Netherlands has unfinished business to attend to at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.
After making it all the way to the finals in 2010, the Dutch saw their trophy hopes dashed by Spain. The country has now been to the tournament's final match three different times yet has no hardware to show for it.
This year the squad is ranked eighth in the world by FIFA and breezed through their UEFA qualifying group table. Only Estonia managed to take points from the Netherlands in 10 qualifying matches, as Louis van Gaal's side recorded 28 points and first place in Group D.
As a result, they will be one of the top eight seeds in Brazil next summer, as this tweet from Sky Sports News confirms:
Top eight seeds for 2014 World Cup: Brazil, Spain, Germany, Argentina, Colombia, Belgium, Switzerland, Uruguay/ Netherlands #SSN— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) October 17, 2013
Bayern Munich legend Arjen Robben and Manchester United star striker Robin van Persie are the biggest stars on a roster that will look for contributions from unproven talent, but in terms of headliners, those Dutchmen are two of the best in the world.
Not only is van Persie a star in the Premier League, but he's also surpassed Patrick Kluivert on the list for most goals scored in Netherlands history. This tweet from FIFA.com took a deeper look into the accomplishment:
While Holland doesn't have the star power of a side like Argentina, Germany or Spain, it has a good mixture of veteran and young talent poised to return to form by the time next summer's tournament begins.
We'll track the latest storylines for Dutch players with a chance to make van Gaal's final roster in the slides to follow and also keep you posted on 23-man squad projections and potential starting lineups.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has 60 caps for his country, but his plane ticket to Brazil is in serious jeopardy.
The Schalke 04 man would bring necessary depth and a change of pace at striker on the roster, but according to a report from Sky Sports the 30-year-old isn't expected to see the pitch again until the calendar flips to 2014.
He injured his knee yet again in a training session last week and will now certainly miss the entirety of Schalke's Champions League group stage matches.
The news comes as a serious blow to his World Cup chances; van Gaal is known for choosing his squad based on how players are performing—or if they're seeing the field at all—at the club level. Huntelaar can't impress if he's not on the field.
Stay tuned to see if he can regain form in time for van Gaal's final selections.
Elsewhere, it appears the Netherlands manager is keeping close tabs on all of his options on the back line.
According to a post from Michael Bell of football-oranje.com, van Gaal was expected to be in attendance for Tuesday's Champions League clash between Ajax Amsterdam and Celtic. Celtic defender Virgil van Dijk is the player the manager will be keeping an eye on.
Netherlands is an experienced squad for the most part, but defence is one area of the roster where it's too early to tell what van Gaal will do. With more strong showings, van Dijk might work his way into consideration for one of the final 23 roster spots.
While the big names are guaranteed to shine for the Netherlands at the 2014 World Cup, decisions are there when it comes to selecting defensemen and adding depth to the roster.
Here's a look at a few projections for Holland's 23-man squad for Brazil and a potential starting lineup van Gaal might use:
Projected Starting XI
GK (1): Michel Vorm
D (4): Bruno Martins Indi, Daryl Janmaat, Ron Vlaar, Gregory van der Wiel
M (3): Kevin Strootman, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart
F (3): Robin Van Persie, Dirk Kuyt, Arjen Robben
GK (2): Tim Krul, Jasper Cillessen
D (4): Daley Blind, Jetro Willems, Stefan de Vrij, Jeffery Bruma
M (4): Nigel de Jong, Stijn Schaars, Jordy Clasie, Jonathan de Guzman
F (2): Jeremain Lens, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
GK: Maarten Stekelenburg, Kenneth Vermeer, Jeroen Zoet
D: John Heitinga, Erik Pieters, Khalid Boulahrouz, Virgil van Dijk, Ricardo van Rhijn
F: Ricky van Wolfswinkel, Eljero Elia, Ola John, Memphis Depay