The Netherlands squad for the World Cup has been officially confirmed. Michael Bell takes a look at the 26 Dutchman looking to lead Oranje to glory.

Andries Noppert

One of the revelations in the Eredivisie this season, Heerenveen goalkeeper Andries Noppert has convinced Louis van Gaal of his qualities ahead of the World Cup.

The 28-year-old has not had the most eye-catching career as he has been with NAC Breda, Foggia, Dordrecht and Go Ahead Eagles before returning to boyhood club Heerenveen in the summer. However, he has been in outstanding form this season, keeping six clean sheets in 13 league games, with a save percentage of around 75%.

Noppert was part of the Netherlands squad for the most recent Nations League games and reportedly excelled in the penalty challenge. He is yet to make his debut for Oranje but will be a good backup option for Van Gaal in Qatar. He could be the one subbed on for a penalty shootout.

Justin Bijlow

The 24-year-old has gained a reputation as a safe pair of hands since making his breakthrough at Feyenoord and at one point he looked like the undoubted number one for Oranje under Van Gaal.

He was awarded his debut during the World Cup qualifiers and kept his place for six games in a row, but then injuries came in and he hasn’t appeared in the national team since November 2021.

Bijlow has returned to form recently and was outstanding in Feyenoord’s 1-0 victory over Lazio recently. He has seven clean sheets so far this season and he heads to Qatar as the favourite to start underneath the bar.

An outstanding shot-stopper, Bijlow is also good with his feet and has the capability of being a hero for Oranje.

Remko Pasveer

He only made his Netherlands debut recently at the ripe age of 38, but Remko Pasveer is Ajax’s number one and will go to the World Cup.

Pasveer has always been a reliable stopper but never really gained attention until his spell with Vitesse Arnhem. He earned his move to Ajax and has ousted Jay Gorter and Maarten Stekelenburg to become number one in Amsterdam.

During the most recent Nations League games, Van Gaal gave the experienced goalkeeper his debut and he put in two good performances. However, there have been shaky moments for Ajax this season, which may mean Pasveer heads to Qatar as a backup and not a starter.

Denzel Dumfries

The outstanding right-back in the squad, Dumfries showed how key he could be at the European Championships when he made a name for himself in the group stages. In three games, he contributed two goals and an assist.

Dumfries is one of the first names on the teamsheet under Louis van Gaal and is crucial to the 5-3-2 formation due to his attacking ability and threat. Full of pace and drive, Dumfries loves to get forward and almost acts as a right winger at times.

He may not be the strongest defensively, but the 26-year-old has grown as a player since swapping PSV Eindhoven for Internazionale. Dumfries is regularly linked with a move to the Premier League and a strong World Cup showing could earn him that move.

Van Gaal will have been worried when Dumfries went down injured recently for Inter, but it is not serious and he should be fit for the opener against Senegal.

Jeremie Frimpong

One of the three uncapped players in the squad, Jeremie Frimpong is deservedly heading to Qatar as the backup to Denzel Dumfries on the right of defence.

Devyne Rensch was Van Gaal’s usual backup, but Frimpong’s strong performances for Bayer Leverkusen, in a 5-3-2, have earned him a spot in the squad.

Frimpong was born in Amsterdam, but grew up in England and was part of the Manchester City academy before joining Celtic in 2019. He starred for the Scottish side before moving to Germany in 2021. Since moving to Leverkusen, Frimpong has excelled and he has seven goals and 13 assists in 68 appearances.

Like Dumfries, Frimpong is an attacking full-back, who loves to provide assists and goals. He plays advances for Leverkusen and that means he is not the strongest defensively. However, he is quick and under the guidance of Van Gaal, he can excel.

Frimpong could have represented England or Ghana but has been clear that he wanted Oranje and he will get that chance in Qatar.

Virgil van Dijk

The Netherlands captain and possibly the most important player on the pitch for Oranje. Van Dijk is the leader and controller of the 5-man defence.

The Liverpool star is having a shaky season in the Premier League but his importance to Van Gaal cannot be understated. In 49 caps, he has never let Oranje down and he has also provided some crucial goals as he is a threat from set pieces.

Van Dijk is heading into his first World Cup and also his first major tournament as he was missing from the Euros last year. His absence was felt but if the Netherlands are to lift the World Cup, Van Dijk will need to be at his best in Qatar.

Jurrien Timber

An excellent defender with tons of potential, Timber is heading to his first World Cup and is expected to be one of the starting centre-backs in the 5-3-2.

