2014 World Cup Preview: Netherlands
The Dutch are a team that have one of the highest ceilings when they are on their game, but are also known for putting up a clunker of a performance every now and again.
Which side of the Netherlands will we see at the 2014 World Cup? The one that was within five minutes of winning the tournament in 2010 or the one that did not win a game at Euro 2012?
The Dutch have become synonymous with World Cup disappointment throughout the years, as the country has finished in the runner-up position three times, but have never hoisted the Cup. After one of the more heartbreaking Finals at World Cup 2010, the Netherlands looked absolutely dreadful at Euro 2012 where the team might as well of just stayed home.
Following some troubled times, Holland managed to rebound in World Cup qualifying where the team went 9-0-1, but the questions of “Are the Dutch really back” remains to be seen as the team did not face any true heavy-hitters in qualifying.
Manager Louis van Gaal looks to re-implement an attack that the team had been missing in past tournaments, but will this new offensive mindset adversely affect a defense that was the team’s cornerstone in the 2010 Cup?
Oranje hopes a triangle at the top of the formation can provide the production they will need to advance deep into the tournament, and with three of the best attacking players in the world it is only a matter of time before the Dutch find their form in Brazil. World-class striker Robin van Persie will look to continue his impressive international campaign as he hopes to guide the Netherlands through the true group of death at the tournament.
Arjen Robben has carried several teams to championships on his left foot alone, but can this European and domestic Champion add another piece of hardware to his already impressive vault? Wesley Sneijder is a player that is sometimes overlooked and definitely under appreciated, but he is the type of player you want in a close game as he makes great decisions in crunch time.
The Dutch were not done any favors in the World Cup draw, but could still manage to escape the group with solid performances throughout the opening round. One of the more interesting fixtures on tap in the group stages is a rematch of the 2010 Finals when the Netherlands take on Spain in what it sure to be bad blood reunited, but can the Dutch leave the past where it belongs and just focus on getting a result?
Next up for the Netherlands is what should be a guaranteed win against an Australia side that has been getting wholloped by quality sides leading up to the tournament. The Netherlands final group game could have severe implications as the Dutch will most likely be fighting for second place in the group with a Chile that has all-world attackers of their own.
The Dutch are not a team to be taken lightly, but no one has a clue of what side is going to show up in Brazil. As Oranje looks to make another deep run in the tournament, they will need to have their minds right going into the first match.
A rematch with Spain is probably the worst thing that could have happened to the Dutch as they will be trying to fight a battle they have already lost. The Dutch will get emotionally rattled in the Spain game and won’t recover on South American soil, prompting a group stage exit for the Netherlands.
Greg Douglas is a soccer writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on twitter @thegpd93 or add him to your Google Network.