Grading Every Dutch Player at the 2014 World Cup
After Sunday's final, the World Cup in Brazil has finally reached its conclusion.
Having finished third after beating Brazil 3-0 in Saturday's third-place playoff match, the Netherlands can look back at the tournament with satisfaction.
But it wasn't just a good team effort. Individually, a lot of the Netherlands' players shined as well. Here, we grade all the Dutch players who have made a significant appearance.
Because they didn't play long enough to truly impact the games they played in, Michel Vorm, Terence Kongolo and Joel Veltman will not be graded.
Jasper Cillessen had an excellent tournament, making crucial saves against powerful nations like Spain, Mexico and Argentina.
One thing will tarnish his reputation, though. During the penalty shootout against Argentina in the semi-final, he failed to save a single penalty.
It's difficult to blame a goalkeeper for losing a penalty shootout, but arguably, Cillessen should have saved at least one.
Daryl Janmaat was in manager Louis van Gaal's first XI during the Netherlands' opening match against Spain, but was later replaced by Paul Verhaegh and Dirk Kuyt.
After spending some time on the bench, he returned to the team during the second half of the semi-final match against Argentina. He also played in the third-place playoff against Brazil.
Ahead of the tournament, expectations were high for Janmaat, but he hasn't quite delivered. With the Oranje playing in a 5-3-2 formation, the wing-back should have brought more.
Stefan de Vrij
For young, talented footballers, the World Cup is a great occasion to showcase their skills to the watchful eye of the world.
This World Cup, Stefan de Vrij made excellent use of that opportunity. Forming a golden duo with Ron Vlaar, De Vrij was arguably one of the best defenders of the tournament.
Having impressed followers of the Oranje, De Vrij could now be poised for a move to a bigger competition this summer.
Ahead of the tournament, not much was expected of the Netherlands' defence. Faced with attackers like Spain's Diego Costa and Chile's Alexis Sanchez, it was expected the likes of Ron Vlaar would not be good enough.
How wrong those assumptions turned out to be. Ron Vlaar had an excellent World Cup. Forming a brick wall in the centre of the Dutch defence, he effectively kept opponents like Lionel Messi out of the game.
Bruno Martins Indi
Another young player to catch the eye of world football was Bruno Martins Indi.
As the outer-left centre-back in Holland's unusual five-man back line, Martins Indi had an overall solid World Cup, although he never quite reached the levels of De Vrij and Vlaar.
One of the Netherlands' best players of the tournament was Daley Blind.
Not only did the young Ajax man deliver a stunning assist for Robin van Persie's wonder goal against Spain, he also displayed his versatility by switching between the positions of left-back, centre-back and defensive midfielder.
Granted, it wasn't always aesthetically pleasing, and as a left-wing-back, the right-footed Dirk Kuyt wasn't always very effective. But as a utility man, Kuyt's work rate and versatility were absolutely vital for the Oranje.
Having played as a right-back, a left-back and as a striker, Kuyt was constantly doing exactly what his manager wanted him to do. For that, he deserves praise.
In Van Gaal's 5-3-2 formation, Georginio Wijnaldum was often asked to play as the second holding midfielder, beside tough tackler Nigel de Jong.
From this position, Wijnaldum was not able to greatly influence matches. But perhaps this was not a surprise: For PSV, Wijnaldum normally plays in a much more advanced position.
Nigel de Jong
As the Netherlands' main holding midfielder, Nigel de Jong was a key man in Van Gaal's 5-3-2 formation.
Constantly harassing his opponents and winning the ball back, De Jong made huge contributions to the matches he played in.
After suffering an injury early in the match against Mexico, he was greatly missed in the subsequent matches.
Having made a miraculous recovery, though, De Jong managed to keep Argentina's Lionel Messi contained during the semi-final.
All in all, De Jong had an excellent tournament.
One advantage of Van Gaal's 5-3-2 formation was that it perfectly accommodated the Netherlands' star players Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder.
