Netherlands World Cup 2014: Team Guide for FIFA Tournament
Especially now that it's been announced that current Dutch boss Louis van Gaal will become Manchester United manager after the World Cup, all eyes seem to be set on the Dutch national team.
But it's not just Louis van Gaal who is attracting attention. The likes of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder are there as well. And let's not forget: At the last World Cup, the Netherlands finished second.
Now that preparations for the World Cup are underway, we take a closer look at Van Gaal and the Dutch squad.
Road to the Finals
After Louis van Gaal's appointment as manager of the Dutch national team in 2012, the Netherlands were off to a flying start during the World Cup's qualifiers. Winning nine out of 10 games while drawing one, the Netherlands finished top of their group, ahead of Romania, Hungary and Turkey.
Undeniable highlight of the campaign was the Netherlands' 8-1 demolition job against Hungary in October 2013.
But so far, the Netherlands' pre-tournament friendlies have not been going as well. The Dutch lost 2-0 against France in April, and drew 1-1 against Ecuador earlier this month.
Doubtlessly, Van Gaal's men will be looking to regain focus during a training camp they're setting up in Portugal next week.
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Michel Vorm (Swansea City), Jeroen Zoet (PSV).
Defenders: Patrick van Aanholt (Vitesse), Daley Blind (Ajax), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Karim Rekik (PSV), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord).
Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Jonathan De Guzman (Swansea City), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburger SV), Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV)
Attackers: Jean-Paul Boetius (Feyenoord), Memphis Depay (PSV), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dinamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Quincy Promes (FC Twente), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)
Manager Profile: Louis Van Gaal
Immediately after the World Cup, Louis van Gaal—who already has a more than formidable CV—will start what will arguably be the biggest job of his career: He'll become manager of Manchester United, the club he himself described as "the biggest club in the world."
It has always been Van Gaal's dream to manage a team in the Premier League, and finally, that dream will come true.
But that isn't Van Gaal's only dream. Before moving to Manchester United, the Dutch boss wants to manage his country during a World Cup, and after failing to qualify with Holland in 2002, he'll finally get his chance this summer.
Star Man: Robin Van Persie
In a team that looks like a solid mix between experience and raw talent, Robin van Persie is undeniably the star player.
After a disappointing season with his club, the striker will be looking to wash away the bad taste left by Manchester United's Moyes disaster, and the World Cup seems the perfect stage for a dramatic comeback.
What's more, Van Persie will undoubtedly do everything he can to convince Louis van Gaal to build his new Manchester United team around him.
One to Watch: Daryl Janmaat
During the Netherlands' latest friendly, against Ecuador, manager Louis van Gaal experimented with an unusual 5-3-2 formation.
Vital in this system was Daryl Janmaat—one of several exciting young players in the Dutch squad. The Feyenoord player, who is usually deployed as a full-back, functioned as a wing-back on the right.
Van Gaal must have held his breath when Janmaat had to leave the pitch with an injury shortly before half-time. Luckily for the Netherlands, however, it turned out Janmaat's injury was only a minor one. He should be fit in time for the World Cup.
In Brazil, Janmaat will likely be one of the Netherlands' key players.
World Cup Record
Unusually, the Netherlands are generally considered to be a big team, despite not having won a World Cup.
This unique status has everything to do with the World Cup of 1974, when the Netherlands manager Rinus Michels and his captain Johan Cruyff came up with a style of play that would become known as "Total Football." Michels and Cruyff lost in the final to West Germany, but their team was never forgotten.
In 1978, the Netherlands managed to reach the final of the World Cup again—this time without Michels and Cruyff. Unfortunately for the Dutch, the Netherlands lost to Argentina.
Twenty years later, the Dutch reached the semi-final of the World Cup in 1998, which they lost after penalties against Brazil. In 2002, the Dutch team—including the likes of Edgar Davids and Clarence Seedorf—shocked the world by failing to even qualify.
In 2010, the Dutch reached the final, which they lost in extra time against Spain.
Most caps: Edwin van der Sar (130)
All-time top-scorer: Robin van Persie (42)
Spain vs. the Netherlands
June 13, 2014 (4 p.m. local)—Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador
Australia vs. the Netherlands
June 18, 2014 (1 p.m. local)—Estadio Beira-Rio, Porto Alegre
The Netherlands vs. Chile
June 23, 2014 (1 p.m. local)—Arena de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo
All data provided by FIFA.com