The Oranje is part of one of the most difficult groups of the 2014 World Cup. Spain defends their title and Chile is hoping to repeat the 1962 third place finish with a bright squad. It’s not crazy to think many people see the Dutch saying goodbye this early, since the team’s form since the last World Cup has gone down. While they almost made a perfect 30 points in the qualifiers, their group was very weak and in the middle of it, they got kicked out of the Euro 2012 with three losses. On top of that, nobody is a fan of Louis van Gaal’s experimental 5-3-2 formation. However, this backlash can serve as a motivator, maybe pushing the team to a great run. This will only happen if these three men are focused on that goal:
The Bayern Munich star has been in top form since he joined the German side in 2009. He has become a better goal-scorer and has gotten rid of some of his individualistic mindset in order to become a better passer. Having scored 21 goals this season and winning 4 out of 6 possible trophies, the winger is at his prime and it’s probably his last world tournament. With the motivation to redeem himself from that shot deflected by Casillas in the 2010 final, Robben will be the key to upsetting the opposing teams defensive lines. With great dribbling, speed and long-range shots, he can find a way through. However, your technique means nothing if you’re not focused, and these types of tournaments require a level of concentration that is higher than usual. If Robben has a bad day, it’s likely that the Dutch will need their other stars in order to get ahead.
Robin van Persie
While far from his best club numbers, van Persie hasn’t lost his appetite for goals. The Dutch captain is prolific and doesn’t shy away from trying his luck from outside the box. He also is a great set piece taker, scoring goals and providing assists from free kicks and corner kicks. Not known for his speed, he has a good dribbling technique that can be key to getting past tough defenders like Ramos or Piqué. He will most likely not be the one to push the Oranje into a lethal counterattack, which is why he needs to be able to get some balls in the opposite side in order to be useful to the Dutch. If he’s not fed with balls, Louis van Gaal may need to alter his formation in order to make it easier for him to be in the game and be crucial.
Having lost his starring role from the Oranje since the Euro 2012 debacle, it is up to Sneijder to feed Robben and van Persie with good balls. With Rafael van der Vaart out because of injury, he will need to restore his greatest version and be a quality playmaker. He’s not very fast, but his vision is unique and has a great long-range shot accuracy. Serving as the link between the midfielders and the strikers, the number 10 will have to work hard to keep the team together, helping the left and right backs be useful. He needs to be the creative one in the team, since it’s very likely that van Gaal will put de Guzmán and de Jong behind him, and both of them are stronger defenders than they are attackers. If he can be focused and not too marked by defenders, Sneijder can be the piece that puts the Clockwork Orange in sync.
If all of these men are in form, the Dutch team can go far this year. If not, it’s up to one or two individual plays by one of them to give the Oranje some goals. In front of them are one of the world’s greatest defense and midfield lines, which is why they’re facing an uphill battle, but they have the talent and that’s enough reason not to count them out just yet.