The 21-year-old broke into Ajax’s first team under Erik ten Hag and quickly earned a spot in the Netherlands line-up. He now has ten caps and Van Gaal recently stated during the last international period that Timber was part of his strongest defence along with Van Dijk and Nathan Ake.

Timber excels at reading the game and building from the back, which is the Ajax way. Things have not gone smoothly since Alfred Schreuder took charge in Amsterdam, but Timber remains an excellent talent and is likely to get the nod ahead of Matthijs de Ligt and Stefan de Vrij in Qatar.

Manchester United are already sniffing around Timber and a big money move could follow if he continues to develop.

Matthijs de Ligt

Netherlands centre-back options are so strong that De Ligt heads to Qatar potentially only as a backup.

De Ligt broke onto the scene with Ajax before spending time with Juventus and now Bayern Munich. De Ligt’s power and leadership at the back have seen him excel and he already has 38 caps at the age of 23.

De Ligt is fighting back from an injury but he has had a good season so far with Bayern Munich and heads to Qatar confident. Van Gaal is a fan of the centre-back but realises that De Ligt can still be a bit rash at times and that can lead to an error.

However, De Ligt is keen to show that he has matured and he will be looking to make amends for his red card against the Czech Republic at the Euros last year.

Nathan Ake

An experienced defender now at 27, Ake has never been a fixed part of the Netherlands squad but under Van Gaal, he is now assured of a spot in the 5-man defence.

Van Gaal insists on a left-footed defender playing on the left of the three centre-backs and that means Ake is bound to start with the other option being Daley Blind.

Ake is having a strong season at Manchester City and can also fill in at left-back if needed throughout the tournament. Ake has 29 caps for the national team, scoring three goals.

This is the tournament for Ake to shine.

Stefan de Vrij

The centre-back was one of the stars of Van Gaal’s 2014 World Cup squad and he makes the cut eight years later too.

De Vrij heads to Qatar not expected to be in the starting eleven, but the 30-year-old is a calm head that will excel if called on throughout the tournament. At the moment, Van Dijk and Timber are ahead of him in the pecking order and it will be between De Ligt and De Vrij to act as a stand-in.

Since leaving Feyenoord, De Vrij has starred in Serie A, firstly with Lazio and then Inter Milan. De Vrij is a Serie A winner with Inter and many feel his tally of 59 caps is too low for a defender of his ability.

Daley Blind

The most experienced member of the Netherlands squad with 94 caps, Blind heads to Qatar an important player for Van Gaal, despite his lack of form at club level.

The 32-year-old has lost his place in the Ajax starting eleven recently, but under Van Gaal, he has remained the first-choice left-back.

Blind may lack pace and is a defensive liability, but in a back five, he is useful due to his ability on the ball. He gets the Netherlands on the transition and is one of the players that can create chances in the elven.

This may well be Blind’s final international tournament and he will be hoping to go out with a bang. Not the most popular player in the squad, but Blind can be crucial for Van Gaal.

Tyrell Malacia

Getting in ahead of Owen Wijndal and Mitchel Bakker for the second left-back spot is Manchester United’s Tyrell Malacia, who has six caps to his name so far.

Malacia was a key figure for Feyenoord over the past few seasons before he made the move to Manchester in the summer. Malacia started well in England but has since lost his starting spot to Luke Shaw.

The 23-year-old is a reliable left-back, who does his defensive duties well, but he is not as comfortable in the attacking positions. He is yet to provide any assists for Manchester United and only got ten in 136 appearances for Feyenoord.

However, if Netherlands come up against stronger nations then Malacia’s defensive capabilities may be useful for Van Gaal.

Frenkie de Jong

The superstar of the Netherlands midfield, it has been a hectic few months for De Jong, who was at the centre of countless headlines in the summer.

De Jong broke through with Ajax and was a major part of their run to the Champions League semi-finals. He then made, what seemed to be, a perfect move to Barcelona the following summer. However, things have not always been rosy in Barcelona.

In the summer, Barcelona needed to raise funds and De Jong was one of the players they were looking to move on with Manchester United heavily linked. De Jong put his foot down and decided he wanted to stay and he has since won his place back in the Barcelona starting eleven. He is now showing some top form and Spanish media recently said they are seeing the best of De Jong now.

