In this special series we bring you the local knowledge of the world's leading football tournament. With our worldwide team of experts, each one based in the country in question - from Brazil to North Korea - you'll hear first-hand the latest team news, exclusive interviews, and fan opinions of your World Cup opponents.
In this edition of Know Your Rivals, Goal.com's Wout Stravers takes a look at the chances of the Dutch side in the World Cup.
The Dutch squad has been doing well in their warm up friendlies, except in the second-half against Mexico (2-1) and the first-half against Ghana (4-1). But when they put themselves into motion, they look unstoppable. Robin van Persie has said he wants to be the frontman and coach Bert van Marwijk tried his luck with Van Persie as the striker. It was a great venture, because Van Persie scored three times in two games.
Van Persie scored two brilliant goals against Mexico (in the first-half) and added another in the game against Ghana, when he scored from the spot. These two occasions demonstrated that the strength of Holland is to play very offensively.
The weakness will be the defence, just like it always is. In the game against Ghana there was an error in the defence as Giovanni van Bronckhorst and Joris Mathijsen failed to deal with a ball into the penalty area. The communication was very bad and Asamoah Gyan took advantage of the confusion to score.
Only one position on the field looks to be discussable. When Holland is playing 4-2-3-1 the left winger hasn’t been chosen yet. Ibrahim Afellay hasn’t got the qualities to reach the touchline, but he’s very dangerous when he turns inside. He’s got a great shot. At the other end, Rafael van der Vaart can play also on the left wing, as can Eljero Elia and maybe Arjen Robben. Van Marwijk could play with different line-ups against different opponents, as he has got many options.
It’s positive to see that Wesley Sneijder and Van der Vaart can play together, but it’s negative to see Van der Vaart on the bench when Afellay plays. Because of the huge competition it is a possibility that Dirk Kuyt, who use to be playing as right winger before he was replaced by Arjen Robben, and Van der Vaart will be substitutes. That could be a catastrophe for the spirit of the team.
van der Vaart | Can he hold onto his place in the side?
Holland should do very well at the World Cup. They can reach the final with this squad and they’ve got the opportunity to win the trophy. But I think that Holland will go wrong in the quarter finals, because they can face Brazil at that stage.
Can Netherlands go all the way? Check out Castrol Football's 2010 FIFA World Cup Success Predictor.
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