If at all there are perennial underacheivers in the world of football, look no further than the Dutch. Despite having one of the best squads in the world, the Netherlands seem to get it all wrong in the international stage.
They are the only ‘big’ side yet to win a world cup, but have made it to the finals on three occasions. 2010 saw the Dutch rise to the task as they put up an impressive show to land a spot in the finals. An injury time goal from Andres Iniesta, however, sank the Dutch hearts as Spain went on to clinch the trophy.
If that looked like a promising start to the Netherlands in the international scene, their performance in the Euro 2012 proved otherwise. The Oranje failed to pick up a single point and were eliminated in the very first round. It is this sort of inconsistency that makes them an unpredictable side.
Here’s a look at the Dutch lineup:
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle), Michel Vorm (Swansea)
Defenders: Daley Blind, Joel Veltman (both Ajax), Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat, Terence Kongolo, Bruno Martins Indi (all Feyenoord), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa).
Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Leroy Fer (Norwich), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven).
Forwards: Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jermain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United).
They have a relatively young side with some experienced campaigners like Robben, Sneijder and Van Persie in their ranks. They will surely be defensively tested as most of their defense has plied its trade only in the home country with little European experience. Robben, who has been their key player over the years is known to misfire far too often and this is something the Dutch can’t afford.
They are placed in Group B along with Spain, Chile and Australia. Van Gaal’s side will be fancied along with Spain to walk out of the group unscathed. However, if they put up a similar performance like they did in the Euro’s, their ‘underachievers’ tag will be a hard one to shrug off.
Stars to watch out for: Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder, De Jong