Louis van Gaal must complete an important World Cup appearance before taking control of Manchester United. The head coach of the Netherlands team has a lot of pressure, since last tournament’s appearance in the final seems hard to replicate. The Dutch basically created “total football” and van Gaal has had some backlash since he started talking about a 5-3-2 formation. However, with the talent that he included in the final 23-man squad, this is a perfect fit. This is the most probable lineup from the Oranje:
Starting XI: Cillesen (GK,) Janmaat, Vlaar, de Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind; N. de Jong, de Guzmán, Sneijder; Robben, van Persie.
With many changes from the squad that reached the 2010 World Cup Final, the defensive line is the one that’s completely changed. Feyenoord star Daryl Janmaat has been a key player in the 2nd place finish of his team in this year’s Eredivisie. With an attack-minded approach, the young talent can be crucial in helping the midfield provide balls to the attacking men. The same applies to Daley Blind, who has adapted to the left back position this season at Ajax, but also spent quite some time as a defensive midfielder. Ron Vlaar will provide the experience in the rest of the defensive line, as de Vrij and Martins Indi are only 22 at the moment. However, the two youngsters have been a key part of Feyenoord’s solid defense in the last couple of seasons. Head coach van Gaal switched this lineup to a classic 4-4-2 against Wales, but the overall dynamics of the team still seems like a 5-3-2.
The midfield line is more defensive-minded, since de Jong and de Guzmán aren’t known for being very good playmakers. However, there’s a chance that Jordy Clasie could make it into the starting XI. Regarded as “the new Xavi,” Clasie has a lot more vision than the two starters, but isn’t as defensive. This could be a good choice if van Gaal finds it hard to control the ball against Spain, Chile and Australia. The magic will be left to Sneijder‘s feet, since Rafael van der Vaart’s injury has left him out of the final squad. The former Inter Milan and Real Madrid star has lowered his form, since the Turkish league isn’t as competitive as the Serie A or La Liga, but this man was a key part of the Oranje making successful runs in the Euro 2008 and the last World Cup.
Robben and van Persie complete the lineup as the two attackers. The Bayern Munich star is in top form and his explosiveness will play an important role in making the Dutch a successful goal-scoring team. Known for being a nightmare to all defenders, he has the power to find spaces, make the last pass and even score. On the other hand, van Persie wasn’t as lethal this season with Manchester United, but nobody should question his ability to score goals.
The Dutch don’t follow the “total football” style anymore, but their individual talents will be the ones to push the Oranje into the later stages of the World Cup. It’s highly unlikely that they will be able to steal the ball possession from Chile or Spain, which makes the playmaker’s role extremely important, in addition to the left and right backs. They need to take advantage of any ball they get in order to get ahead. There’s no room for mistakes in the World Cup as they already know from finishing in second place three times. This year will prove to be a transition between the young and the experienced. With players like Strootman, van Ginkel, Rekik, Maher and Siem de Jong, the team has a potential bright future even if they don’t make it far in this tournament.