The Netherlands possesses the talent to hang around in South Africa for a while this summer.
How they got here
No team made lighter work of the road to South Africa than the Netherlands. With eight wins from eight games, Bert van Marwijk’s Oranje team was in a different class to its group rivals. After Macedonia’s Goran Pandev scored a consolation goal in his side’s 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands, the Oranje didn’t concede another goal for 460 minutes.
Over the course of the group play the Netherlands scored 17 goals, conceding just 2. Such was their dominance that the second placed team in the group, Norway, was the only group runner-up in Europe to miss out on the playoffs for the World Cup.
Who to watch
How long have I got? This team is loaded with talent, especially in midfield and up front. The English Premier League is well represented in the side with Liverpool duo Ryan Babel and Dirk Kuyt, Arsenal’s Robin van Persie, Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong, and John Heitinga of Everton. Bayern Munich’s Mark van Bommel and Arjen Robben come into this tournament on the back of great success this season while Rafael van der Vaart of Real Madrid and Inter’s Wesley Sneijder will feature prominently in midfield.
The Oranje always have a few surprises up their sleeves to complement the wealth of big-name talent. Look for Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg to step out of Edwin van der Sar’s shadow or for his team mate Gregory van der Wiel, the Ererdivisie’s young player of the year, to shine in South Africa.
How they will perform
While the Netherlands will perform well it’s best not to expect too many goals when looking at them from a World Cup betting perspective. This is a talented but intelligent team that knows how to protect a lead. Such a trait leads to good results but not a lot of goals. I expect the Oranje to rip through the rest of the group and top the group in style. With so many talented players coming into this tournament after successful seasons at club level, this will be a team overflowing with confidence and the ability to back it up. If the World Cup goes chalk, which it rarely does, this Netherlands team should make it to at least the quarter finals. With a good break here and there this team could go further and even prove to be an outside shot for the final.