in Brazil this time around with questions over the quality of the squad and potential tactical dilemmas a plenty for outgoing manager Louis Van Gaal to deal with before a move to Manchester United.

 

 

Finishing as runners up for the third time in their history, the Dutch excellent in 2010 with a fast paced side excelling out wide with a gifted and talented set of players at the peak of their powers – but things are different this time around. Poor finishing and infighting contributed greatly to an early exit in the Euros in a group with semi finalists Portugal and Germany, and while the mood in the camp should be higher, there are worries over the state of the Dutch’s best attacking performers and also the overall quality of the rearguard.

 

Wesley Snedijer, Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben were crucial to their run to the final four years ago but circumstances were different in midfield especially with Sneijder having played a key part in taking Inter Milan to a treble in the season before while Robben had helped take Bayern to that season’s final.

 

 

Robben has become one of the world’s premier talents since, landing a treble with Bayern Munich last season and a double this time around, but Sneidjer has not been the player of old for Galatasaray and he has failed to replicate some of his previous form that he showed for Inter, for example, a serious worry given the strength of this group.

 

 

Van Persie’s season being dogged by injury is not a surprise, but the biggest blow of all may be the absence of Kevin Strootman, the outstanding Roma midfielder. The 24 year old had reached incredible levels for Roma this season and was creating a platform for the Dutch that was so impressive he’d been guaranteed a spot in the starting side even before a knee injury cut his chances here. While his absence is a blow in terms of talent, it also robs Van Gaal of a platform to play across the midfield with and the Dutch’s unease since, in switching towards a 5-3-2 that has not suited greatly based on the little evidence we’ve seen of it.

 

 

In midfield, Jonathan De Guzman gives choice to Van Gaal after a solid season for Swansea but this is a more exalted level and Nigel De Jong has not been in the same form for Milan that he once held for Manchester City – or at least the performance he had four years ago. It is the back 5 however, where there’s the most worry for Holland

 

A hugely inexperienced unit is led by Ron Vlaar, who has the most experience of the set with 22 caps but struggled badly while Aston Villa nearly went down. Daley Blind should be playing in midfield but could be marginalized, having been shifted behind to left back to accommodate a system that has not looked the perfect for Holland. Daryl Janmaat, Stefan and Stefan De Vriji had accomplished seasons for Feynoord in finishing league runs towards second, but they let in 12 more than winners Ajax and could struggle upped in class.

 

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