Not many people paid attention to the Netherlands football team before the World Cup. Despite having some of the biggest names in the sport, they were hardly discussed. Now, with only eight teams remaining in the tournament, they have every chance to prove the doubters wrong. Last Word on Football looks at the Dutchmen’s chances of winning their first-ever World Cup.
Will the Netherlands Win the World Cup?
🔜 #NEDARG 🇦🇷#NothingLikeOranje #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/Gr3AUz2spb
— OnsOranje (@OnsOranje) December 7, 2022
Why They Will
The Netherlands are one of four teams who remain unbeaten in the World Cup. They have only conceded 2 goals in the tournament which is second-best only to Morocco, and come into the quarter-finals on the back of an impressive 3-1 win against a competitive American team. This game also saw their talisman, Memphis Depay, return to the scoresheet.
The Oranje possess a world-class defence, consisting of captain Virgil van Dijk and Manchester City’s Nathan Ake. The towering Mathijs de Ligt completes the backline as the Dutch play a 3-5-2 formation. Their aerial prowess and defensive solidarity gives their full-backs, Denzel Dumfries and Daley Blind, the freedom to bomb forward on the flanks.
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Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong controls the tempo of the game from midfield. However, their shining star is 22-year-old Cody Gakpo. His speed, dribbling skills and physicality make him cause match-up problems no matter which team the Dutch go up against. Gakpo’s versatility will attract the attention of the opposition, which allows the rest of the talented team to wreak havoc.
The Netherlands’ bench also boasts a plethora of talent and quality. The likes of Steven Bergwijn, Wout Weghorst and Tyrell Malacia can turn the tide in the Dutchmen’s favour when needed. Finally, Louis van Gaal’s vast managerial experience and tactical nous make the Dutch a complete squad which should not be taken lightly.
Why They Won’t
Despite their recent good performances, the Netherlands have not been tested yet. That is set to change when they face Lionel Messi and Argentina in the quarterfinals. If the Dutch are to win their first major title in 34 years, they need to knock out the pre-tournament favourites.
Opposing teams will also look to overrun the Dutch in the midfield. Argentina’s formation would likely see Messi drop into the midfield in an attempt to connect the defence and the attack. The Dutchmen would need all hands on deck to win the midfield battle in their upcoming games if they are to be successful.
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The Oranje also lack major tournament experience. Only three of the current squad of 26 have played in a World Cup prior to this. Most of the squad has only played in one major tournament before, which happens to be last year’s European Championship. The latter stages of a World Cup can surely test one’s mental strength and the Dutch will hope to clear that hurdle.
Upcoming World Cup Test for the Netherlands
The Netherlands will have their hands full when they face Argentina next. They will need their senior players to be the calming influence on and off the field. The Dutch fans will be hoping that the likes of Gakpo, Depay, de Jong and van Dijk step up to the plate as they aim to win football’s ultimate prize.
Last Word on Football recognise Qatar’s human rights abuses and instances of corruption taking place throughout the nation and in the background of the World Cup. Learn more about some of the issues surrounding the World Cup here.