The Netherlands enter the FIFA 2022 World Cup as an international enigma. They produce some of the top talent across the European club landscape but have fallen short at the international level for almost the last decade.
After a great showing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where they finished third, beating hosts Brazil 3-0 in the third-place match, it was nothing but disappointment for the Oranje.
They failed to qualify for either Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup and were knocked out in the round of 16 at Euro 2020.
Louis van Gaal, manager for their 2014 World Cup run, returned to take charge last August after the disappointment of Euro 2020 and has this talented group ready for a course correction in Qatar.
The Dutch are considered the strongest side in Group A thanks to the presence of hosts Qatar, but they will have their hands full with Senegal and Ecuador, plus the hosts’ possible support for Qatar.
Still, this is a team absolutely bursting with Europe’s top club talent and if they manage to reach the knockout stages as expected, they will prove a dangerous presence. Anything short of reaching the quarter-finals is likely to be a disappointment for the Dutch.
Netherlands World Cup squad 2022
Manager Louis van Gaal has cut down his provisional squad to 26 players ahead of the FIFA deadline with the majority of his key names on the plane to Qatar.
Barcelona duo Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong are included are despite fitness concerns over the pair this month.
|Goalkeeper||Remko Pasveer||Ajax (NED)||38||2|
|Goalkeeper||Andries Noppert||Heerenveen (NED)||28||0|
|Goalkeeper||Justin Bijlow||Feyenoord (NED)||24||6|
|Defender||Virgil van Dijk||Liverpool (ENG)||31||49|
|Defender||Nathan Ake||Manchester City (ENG)||27||29|
|Defender||Jeremie Frimpong||Bayer Leverkusen (NED)||21||0|
|Defender||Stefan de Vrij||Inter (ITA)||30||59|
|Defender||Daley Blind||Ajax (NED)||32||94|
|Defender||Matthijs de Ligt||Bayern Munich (GER)||23||38|
|Defender||Tyrell Malacia||Manchester United (ENG)||23||6|
|Defender||Jurrien Timber||Ajax (NED)||21||10|
|Defender||Denzel Dumfries||Inter (ITA)||26||37|
|Midfielder||Frenkie de Jong||Barcelona (SPA)||25||45|
|Midfielder||Davy Klaassen||Ajax (NED)||29||35|
|Midfielder||Xavi Simons||PSV Eindhoven (NED)||19||0|
|Midfielder||Steven Berghuis||Ajax (NED)||30||39|
|Midfielder||Marten de Roon||Atalanta (ITA)||31||30|
|Midfielder||Kenneth Taylor||Ajax (NED)||20||2|
|Midfielder||Teun Koopmeiners||Atalanta (ITA)||24||9|
|Forward||Memphis Depay||Barcelona (SPA)||28||81|
|Forward||Steven Bergwijn||Ajax (NED)||25||24|
|Forward||Cody Gakpo||PSV Eindhoven (NED)||23||9|
|Forward||Wout Weghorst||Besiktas (TUR)||30||15|
|Forward||Vincent Janssen||Royal Antwerp (BEL)||28||20|
|Forward||Luuk de Jong||PSV Eindhoven (NED)||32||38|
|Forward||Noa Lang||Club Brugge (BEL)||23||5|
Netherlands national team stars, strengths & weaknesses
The Netherlands will be looking to make a statement after years of international disappointment. They missed the 2018 World Cup in Russia and failed to exit the Round of 16 at Euro 2020.
Manager Van Gaal is as experienced as they come, leading the Dutch side to the top of their World Cup qualifying group, with seven wins from 10.
Van Gaal’s coaching record is superb — he led Barcelona and Manchester United at the club level, while also taking charge of the Oranje at the 2014 World Cup, where they finished third, beating hosts Brazil 3-0 in the third-place match.
The Dutch side is captained by Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, who has emerged as one of the best players in the world during his time at Anfield. However, the Orajne leader has struggled for form this season at club level, leading to questions at the back for Van Gaal with a wealth of options at his disposal.
Their main goalscoring threat is Barcelona forward Memphis Depay, who has managed to maintain his international form despite playing a bench role for the Blaugrana.
The Oranje have a wealth of young talent to choose from all over the field, with PSV winger Cody Gakpo leading the revolution. Defenders Jurrien Timber and Tyrell Malacia are other young players to watch.
Defensively, the Dutch are extremely deep. Van Dijk may not be in form but he remains a top player, while Stefan de Vrij, Matthijs de Ligt, Jurrien Timber, and Daley Blind are all playing at a high level for their big European clubs.
Van Gaal will look to use this strength by deploying a three-CB system and get as many of his best defenders on the field as he can.
The biggest missing component of the Dutch side is experience. For all his success for club and country, Van Dijk has not played in a major international tournament. He missed Euro 2020 with an ACL tear, and the Netherlands did not qualify for both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.
Behind Van Dijk, former experienced leaders Giorginio Wijnaldum and Bruno Martins Indi have not made the squad, leaving just Frenkie de Jong and Daley Blind as the other ever-present members.
Positionally, the biggest weakness for the Netherlands is without a doubt at goalkeeper. Tim Krul has been cast out by Van Gaal after failing to turn up for penalty training session in September, and previous starter Jasper Cillessen lost his place to 38-year-old Ajax shot-stopper Remko Pasveer. There’s a lot of uncertainty between the sticks for the Dutch.
Netherlands World Cup group
The Oranje were drawn into Group A of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Only the top two teams in each group will advance.
The Netherlands are the highest-ranked team in Group A, thanks to the presence of hosts Qatar as the Pot 1 side.
The Dutch will open the tournament against Sadio Mane and Senegal before taking on Ecuador and Qatar, needing to watch out for the host boost which has proven a real danger over the years.
World Cup Group A fixtures and match schedule
|Sun, Nov. 20||Qatar vs. Ecuador||11 a.m.||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Mon, Nov. 21||Senegal vs. Netherlands||11 a.m.||Al Thumama Stadium|
|Fri, Nov. 25||Qatar vs. Senegal||8 a.m.||Al Thumama Stadium|
|Fri, Nov. 25||Netherlands vs. Ecuador||11 a.m.||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
|Tues, Nov. 29||Netherlands vs. Qatar||10 a.m.||Al Bayt Stadium|
|Tues, Nov. 29||Ecuador vs. Senegal||10 a.m.||Khalifa Int’l Stadium|
Netherlands World Cup squad, lineup
Opening the tournament against a strong Senegal side, Van Gaal will likely look get as many of his top defenders on the field as possible. It looks plausible that he’ll deploy a pair of high-flying wing-backs to flank his mainstay midfielders, and get players high up the field. They’ll be a force for Senegal to deal with.
Netherlands projected starting XI vs Senegal
Netherlands projected starting lineup (3-4-3): Cillessen (GK) — De Vrij, Van Dijk, De Ligt — Dumfries, Klaassen, De Jong, Blind — Gakpo, Depay, Bergwijn.