Today, with the Netherlands, we continue, in reverse alphabetical order, to provide the profiles of the 32 teams which qualified for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The Oranje are participating in their eleventh World Cup, their first was in 1934, and their last was in 2014. They have been runners-up in 1974, 1978, and 2010 (tied with Argentina and West Germany for most runner-up medals), came in third place in 2014, and in fourth place in 1998. The Netherlands have always made it out of their group and the Round of 16 has been their earliest exit.
As the country that produced Johan Cruyff the Netherlands have always been a strong national team and their participation is always anticipated by all since their quality of play is exciting and their orange-clad fans add a loud and colorful touch to the proceedings.
Placed in Group A with hosts Qatar, Senegal, and Ecuador, the Dutch believe they are well-placed to advance at the top of their group, and if they come with the right mindset and form, they should do so. A Round of 16 match will most likely pit them against the USA or Wales and either of those teams, having made it out of their group with England, will be a formidable opponent. At that stage, all bets are off.
The Netherlands (UEFA)
The Netherlands (literally meaning lower countries), also known as Holland, has been inhabited continuously for over 250,000 years. The Dutch (those who speak Dutch) with a population of 17.7M, live in a 16,100 square mile country which is 26% of its land below sea level and only 50% over a yard above. The nation today is a unitary parliamentary constitutional monarchy with a DDP or $1.2T, an HDI of 0.941 (very high), 76% Dutch ethnically, speak Dutch, 54% professing no religion, and 38% being Christian.
Holland is globally known for its social tolerance, its value of egalitarian behavior, its art, architecture, tulips, and philosophy, for reclaiming much of its land from the sea, and for its influence during the Dutch Golden Age (1588-1672) when the Dutch East and West India Companies established colonies and trading posts all over the world. The Dutch gave the world Erasmus and Spinoza, Christiaan Huygens, Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, Rembrandt van Rijn, Johannes Vermeer, Vincent van Gogh, and Ann Frank, aside from well-known music, film and TV.
Squad (which may change before the cup given injuries, form, and coaching choices—teams mentioned are subject to change given transfers): Goalkeepers— Tim Krul (Norwich), Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Mark Flekken (Freiburg), and Kjell Scherpen (Brighton); Defenders—Hans Hateboer (Atalanta), Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Stefan de Vrij (Inter), Denzel Dumfries (Inter), Tyrell Malacia (Feyenoord), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Jordan Teze (PSV), and Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord); Midfielders—Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Guus Til (Spartak Moscow), and Jerdy Schouten (Bologna); Strikers—Steven Bergwijn (Tottenham), Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Noa Lang (Club Brugge), Wout Weghorst (Burnley), Cody Gakpo (PSV), and Vincent Janssen (Royal Antwerp).
Path to Qatar
The Netherlands advanced directly to Qatar from UEFA Group G, which included Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, and Gibraltar. Their progression, though, was as uneven as their form has been these past few years. They began with a 2-4 away loss to Turkey in March of 2021 only to come back to beat the Turks 6-1 in Amsterdam in September. But then they followed with a 2-2 draw to Montenegro in November and needed a last-game win over Norway (2-0) to clinch their berth.
Veteran coach Louis van Gaal has the Dutch playing in an ultra-defensive 5-3-2 formation without a world-class keeper but with the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt accompanying Stefan de Vrij, Daley Blindk and Denzel Dumfries in defense. Van Gaal can count on Frenkie de Jong to be his playmaker and Memphis Depay and perhaps Steven Bergwijn up front. But the task remains, who will the Dutch be come opening game at Qatar?
The list right above is not exhaustive as PSV and especially Ajax keep minting new stars but with Depay on offense, van Dijk and de Ligt in defense, de Jong in midfield alongside Steven Berghuis (second only to Depay in scoring), the team has a good foundation, one that should outclass most opposition until the big boys enter the arena.
Group and Tourney Prospects
Though the Dutch fancy their chances in Group A, Qatar as hosts might be a bit more of a challenge than usual; Ecuador had an impressive run in South American qualifiers, outclassing the likes of Chile, Colombia, and Peru, and are in good form; and Senegal have probably been playing the best futbol of their collective lives these past two years. So, it will come down to the Netherlands team that comes on the field—mentally. If they are ready, they should be the group favorites, if they are not, they could be in for as rude a reception as they gave Spain in 2014.
Photo: Frenkie de Jong – Shutterstock ID: 1834764670, by: ph.FAB