For the Netherlands, De Jong has always been dependable and his driving runs from midfield are a joy to behold. The 25-year-old will have the most possession in Oranje and he will be used to drive the Netherlands up the field.

If De Jong impresses in Qatar then the Netherlands can definitely go far in the tournament.

Marten de Roon

An unsung hero in the Netherlands squad, De Roon’s work in the midfield often goes unnoticed but he will be crucial for Van Gaal in Qatar if the Netherlands are to go far.

De Roon is the only natural ball-winner in the Netherlands squad and he is a perfect partner for De Jong, who will be allowed to roam free with the Atalanta man around to fill in the gaps.

Van Gaal recently sang the praises of the 31-year-old and called him crucial for the tournament. His heart will have been in his mouth when De Roon recently got injured, but he is back fit and will be available for the tournament.

De Roon can sometimes go missing against teams that sit deep and invite pressure but expect the midfielder to come into his own if the Netherlands get to the quarter-finals and beyond.

Davy Klaassen

Nicknamed, “Mr 1-0”, Klaassen has scored some crucial goals for Ajax and the Dutch national team over the years, but there are some that would rather not see him in the squad at all.

Klaassen is an experienced attacking midfielder who excels at finding gaps around the penalty box, but he can go missing in games and is not the best in possession.

Klaassen has not been a guaranteed starter for Ajax this season but Van Gaal is sticking by the 29-year-old, who may be used throughout the tournament as a man for the final stages of games.

If the Netherlands are drawing 0-0 late in games, don’t count out Klaassen popping up with a crucial poachers goal. After Memphis Depay, Klaassen has the most goals for the Netherlands in the squad with nine.

Teun Koopmeiners

One of the big questions for Van Gaal going into the group stages is who will partner Frenkie in the midfield, and that man could be Koopmeiners.

The midfielder is yet to excel in Oranje yet despite some excellent performances in Italy with Atalanta. However, Qatar is the perfect place for Koopmeiners to showcase his ability and make a name for himself with plenty of scouts watching.

The 24-year-old has excellent vision and passing ability, while he can be an asset from set pieces. Koopmeiners is also an excellent penalty-taker and that could convince Van Gaal to keep him on the pitch if that time comes.

Kenneth Taylor

After Ryan Gravenberch departed Ajax for Bayern Munich in the summer, Kenneth Taylor took his spot and the same has happened in the Netherlands squad with the latter getting the nod.

The 20-year-old is having an impressive campaign, despite Ajax’s struggles and he has five goals and three assists in 12 Eredivisie games.

Taylor is a versatile box-to-box midfielder, who can do the dirty work at the back but also excels in possession. He brings energy and his dribbling ability is also impressive.

Taylor is a man who can do it all and adds a reliable option to the bench. Taylor is a future star in Oranje and the tournament will give him plenty of experience even if he is only given limited playing time.

Xavi Simons

The wonderkid of Oranje, Simons has been in the media spotlight for years as he came through the Barcelona academy before joining PSG. He made a handful of appearances for PSG but in the summer he decided to join PSV Eindhoven.

It has gone quickly for Simons since as he has now earned his World Cup spot due to an impressive tally of 10 goals and four assists in 22 games. He has also shown his versatility by playing as a 10, winger and even a false nine throughout the season.

Simons is yet to make his Oranje debut but Van Gaal is impressed and he is set to be his wildcard option for the tournament. Van Gaal used Memphis Depay as an option off the bench in 2014 and Simons could be exactly the same.

Simons is direct, skilful and at 19 has absolutely no fear. He is certainly one to watch in Qatar.

Steven Berghuis

Right-winger, number ten or even a number six, Berghuis can do it all and has been the standout player for Ajax this season in a disappointing campaign.

If Netherlands was playing a 4-3-3 then Berghuis would be the starting right-winger, but in the 5-3-2, Berghuis is looking for a spot in the midfield, where he can use his speed, dribbling ability and creativity.

He may only have two goals in 39 caps, but Berghuis heads into the tournament as one of the most confident players in Oranje. At 30 he is also one of the experienced heads that will be needed to steer Van Gaal’s vision.

Cody Gakpo

What an incredible campaign the PSV Eindhoven forward is having and the World Cup is now ready to get Gakpo fever.

The 23-year-old has always been a threat for PSV on the wings and he was linked with a move to Manchester United and Leeds United in the summer before electing to remain. That has been a great decision for Gakpo, who has 30 goal contributions (13 goals and 17 assists) in 24 appearances this season.

