This text is a part of the Guardian’s World Cup 2022 Experts’ Network, a cooperation between among the greatest media organisations from the 32 international locations who certified. theguardian.com is operating previews from two international locations every day within the run-up to the event kicking off on 20 November.

The plan

The Netherlands come into the World Cup on a little bit of a excessive having certified for the Nations League finals, to be performed on residence turf, subsequent yr. They gained their group after a 1-0 victory over Belgium courtesy of a Virgil van Dijk header and look to have settled on a 5-3-2 system that has labored moderately nicely in latest months.

The brand new system was launched in March. Properly, it’s not totally new as that was the system Louis van Gaal additionally performed with when the Oranje reached the semi-finals of the 2014 World Cup and beat hosts Brazil 3-0 within the third-place playoff.

Similar to eight years in the past the change of formation away from the quintessential Dutch 4-3-3 has provoked criticism. Van Dijk, who’s captain, stated brazenly that he didn’t just like the change to 5-3-2 however added: “The nationwide coach doesn’t [agree] and he has a really sturdy opinion about it. And you’ll see it’s not totally unjustified.”

Van Gaal himself has been an ardent supporter of the 4-3-3 philosophy that has formed the Dutch college of soccer however it’s by no means too late to study one thing new. “The longer I’ve been a coach the extra I’ve realized to like the 5-3-2 system,” the 71-year-old stated just lately. “You may assault with it and you may defend with it. You may put the opponent beneath strain in all places and, should you play it nicely, there’s much less threat of the opponent breaking by way of on the counterattack as a result of you’ve gotten three central defenders.”

Van Gaal now feels it outweighs having three attackers. “I felt that in a 4-3-3 system it was greatest to kind triangles in all places, however again then I didn’t have the flexibility to see some great benefits of that different system. Within the 5-3-2 system the steadiness within the workforce is best and it might probably be carried out with a 3-4-3 too.”

Squad-wise the Netherlands go into the World Cup in first rate form however are weak to accidents to their fundamental inventive gamers, equivalent to Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay who’ve each had muscle issues this season. Van Gaal usually prefers to pick gamers who’re totally match match however will make an exception for that pair. The squad just isn’t as deep because it might be, which can grow to be an issue if the Netherlands go far in Qatar.

The coach

Louis van Gaal has the prospect to grow to be the coach with probably the most wins for the Dutch nationwide workforce. For the time being he’s tied with Dick Advocaat on 37, though Advocaat took 4 video games extra to succeed in that quantity. Earlier this yr Van Gaal revealed that he has had an aggressive type of prostate most cancers since 2020. He defined how he had been sneaking away from the Dutch coaching camps to have radiotherapy. He additionally stated he felt nicely sufficient to take the workforce to the World Cup and that the gamers give him vitality.

Star participant

Three gamers have legitimate claims for this nomination however Virgil van Dijk edges it, partly as a result of he’s the captain but additionally due to his efficiency in opposition to Manchester Metropolis and Erling Haaland in October, when he tamed the highly effective Norwegian. The Oranje used to have world-class strikers however as of late it’s the defence that makes the distinction and Van Dijk is an exemplary captain and an inspiration. He additionally has a knack of scoring essential targets for the nationwide workforce.

Cody Gakpo tries to get away from Belgium’s Toby Alderweireld during the Amsterdam win that put the Netherlands in the Nations League finals.
Cody Gakpo tries to get away from Belgium’s Toby Alderweireld throughout the Amsterdam win that put the Netherlands within the Nations League finals. {Photograph}: John Thys/AFP/Getty Pictures

Unsung hero

For Cody Gakpo the World Cup is an opportunity to indicate the broader world what he’s able to and earn a switch to a prime European membership. There have been rumours he was about to go away PSV Eindhoven in the summertime however in the long run he stayed. The winger has all the time had the expertise however now he has added consistency to his sport and is commonly a match-winner for his membership. For the Netherlands he has three targets in 9 caps entering into to the World Cup. What is going to these figures be on the finish of the event?

Possible lineup

Netherlands probable lineup

Qatar stance

Earlier than a sport in opposition to Latvia in March final yr the gamers warmed up in shorts bearing the textual content “Soccer helps change”. The captain’s armband had the identical message on it, the gamers desirous to make a press release in opposition to Qatar’s human rights file. The squad and Van Gaal are united of their pondering, with the coach having spoken out in opposition to the World Cup being held in Qatar. “Everybody is aware of that I believe it’s ridiculous that the video games can be performed there,” he stated as soon as and has repeated that sentiment since. Final yr the Dutch authorities stated it might not ship a delegation to Qatar however a change of energy could imply just a few politicians and King Willem Alexander journey. The pondering appears to be that gasoline provides from Qatar could also be too essential to antagonise the World Cup hosts.

Nationwide anthem

Wilhelmus is likely one of the oldest nationwide anthems on the planet, written round 1570 at first of the Eighty Years’ Battle. The lyrics are written within the phrases of William of Orange and had been used within the battle in opposition to the Spanish king. It isn’t recognized who wrote the lyrics however, having fallen out of the nationwide consciousness for just a few hundred years, it was rediscovered and, in 1932, made the nationwide anthem. It turned extremely popular throughout the second world warfare. The tune consists of 15 verses and the primary letters of every of these kind the title William of Nassau. The anthem is fashionable amongst Oranje followers, though normally solely the primary verse is sung.

All-time cult hero

Johan Cruyff is the good hero of Dutch soccer. In 1974 he led the Oranje to the World Cup closing. 4 years later they repeated the trick however Cruyff had refused to journey to Argentina. It was not only a political assertion, he had been stung by the “swimming pool scandal” from the 1974 event in West Germany. A real legend, the Cruyff basis signifies that his title lives on, establishing soccer pitches in residential areas so that everybody can have the chance to play. Its work has carried on since Cruyff’s demise in 2016.

Wilber Hack writes for De Telegraaf.


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