It’s been eight long years since the Netherlands have played a World Cup game, a 3-0 victory over Brazil that earned them the honor of third place in 2014. They now return with the same manager, Louis van Gaal, whose tactics have made the Dutch one of the most entertaining sides in Brazil, but the trace left by his later successors and predecessors is a big part of why the time elapsed between their last World Cup appearances has been so long and chaotic.
Their absence from Euro 2016 under Guus Hiddkink was followed by their failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup under Dick Advocaat, as well as a lot of soul-searching. The Netherlands seemed to regain their spark under Ronald Koeman and quickly reached Euro 2020, but his move to Barcelona left them stranded. The Dutch failed to impress on their return to a major tournament and there were no surprises when Frank de Boer left just two days after their tepid round of 16 loss to the Czech Republic.
And so Van Gaal has stepped up, for his third spell in charge of the national team and his first job since leaving Manchester United in 2016. Van Gaal – who underwent successful surgery earlier this year on aggressive form prostate cancer – inherited a team that is less polished than the end of the golden age of 2014, but still loaded with star talent. Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt will feature in a World Cup for the first time and under Van Gaal the Netherlands have also found some of their joy again.
Although they overtook Turkey and Norway in qualifying, their Nations League results proved promising – including a 4-2 crushing victory over their Belgian rivals. Indeed, having qualified for the Nations League final, there is an argument that the Dutch are the fittest European team ahead of the World Cup. With Van Gaal set to retire once again after the World Cup, can he leave the country with another memorable and unexpected run?
Here’s everything you need to know:
Group meetings(all GMT times)
Monday November 21: Senegal vs Netherlands – 4:00 p.m.
Friday November 25: Netherlands vs Ecuador – 4:00 p.m.
Tuesday November 29: Netherlands vs Qatar – 3:00 p.m.
Dutch team confirmed
Guardians: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Remko Pasveer (Ajax), Andries Noppert (sc Heerenveen)
Defenders: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Nathan Aké (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Jurriën Timber (Ajax), Denzel Dumfries (Internazionale), Stefan de Vrij (Internazionale), Mathijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), Tyrell Malacia ( Manchester United), Jeremy Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen)
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona), Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Cody Gakpo (PSV), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax), Xavi Simons (PSV)
Forwards: Memphis Depay (FC Barcelona), Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Vincent Janssen (Royal Antwerp FC), Luuk de Jong (PSV), Noa Lang (Club Brugge), Wout Weghorst (Beşiktaş)
Star – Virgil van Djik: An ACL injury sorely deprived the Liverpool defender of his first major tournament appearance as he missed out on Euro 2020, and he will relish the opportunity to play in Qatar. He remains one of the best defenders in the world, returning to his best last season, and while there have been question marks this campaign, the presence of the colossus helps bring certainty and confidence to the team. which the Euros lacked.
Evasion Talent – Cody Gakpo: Manchester United sniffed around the PSV winger this summer and their interest was mirrored by a host of other Premier League sides. Homegrown talent rarely stays in the Eredivisie for long and the 23-year-old certainty appears to be next to come out of the block. A tall, lanky striker who looks to cut inside his right foot and doesn’t hesitate to shoot on goal, he is one of Europe’s top scorers this season.
The Netherlands are expected to top Group A and could grab attention in the early stages of the World Cup with goalscoring and entertaining football that could even make Van Gaal’s side speak like dark horses. The Dutch’s favorable draw is set to extend into the Round of 16, where they could face Wales or the United States unless England spoil Group B. However, there is a reason why the Netherlands aren’t quite in the top tier of World Cup contenders. , and that could be discovered in the quarter-finals, probably by Argentina. Defeated in the quarter-finals.