On paper, at least. In practice, Sneijder wasn't always as influential as he had been during the World Cup in 2010, when he seemed like one of the best players in the world.
Still, he managed to redeem himself by scoring the all-important equaliser against Mexico during the round of 16.
Constantly running his opponents ragged, Arjen Robben was the Netherlands' main attacking force throughout the World Cup.
Robben's most memorable moment was probably his second goal against Spain, when he raced past Sergio Ramos' with brutal speed.
His least memorable performance was probably against Argentina, during the semi-final, when he failed to score a goal.
Nonetheless, it's difficult to deny that Robben was one of the best players in the tournament.
Robin van Persie
It's difficult to draw conclusions from Robin van Persie's World Cup campaign.
On the one hand, he scored goals against Spain, Australia and Brazil. On the other hand, he failed to exert influence in other important matches, and throughout the tournament he didn't provide many link-up options for his attacking partners, Robben and Sneijder.
Ultimately, though, Van Persie's performance must be judged with his injury-ridden season at Manchester United in mind. In that regard, the striker has done quite well in Brazil.
During the Netherlands' quarter-final match against Costa Rica, Tim Krul single-handedly redefined the definition of the word "super sub."
With only seconds to play, he came on for first-choice goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, right before the start of the penalty shootout.
Thinking they were facing a true penalty killer, the Costa Ricans were in awe.
And rightly so, it turned out. Krul stopped two of Costa Rica's penalties and saw his team advance to the semi-final.
How often does a reserve keeper have as big of an impact as Krul had this World Cup?
In the Netherlands' round-of-16 match against Mexico, Paul Verhaegh replaced Daryl Janmaat in Van Gaal's starting XI.
The right wing-back made a defensive error or two, but most importantly, he failed to provide an attacking impetus.
Jonathan de Guzman
During the Netherlands' preparatory campaign, Van Gaal often picked Jonathan de Guzman to play alongside Nigel de Jong in defensive midfield. The midfielder also started in his team's group-stage matches against Spain and Australia.
Thus, it was a surprise to see De Guzman replaced by Georginio Wijnaldum in Van Gaal's starting XI ahead of the match against Chile.
De Guzman didn't get all the playing time he was hoping for at this World Cup, but he performed admirably nonetheless.
Jordy Clasie, the talented Feyenoord mifielder, did not get much playing time this World Cup.
For a while, it even looked like he wouldn't feature at all, but then he was brought on during the semi-final against Argentina. In the next match, against Brazil, he was even in the starting XI.
Despite not playing much, Clasie has made an excellent impression. Especially against Brazil, he added depth and creativity to the Oranje midfield.
Leroy Fer didn't get to play much, but he will be remembered for his headed goal, late in the match against Chile.
Memphis Depay would later score another, but at the time, Fer's effort really felt like the winning goal.
Unfortunately, he later suffered an injury and was consequently kept out of the rest of the World Cup.
Jeremain Lens featured heavily in Van Gaal's 4-3-3 formation during the Netherlands' qualifying campaign.
But after the manager's switch to 5-3-2, made shortly before the start of World Cup, Lens fell out of favour.
In Brazil, he made a couple of appearances as a substitute, but couldn't really leave his mark on games.
Like teammates Stefan de Vrij and Daley Blind, Memphis Depay made excellent use of the World Cup as a stage to showcase his talent to the world.
Against Australia, he scored the winning goal, and he bagged another one against Chile.
Constantly able to provide width and creativity up front, Depay functioned as an excellent super sub.
With Van Persie ahead of him in the hierarchy, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar didn't get much playing time. But when he came on as a substitute in the round-of-16 match against Mexico, he proved his status as a super sub.
First, he provided the assist for Sneijder's equaliser. Then, he converted the penalty that saw Oranje win 2-1.
Although he failed to score during the Netherlands' semi-final against Argentina, this alone made Huntelaar's inclusion in the squad worth it.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!