Netherlands World Cup 2022 squad information: A rock-solid protection however uncertainty in objective

After a fallow interval that included the failure to qualify for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup, and a disappointingly early exit from Euro 2020, the Netherlands head to Qatar with a balanced crew and an skilled supervisor — the straight-talking Louis van Gaal…


The supervisor

The legendary Louis van Gaal is likely one of the most profitable managers of the final three many years, successful a bunch of main honors with Ajax, Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and Manchester United whereas enjoying an attacking model of soccer that always made his groups universally revered.

Nevertheless, within the second of his three spells in command of the Dutch nationwide crew (the primary noticed his crew fail to qualify for the 2002 match), he stunned followers and pundits by choosing a extra conservative 5-3-2 formation on the 2014 World Cup, anticipating that it will give his crew the perfect probability of success. And he was proper: his crew completed third in Brazil and conceded simply 4 targets in seven matches. They misplaced on penalties to Argentina within the semi-finals.

Earlier this 12 months Van Gaal cited Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea as an inspiration, explaining how a crew arrange in a 5-3-2 or 3-5-2 system could be each defensively stable but in addition threaten overloads going ahead, and he’s more likely to line up his crew equally in Qatar.

After failing to qualify in 2002 and falling on the penultimate hurdle in 2014, Van Gaal will do all the things in his energy to make it third time fortunate in what is going to absolutely be his final teaching job.


That is Van Gaal’s third stint because the Netherlands supervisor (Photograph: Getty)

The family title you have not heard of but

Having made a reputation for himself within the Dutch Eredivisie, PSV’s Cody Gakpo was seemingly on the verge of an enormous switch to the Premier League over the summer time. Manchester United confirmed an early curiosity within the winger — with Gakpo later admitting that he was near leaving — however in the long run the deal fell by way of. Leeds and Southampton have been closely linked, too, however on the ultimate day of the Dutch switch window, Gakpo determined to remain put. That very same day he was centered sufficient to attain a hat-trick in a 7-1 win over Volendam.

Enjoying huge on the left wing or within the No 10 position, Gakpo is fast and skilful, with long-distance capturing his trademark; his super-powerful ‘hip-shots’ are harking back to the Brazilian Adriano throughout his Inter heyday. Gakpo has spoken of how Ruud van Nistelrooy helped him good his ending within the PSV academy.

This 12 months they’re re-united within the first crew with the previous Manchester United striker now head coach. Gakpo has continued to impress: 13 targets and 15 assists in 24 video games thus far this season are numbers that may solely have extra Premier League golf equipment pulling down PSV’s door. A powerful displaying in Qatar will solely heighten the clamour.

Strengths

The defensive choices the Netherlands have at their disposal are actually exceptional. Virgil van Dijk has been one of many world’s finest defenders lately, even when his type this season hasn’t lived as much as his personal requirements. Then there are Bayern Munich’s Matthijs de Ligt, and Inter’s Stefan de Vrij. The performances of Nathan Ake (Manchester Metropolis) and Jurrien Timber (Ajax) have additionally been spectacular over the past 12 months.

And it isn’t as in the event that they’re understaffed at full-back. Daley Blind (Ajax), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United) and Denzel Dumfries (Inter) additionally all have expertise on the highest stage.

Typically, the crew has an excellent mixture of thrilling younger expertise and big-match expertise. A few of their high gamers, reminiscent of Van Dijk and Barcelona ahead Memphis Depay are someplace close to the height of their careers. Though not at all times positive of a beginning spot at Camp Nou, Depay has actually delivered for the Dutch crew lately, and that type is mirrored in his targets. He solely wants 9 extra to interrupt the nation’s all-time goalscoring report, at the moment held by Robin van Persie (50).


Memphis Depay is closing in on turning into the Netherlands’ all-time high scorer (Photograph: Getty)

Weaknesses

The crew hasn’t had a settled first-choice goalkeeper since Euro 2020, and at the same time as we method the World Cup it’s unclear who will probably be their beginning keeper.

Justin Bijlow, Jasper Cillessen and Mark Flekken have all been given an opportunity within the final 18 months, however within the two most up-to-date video games 39-year previous Remko Pasveer has earned his first two caps for the nationwide crew, and may very well be in line to begin in opposition to Senegal within the Netherlands’ first group recreation.

His probabilities elevated additional when Cillessen and Flekken have been axed from Van Gaal’s ultimate squad, with uncapped Andries Noppert of Heerenveen chosen forward of them. Meaning the three goalkeepers touring to Qatar can have a mixed eight caps. Pasveer joined Ajax from Vitesse Arnhem final 12 months, having beforehand spent three years as PSV’s back-up keeper.

Though he has performed within the Champions League this season, he has no expertise of worldwide match soccer. Ought to he be chosen, he may very well be an enormous psychological step up.

Native information

Like many international locations, the Dutch FA give their backing to an official anthem forward of any main match the Netherlands take part in, with the track produced with the purpose of accelerating the ambiance again dwelling. Though this time Dutch public are a bit extra reserved in regards to the upcoming match in Qatar, this 12 months is not any completely different.

The 2022 track known as Mijn Oranje Hart (My Orange Coronary heart), which was chosen by singer Mart Hoogkamer on I Need Your Music, a Dutch TV present wherein a number of songwriters pitch songs to well-known artists.

The monitor from duo Carlo Rijsdijk and Manfred Jongenelis received the competition. Hoogkamer will carry out the track on matchdays of the Dutch crew on the ‘Huis van Oranje’, an official fan occasion organized by the Dutch federation (KNVB) again within the Netherlands.

Again dwelling expectations

One other run to the semi-finals could be seen as achievement, and it could not even be an unrealistic goal. The Dutch crew has been in spectacular type main as much as the World Cup (they’ve received 11 and drawn 4 of their 15 matches since being knocked out of Euro 2020 by the Czech Republic) and in the event that they end high of their group and all others end as anticipated, the one main impediment between them and the final 4 could be Argentina.

The Dutch media have been fairly optimistic about this crew, fueled by topping their Nations League group which additionally contained Belgium, and there’s unlikely to be an enormous temper swing if issues do not work out in Qatar.

There may be an acceptance that the brand new 12 months will deliver the daybreak of a brand new period, with Van Gaal having indicated from the beginning that he would solely be teaching the crew up till the tip of the World Cup.

In January one other acquainted face will take over, with Ronald Koeman starting his second stint as Dutch coach having been sacked by Barcelona final 12 months.

Learn extra: See the remainder of The Athletic’s World Cup 2022 squad guides

(Images: Getty Photos; design: Sam Richardson)

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