5 Things the Netherlands Must Do to Ensure a Successful World Cup in Brazil
If things had gone differently during the final of the World Cup in 2010, the Netherlands would have gone to Brazil this summer as reigning world champions.
Despite giving it everything, however, the Netherlands didn’t manage to get a goal in the final and eventually Iniesta scored the winning goal for Spain in extra time.
But even that hard fought second place meant that hopes were high for Euro 2012. Surely, Bert van Marwijk’s men would be able to put on a performance. They were second best in the world, after all.
Things didn’t work out that way. The Netherlands lost all three of their group matches and were subsequently sent home ingloriously.
Van Marwijk was blamed by many, and unsurprisingly, the Holland boss was soon replaced by managerial heavyweight Louis van Gaal.
It’s obvious Van Gaal has a rather different football philosophy than Van Marwijk. But what must the Netherlands do to ensure they’re successful during the World Cup in Brazil this summer?
Make Sure Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie Are Confident and Fit
Even the best teams in the world are sometimes dependent on a handful of their best players. In this regard, the Netherlands are no different.
However, because of Kevin Strootman’s injury and Wesley Sneijder’s apparent absence —the midfielder has seemingly fallen out of favour with Louis van Gaal— it looks like the Dutch might be especially dependent on moments of magic produced by Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie.
To ensure a successful World Cup, then, Van Gaal must do everything he can do to keep Robben and Van Persie fit, happy and confident. He simply can’t do without them.
Find a Suitable Replacement for Kevin Strootman
Louis van Gaal likes to talk about his Big Three a lot: His three players—Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Kevin Strootman—who are capable of asserting their influence during big matches.
But with Strootman’s devastating injury—the midfielder is definitively out of the World Cup—Van Gaal must come up with another midfielder he can depend on.
Van Gaal’s options include Norwich’s Leroy Fer and Feyenoord’s Jordy Clasie. Although good players, they hardly compare to Strootman—who had an impressive season in Serie A before his injury.
Reinstate Wesley Sneijder
Van Gaal might consider the possibility to pair Strootman’s replacement with the seemingly out of favour Wesley Sneijder.
The inclusion of Sneijder would mean a midfield setup functioning differently from the setup used in the qualifiers, but it could prove to be just what the Netherlands need at the moment.
Surely, the inclusion of Sneijder would not only add some creativity to the midfield, it could also add to the confidence of the squad. When all is said and done, Sneijder is still considered to be a big player, not just by the Dutch players but by the opposition as well.
Let the Players Know There’s No Pressure
One of the problems the Dutch squad had during Euro 2012 was the pressure they were under. After almost winning the World Cup in 2010, the fans wanted Bert van Marwijk and his players to bring home the cup.
Robin van Persie especially did not seem to cope well with this pressure. Even after a great season at Arsenal, the striker only managed to score one goal. All of this went on while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who seemed in great form, was desperate to replace him.
This time around, then, Louis van Gaal would be wise to let his players know there’s no pressure. All in all, the Netherlands are not one of the absolute favourites to win.
Make Sure There’s Harmony in the Squad
Oftentimes, successful World Cup campaigns are dependent on squad harmony. Spain’s success, for example, wouldn’t have been possible without cooperation and friendliness between Barcelona’s and Real Madrid’s often divided contingents.
During Euro 2012, the Dutch players could often be seen bickering and arguing on the pitch. Rumours were abound that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie had a serious row in the players’ hotel.
Van Gaal would be wise to prevent this sort of thing from happening by spotting and solving such disputes beforehand. Only if the players can count on each other, will the Netherlands be successful.
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