Van Gaal now needs to fit Gakpo into a 5-3-2 formation and it appears that he will be selected in the number ten position rather than in attack. In the most recent internationals, Gakpo was used as the ten and he has two goals and an assist in his last three caps.

A tall and direct dribbler, Gakpo has a powerful strike and is also an expert corner taker. With Van Dijk and Ake in the box, Gakpo could be crucial from set pieces.

If you are looking for one player that may break out at the World Cup then it could be Gakpo, who will no doubt have plenty of scouts coming to watch him excel.

Noa Lang

Van Gaal has his favoured attackers and he also wants some attacking threat that can make a big impact off the bench. One of those that can make an impact is Noa Lang of Club Brugge.

The 23-year-old is actually having a frustrating campaign in Belgium and has suffered from injuries and a drop in form. However, Lang is someone that Van Gaal trusts and thinks can make a difference.

A tricky winger that is full of confidence, Lang has one goal in five caps so far but also 30 goals and 29 assists in 101 appearances for Club Brugge.

Lang can be used in the front two or even in the number ten position, where he can use his unpredictability and swagger. Lang is one of the players looking to use the World Cup as a springboard.

Underestimate Lang at your own peril.

Memphis Depay

There is no way to underestimate just how important Memphis is to the Netherlands attack and Van Gaal will be praying he remains fit to play through the tournament.

The forward has had on-and-off periods for club sides but in Oranje, he is a totally different beast. Memphis is only eight goals away from levelling Robin van Persie as the nation’s all-time leading scorer, while he is already the country’s king of assists.

The fitness of the forward has been a major concern for Van Gaal as he has not played since September. It has already been confirmed that Memphis will not start the opener against Senegal but he should be available off the bench.

His creativity, pace and power are Netherland’s biggest weapon up front and if he excels in Qatar then Oranje can look forward to a great tournament.

Steven Bergwijn

One of the players who has excelled under the 5-3-2 of Van Gaal is Bergwijn, who was crucial in sealing Oranje’s place at the tournament with the goal and assist in the 2-0 win over Norway. He then went on to score four goals in his next three internationals.

Bergwijn swapped Tottenham Hotspur for a return to Ajax in the summer but the move has not been a major success as expected. He got off to a great start but the goals have recently dried up, even though 11 in 21 games seems a good record.

Van Gaal will be hoping that the Bergwijn and Memphis partnership clicks in Qatar, which could lead the Netherlands to the latter stages of the tournament. Bergwijn’s speed, strength and eye for goal are major weapons for Oranje.

Vincent Janssen

The resurgence continues for Janssen, who was given his chance back in the national team by Van Gaal after years in Mexico with Monterrey. Janssen impressed Van Gaal and has been in good form since returning to Europe with Royal Antwerp.

Nine goals in 17 league matches in Belgium have sealed Janssen’s place in the squad and Van Gaal has even stated he is in line to start the first match against Senegal with Memphis not fit enough.

Janssen was an important striker for the national team until he moved to Tottenham and he proved why recently with his strong performances up front during the Nations League. Janssen excels at holding the ball up and bringing others into play. He can be a perfect partner for Memphis or Bergwijn and an impact player off the bench.

Janssen was written off by many because of what happened at Tottenham and his decision to move to Mexico, but the striker is proving people wrong. The World Cup is another place for him to showcase his talent.

Wout Weghorst

The 30-year-old is a handful for defences and he heads to Qatar as one of the two big, tall strikers in the squad.

Weghorst made a name for himself with AZ Alkmaar and Wolfsburg but struggled to perform in the Premier League last season with Burnley. This season he has found his form again in Turkey, netting six times and adding four assists while on loan with Besiktas.

Weghorst is not just a target man, he is good with his feet and can bring others into play. The striker is a defender’s nightmare and off the bench, he could be a valuable asset.

Luuk de Jong

A dependable and useful striker to have in the squad, Luuk de Jong is on his way to Qatar.

With one of the finest headers in football, De Jong has had a varied career with highs and lows, but he recently made a name for himself at Barcelona before returning to PSV Eindhoven. He has suffered from injuries, but now back, De Jong has proven himself to be in decent form.

De Jong may not be one of the first names on the teamsheet in Qatar, but Van Gaal knows what to expect from the forward and that makes him invaluable. Going into the final few minutes of a match, De Jong is not only useful at holding the ball up but if you are pumping the ball into the box then he is the one you want to find the head of.




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