WORLD CUP FORECAST: Group B – Are the Dutch capable of atoning for 2010?

Holland will be determined to shake the tag of World Cup bridesmaid when they compete at Brazil 2014.
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Holland will be determined to shake the tag of World Cup bridesmaid when they compete at Brazil 2014.

The Oranje were unsuccessful in South Africa in 2010, losing in extra-time to Spain in the final, who coincidentally they have drawn in Group B this time around.

Louis van Gaal is a very astute manager and will leave no stone unturned in his quest for glory but inopportunely, this year’s draw may work against the Dutch.

The likelihood of a second-place finish in their group – behind the Spaniards – will see Holland take on hosts Brazil in the Round of 16 which could quite possibly be their undoing.

The three-time runner-up will be hoping things fall their way in the group stages so they can sneak into top spot to tee up a potential match-up with either Croatia or Mexico in the knockout stages which would be considerably more suitable than facing off against the might of Brazil.

Holland

Manager: Louis van Gaal

Fixtures: Spain - June 13 (Salvador), Australia - June 18 (Porto Alegre), Chile - June 23 (Sao Paulo)

Past outings against group opponents: June 13 will be the first meeting between Spain and Netherlands since the Final of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Spain came out on top that night thanks to a single Andres Iniesta strike deep into extra-time. They have met nine times in total dating back to the Olympic Games of 1920. The Dutch have won four of those nine encounters.

Unbelievably, Netherlands haven’t beaten Australia in three attempts, drawing twice and losing 2-1 in a friendly in 2008.

The Dutch have never played Chile at senior international level.

Key players: Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord)

World Cup utopia: Holland will back themselves to get a result against Spain and hope to top the group. From there anything is possible and they will be looking to atone for their 2010 shortcoming.

Doomsday scenario: Failure to progress to the Round of 16 would be an absolute disaster.

Qualified by virtue of: Winning UEFA Group D qualifying.

Best result at a World Cup: Runner-up (1974, 1978 and 2010)

tribal’s forecast:

The loss of Roma star Kevin Strootman to a knee injury has visibly weakened the Dutch squad, especially seeing as he was one of the side’s ‘big three’, which van Gaal was set to depend on.

Strootman’s absence will leave too much to do for van Persie, whose recent domestic form has been blighted by more injuries, while Robben has been in fine touch at Bayern but having to rely on the flying winger will give great cause for concern.

Going forward, Holland are up there with the best when van Persie and Robben are on song and given assistance by the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart. They provide both class and experience in behind the front men but could be found wanting if van Gaal is hoping to start his defence from attack.

An outstanding qualifying campaign saw the Dutch finish on 28 points from a possible 30 in Group D, ending up nine points clear of second-placed Romania, and joining Germany as the best-performed sides in Europe over the qualifying period.

van Persie was in resplendent scoring form with 11 qualifying goals so it is clear to see that a lot rides on his fitness and subsequent form in Brazil.

Unfortunately, however, the fate that awaits the Dutch in the Round of 16 should the group stage go the way we suggest may be too much of a task for Holland who are destined to underachieve, as they did at Euro2012, after seemingly shaking off that biennial tag four years ago.

Prediction: Round of 16

 
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