How the Netherlands Will Line Up Against Ecuador
The preliminary squad has been announced and training camp has been set up: The final preparations for the World Cup are well and truly underway.
Ready to get going, the Netherlands are facing Ecuador in a friendly on Saturday.
In the build-up to the match, manager Louis van Gaal has made clear he's going to experiment with a 5-3-2 formation—unusual as that may be for Oranje.
With the likes of Arjen Robben, who still has the German cup final to play with Bayern Munich, and Wesley Sneijder, who still has obligations with Galatasaray, unavailable, who will be in the starting XI?
Jasper Cillessen is Louis van Gaal's No. 1 goalkeeper, and there's no reason to believe the manager has changed his mind recently.
Van Gaal is a fan of Cillessen's sweeper-keeper abilities, and for this reason he'll receive the nod ahead of Michel Vorm and Tim Krul.
After an excellent season with Ajax, Cillessen will be feeling confident—contrary to the often criticised Maarten Stekelenburg.
In any 5-3-2 or 3-5-2 formation, the wing-backs are vital. For this reason, manager Louis van Gaal will surely play Feyenoord right-back Daryl Janmaat.
Without him, Van Gaal wouldn't have dared to experiment with this new formation. Expect the quick and offensive-minded Janmaat to become one of the leading men in Van Gaal's tactical plans for the World Cup.
When Toby Alderweireld left Ajax to join Atletico Madrid in the summer of 2013, Ajax looked at their youth academy to replace the Belgian defender.
Consequently, Joel Veltman was promoted to the first team, where he had a great first season.
Veltman's impact on Ajax has not gone unnoticed by Van Gaal, who seems to be putting faith in the young ball-playing defender ahead of the World Cup.
Stefan De Vrij
Louis van Gaal drew his inspiration for his new tactical plans from Feyenoord, the Dutch side that played 5-3-2 in various matches throughout the season.
For this reason, Van Gaal will partly rely on Feyenoord's defenders, and Stefan de Vrij can expect to start.
Bruno Martins Indi
Bruno Martins Indi has received plenty of playing time under Van Gaal, and considering the new formation Van Gaal has in mind, his Feyenoord credentials won't hurt him either.
Martins Indi, who serves as a rock at the back for Feyenoord, will definitely be one of the two defenders forming the heart of the Netherlands' defence against Ecuador. It's likely he'll also get playing time during the World Cup.
With the left-back position seemingly up for grabs, young Feyenoord defender Terence Kongolo is likely to get the chance to prove himself in the Netherlands' friendly against Ecuador.
That way, the versatile Daley Blind can move to midfield, where he has played for Ajax for most of the season.
It would be Kongolo's first appearance for Oranje's senior team.
At Ajax, Daley Blind started out as a left-back. But when Ajax manager Frank de Boer ran out of options in midfield during a match last season, he decided to move Blind to the position of defensive midfielder.
It worked out amazingly well, and since then, Blind has been Ajax's first-choice defensive midfielder.
Consequently, Van Gaal has moved Blind from left-back to midfield as well. Should the situation ask for it, however, Blind can always be moved to left-back. His versatility is a major plus.
Louis van Gaal seems to be a fan of Jordy Clasie, and especially after Strootman's injury, the Feyenoord player will almost certainly be a part of the Netherlands' midfield setup.
Against Ecuador, Clasie will partner Ajax's Daley Blind as one half of a defensive midfield duo. As both Clasie and Blind are intelligent players, though, both will have a license to roam from deep. As such, Clasie will contribute to a versatile midfield.
One of the major advantages of Louis van Gaal's newly devised 5-3-2 formation is that it allows for Wesley Sneijder—who has often been criticised by Van Gaal for not being industrious enough—to play as a true No. 10. As such, it's likely Sneijder will see his status restored in Oranje—should the new system work out as is hoped.
At the moment, however, Sneijder hasn't joined the Dutch squad yet, as he still has some obligations at his club Galatasaray.
Until his arrival, then, Georginio Wijnaldum will take Sneijder's place. The young PSV midfielder, who missed most of this season because of an injury, will get a welcome opportunity to show his worth to Van Gaal.
While PSV didn't have a great season in the Eredivisie, the emergence of some of the Netherlands' most exciting youngsters formed a silver lining for the Eindhoven-based side. Memphis Depay, who had an excellent season, is one of those youngsters.
The strong and talented attacker will be given an opportunity to show his worth to manager Louis van Gaal. At least until Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben arrives after the German cup final, Depay will partner Robin van Persie in attack.
Robin Van Persie
Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie. When they're available, they play, simple as that.
Van Persie, who is still working on a return to fitness after an injury, will probably not play for the full 90 minutes, but he'll start, as Van Gaal told the media earlier this week. As a symbol to how much the squad looks up to the Manchester United striker, he'll also be captain.