World Cup 2022: All you need to know about the Netherlands
Since exiting Euro 2020 at the hands of the Czech Republic, the Netherlands have been on the up — and they will head to Qatar quietly confident of landing a first world crown.
Wily boss Louis van Gaal is back at the helm for a third stint in charge of his country and can call on genuine star quality from the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay.
Expected to progress from Group A without too much fuss, the Oranje look certain to be a tough nut to crack this winter.
Netherlands' group stage fixtures and UK kick-off times
Senegal vs Netherlands (Monday, November 21, 4pm)
Netherlands vs Ecuador (Friday, November 25, 4pm)
Netherlands vs Qatar (Tuesday, November 29, 3pm)
How the Netherlands qualified for Qatar 2022
The Dutch were made to sweat for their spot at the 2022 World Cup, only sealing first place in Group G on the final matchday when seeing off Norway 2-0 in Rotterdam.
They finished two points clear of runners-up Turkey, bouncing back impressively after dropping five points in their opening four clashes of the campaign.
The goals of Barcelona forward Depay were key to their success, with the 28-year-old netting an impressive 12 times — the joint-highest tally in European qualifying alongside England’s Harry Kane.
How the Netherlands could line up
Van Gaal has shown a preference for a 3-5-2 formation in recent times, moving away from the back four that has served him well throughout the bulk of his coaching career.
Ajax’s 39-year-old stopper Remko Pasveer looks set to be between the sticks, with Van Dijk likely to be joined by Jurrien Timber and Stefan de Vrij in a back three.
Denzel Dumfries and Daley Blind will offer a blend of youth and experience at wing-back, while the midfield trio will feature Barca starlet De Jong, possibly alongside Martin de Roon with Steven Berghuis of Ajax likely operating in a No10 role.
Chief goal threat Depay leads the line with the exciting Cody Gakpo set to partner him in a tantalising two-man attack.
Predicted XI: Pasveer; Van Dijk, Timber, De Vrij; Dumfries, De Jong, De Roon, Berghuis, Blind; Depay, Gakpo
Star man: Virgil van Dijk
While this Netherlands squad possesses plenty of exciting young talent, the commanding presence of Liverpool defender Van Dijk will undoubtedly be key to any success they enjoy in the Middle East.
Remarkably, this will be the Oranje skipper’s first taste of major tournament football — with his country having failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, before an ACL rupture saw Van Dijk cruelly miss Euro 2020.
At 31, this may prove the only opportunity for the colossus to strut his stuff on football’s grandest stage and a record of eight wins, three draws, no defeats and five clean sheets since he returned from injury makes for fearsome reading.
One to watch: Cody Gakpo
PSV Eindhoven winger Cody Gakpo was one of the buzz names of the summer transfer window with a raft of top European clubs linked with a move for the 23-year-old.
However, a switch did not materialise and having already racked up 12 goals and 14 assists across 19 Eredivisie and Europa League games this term, Qatar brings another chance for Gakpo to showcase his talents.
Likely to be deployed in a central role for his nation, Gakpo’s ability to beat a man and make telling contributions in the final third could well see him emerge as one of the tournament’s shining lights.
The boss: Louis van Gaal
One of football’s most entertaining characters, nobody would begrudge 71-year-old Van Gaal from bringing the curtain down on a glittering managerial career with a World Cup win.
The ex-Manchester United boss, who has lifted silverware in four different countries domestically, was coaxed out of retirement for a third spell leading his country in August 2021 but will be replaced by Ronald Koeman after the tournament’s conclusion.
Having only recently overcome a battle with prostate cancer, it would be one of the all-time feel-good stories if he could steer his promising squad to glory on December 18.
Netherlands' official 26-man World Cup squad
Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Andries Noppert (Heerenveen), Remko Pasveer (Ajax)
Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter Milan)
Midfielders: Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Xavi Simons (PSV Eindhoven), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax)
Forwards: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven), Vincent Janssen (Antwerp), Luuk de Jong (PSV Eindhoven), Noah Lang (Club Brugge), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas)
All information correct as of November 14, 2022