With the World Cup now only days away, and the Netherlands are set to start their campaign against defending champions Spain in a repeat of 2010’s showpiece, there are several discussion points on the minds of several fans going into this tournament. We take a look at 8 of these issues.

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  • By Adrian Bucher
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As with every team, a long list of questions often flow around the minds of fans everywhere. Who will play? How far will the team go? Which tactics will be used? As Dutch fans everywhere hold their collective breath in anticipation of the Oranje’s opening fixture, there are some personnel questions that ought to be contemplated.

de vrij asdHas van Gaal Placed Too Much Faith in his Young Guns?

With an average age of just over 26 years, this is certainly a very young Dutch squad going into the World Cup. As is often the case, experience in knock-out tournaments can never be over-stated, with former goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar recently bemoaning the lack of experienced players on the national side as a potential obstacle to the team doing well. Regardless of whether this young squad thrives or folds in front of the world, it is clear to see that strong foundations are being built for the Oranje, and there remains the strong possibility that this team will form a strong cohesive unit in the not-too-distant future.

cillessen adHow Will Jasper Cillessen Perform in Goal?

One of these young guns that we’re talking about is Ajax goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen. At the age of 25, Cillessen has not only usurped Kenneth Vermeer in goal at the Amsterdam ArenA, but is also Louis van Gaal’s first choice ‘keeper to manage the defence at the World cup. There is much pressure placed on the shoulders, or gloves, rather, on the Groesbeek-native, as he will be inevitably compared to his predecessors from previous World cups, such as Maarten Stekelenburg and Edwin van der Sar. However, based on his performance for both club and country, Cillessen has earned the admiration from former captain van der Sar: “He’s looked good as a young goalkeeper, he’s very good with his feet”.

robbCan Arjen Robben Carry his Form to the World cup?

Undoubtedly, Bayern Munich’s Arjen Robben was the Netherland’s in-form man in Europe. Some scintillating displays by the former PSV player had seen Bayern capture the Bundesliga title in record time and later secure a cup win for the Bavarians over Dortmund. Robben has also put in a string of good performances during the Netherland’s friendly matches, and is looking in good shape ahead of the opener against Spain. Much of the Netherland’s success will rest on the creativity of Robben, who will be hoping to put the missed chances of 2010’s final, and the failures of Euro 2012 behind him.

sneijder adWill Sneijder Prove doubters Wrong?

Another player crucial to the Netherland’s goal-scoring opportunities will be the man that played a huge role in the Netherland’s 2010 run to the final: Wesley Sneijder. Heavily criticised by many following his move to Turkish Side Galatasaray, his place in Brazil was threatened by van Gaal: “You should be able to deliver at club level every week. If you can’t deliver at your club, then you most definitely can’t deliver at the national team”. Sneijder’s recent performances for the national team seem to justify his inclusion in the Dutch 23-man squad, but with a daunting group stage campaign ahead, many will wonder “if that one through-ball doesn’t happen”.

van p captCan van Persie Rise to the Occasion?

Arguably no other player in the Dutch squad will feel as much pressure to deliver as Robin van Persie. Having been selected as the captain, van Persie will assume a new sort of role than he’s previously had. It will be up to him to lead the charge this summer, and it doesn’t end there. With van Gaal set to take over at Manchester United this summer, this summer’s showpiece will likely have a large say in how Robin fits into van Gaal’s plans at Old Trafford. van Persie is at the peak of his career. After disappointing campaigns with the Oranje in past tournaments, this will likely be his last shot at being a central figure to the Netherland’s quest for silverware.

depay 67Who Will Partner van Persie Up Front?

With van Gaal insisting on a 5-3-2 formation, one aspect of the squad that needs to be addressed is the role of the attacking players. Going into the tournament, the makeup of the frontline remains in doubt. While van Persie is a sure-starter, the identity of his partner in attack remains open for discussion. As of yet, it appears that Robben will be occupying a more central role in attack, however, many argue that this new position does not quite get the best out of the Groningen-native. Additionally, fitness concerns remain over the captain, and if van Persie is unlucky to suffer a knock, who will van Gaal turn to? The more experienced players in Huntelaar and Kuyt? Or perhaps one of the newer faces in the form of Memphis Depay?

van gaal miWill van Gaal be Distracted?

One of the biggest news concerning the Dutch camp was the announcement of Louis van Gaal’s appointment as head coach of English Premier League side Manchester United. Though van Gaal will not technically be assuming his new role until pre-season begins in July, there has already been much talk of the transfer market, training facilities and issues regarding the coaching staff. With the announcement coming so soon before the World Cup, there are concerns that the Netherland’s pre-tournament preparations may have suffered a setback as a result of the head coach dividing his time between preparing for the upcoming tournament and his new job. It remains to be seen whether the announcement came at the expense of the Oranje.

blind ecuCan Blind Live Up to Expectations?

One of the players rumoured to be heading on his way to be part of van Gaal’s Old Trafford set-up is Daley Blind. Having improved exponentially in the past couple of years, the once anomalous figure in the Ajax squad has gone on to be a main stay on the Dutch starting XI. A player that can play in the middle of the park, or as a full-back, at a young age, this World cup can have a large say in the direction of Blind’s footballing career. Having won the accolade of Dutch Footballer of the Year recently, Daley has a chance to announce himself on the world stage.


Adrian Bucher (39 Posts)