News Live Scores

World Cup 2010: Netherlands Profile

NETHERLANDS

Koninkrijk der Nederlanden
Coach: Bert van Marwijk.
Confederation: UEFA
FIFA Ranking (Dec 09): 3
Previous Appearances: 8 1934, 1938, 1974, 1978, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2006


Background
With the famous 'totaalvoetbal', the Netherlands impressed the world in the seventies during two World Cups. The 1974 side was probably the strongest team ever not to win the World Cup together with Hungary in 1954. No single side managed to fulfil the eternal Dutch dream of becoming World Champions, although the 1998 squad came close with a place in the semi-final.

How They Qualified
Was it a bumpy road to South Africa? On the contrary. Bert van Marwijk's team probably had the easiest qualifying session of every country, with the exception of hosts South Africa. The Dutch team comfortably won Group 9 in the European zone beating Norway, Scotland, Macedonia and Iceland. With a World Cup ticket in the bag after the sixth matchday, the Netherlands managed to beat Norway and Scotland and made their campaign perfect, winning all of their eight matches.

Strengths

Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben; many countries would like them in their squad. The offensive part of the Dutch team is very strong, probably close to world class. The tecnically brilliant Van Persie, the playmaking qualities of Sneijder and the dribbling ability and pace of Robben are a big threat for every opponent. When fully fit, the trio are a dangerous weapon.

Weaknesses

Despite have a good qualifying campaign, the defence has always been a point of discussion in the Netherlands itself. Andre Ooijer is an experienced centre-back, who is however getting a bit old. This has prompted Van Marwijk to make some changes to his back-line. Everton defender John Heitinga will most likely play centre-back in the Dutch team, which leaves an open spot for talented right-back Gregory van der Wiel. Joris Mathijsen has been criticised quite a bit when he started to be a regular player in defence, but his performances are improving and he appears to be a certainty at the back. Giovanni van Bronckhorst is the captain of the team, but people are a bit worried about his qualities. Originally a midfielder, Van Bronckhorst seems to have difficulty with playing against a real winger.

The Coach

Bert van Marwijk was the successor of Marco van Basten after Euro 2008. As a club coach he reached the Dutch Cup final with the modest side Fortuna Sittard in 1999. At Feyenoord he lived his finest moments, winning the UEFA Cup in 2002 and the national Cup in 2008. Van Marwijk is a quiet, conservative coach, who is not likely to bring surprises in the confirmed WC-squad. The possibility of Edwin van der Sar and Ruud van Nistelrooy giving up their international retirement was there for a moment, Van Marwijk snubbed Van Nistelrooy for his provisional squad, while Van der Sar ruled out a comeback himself.

Star Men
Robin van Persie (Arsenal)


One of the key players of English side Arsenal. Spending his youth in the streets of Rotterdam playing 'street soccer', Van Persie created the foundation for his brilliant technique and skills. As his manager Arsene Wenger once said, "there's no player who can hold the ball so close to his foot with his first touch as Van Persie." Being used on the right wing in the past, Van Persie has expressed his desire to play in the striker role in the Dutch team like he does at Arsenal. A forward close to world class.

Wesley Sneijder (Inter)


Real Madrid didn't need him anymore, but at Italian giants Inter, Wesley Sneijder has quickly become one of the club's key players. Sneijder, coming from the youth ranks of Ajax, has the almost unique ability to shoot and pass exceptionally well with his right and left foot. He understands how to play behind the striker of his own team and between the defence and midfield of the opponents. His positioning is very good, which provides him the opportunity to give assists and score goals from distance.

Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)



A very skillful and quick winger, who can drive his opponents mad. His dribbling skills and pace are absolutely great, which makes him a player who can decide matches or break the deadlock. There's only one problem: he is injury prone. Robben used to suffer a lot from injuries and was also known as the man of glass. Robben hasn't been plagued by injury too much though this term and if fully fit, He is a dangerous weapon for any top class side.





Best Footballing Moment
The only tournament won by the Netherlands is the European Championships of 1988. It was the team with stars like Marco van Basten and Ruud Gullit. In 1974, the Dutch team let victory slip away against West Germany after leading 1-0 after only two minutes. Before the converted penalty of Johan Neeskens, no single German had touched the ball. In 1978, Rob Rensenbrink hit the post in the last minute of the final against Argentina at 1-1. An example of 'so close and yet so far away'.

Off The Pitch
Famous for: wooden shoes, the tulips and (most heard from foreigners when asked about the Netherlands), the policy regarding drugs. The Dutch coffee shops are a highlight for all those tourists from all over the world.
Most likely to:
start the tournament very well. The expectations will start to rise in the Netherlands. Will the dream of becoming World Champions finally come true? And then one off-day in the knock out phase will destroy the dream again.

World Cup Objective
The 'Orange fever' will start to grow when the start of the WC comes closer and closer. All programs on TV will be focused on the chance of the Dutch becoming World Champions. Realistically, the quarter-finals are possible, everything beyond that will be a nice surprise.