An ageing old guard, and an inexperienced new guard with plenty of absentees, the Dutch need a miracle to win the World Cup.
Their coach: Aloysius Paulus Maria van Gaal. Yes that’s his full name, or as you know him now, Giggs’s/Moyes’s successor.
van Gaal will be hoping to have a successful World Cup like all the other managers, whilst solidifying his relationship with van Persie ahead of their romantic reunion at Old Trafford.
It has been rumoured that Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez have also tried reaching second base with van Gaal, but have not been able to reach him nor communicate in Dutch.
The Netherlands are between generations now, slowly coming out of a very good generation of old guards, seemingly mixed with the new generation of players a touch below the usual Dutch expectation of skill and ability.
Players that provided a layer of solidity in defence for the Netherlands in Euro 2012 are nowhere to be seen:
Boulahrouz, Bommel, Bouma, Mathijsen, Heitenga and Stekelenburg, all too old, retired or having too average a season to have been selected. Coupled with Ooijer and van Bronckhorst retiring in 2010, it might be fair to say that the Dutch need their inexperienced defence to be in top form in order to impress in Brazil.
Even from the provisional 30 man squad: Vlaar, Martins, Janmaat, Vrij, Aanholt, Veltman, Verhaegh and Kongolo and Rekik between them have less than a 100 caps, this also includes Krul, Cillessen and Vorm, goalkeepers hoping to make their debut in the World Cup and at a national tournament for Holland.
Much was expected of Strootman and van der Wiel this summer, but both they and the impeccably experienced van der Vaart miss out through injury and all three will be sorely missed by the Oranje.
The Dutch will look to the experience of Sneijder, Robben, de Jong and van Persie as well as Huntelaar. All four of them will hopefully inspire the best in the debutants around them.
After reaching the final in 2010, I doubt many Oranje fans are expecting the same fate this year, but if they get out of their group, we might see them go further than many might expect.
Robin van Persie & Arjen Robben
Player(s) to look out for:
Daley Blind, the son of Danny Blind, who has already agreed to take over as the Dutch National Coach in 2016, in the hope that his son becomes a regular by then.
Blind has improved by quite some distance for Ajax and has been comfortable in eye in several positions, especially at left back or in a defensive midfield role.
He’s a hard worker and his versatility makes him stand out, especially after Strootman was ruled out of the World Cup.
Holland’s 23 Man Squad:
Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax Amsterdam), Tim Krul (Newcastle United), Michel Vorm (Swansea City)
Defenders: Daley Blind (Ajax Amsterdam), Stefan de Vrij, Daryl Janmaat, Terence Kongolo, Bruno Martins Indi (all Feyenoord Rotterdam), Paul Verhaegh (FC Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Joel Veltman (Ajax Amsterdam)
Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord Rotterdam), Jonathan de Guzman (Swansea City), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Leroy Fer (Norwich City), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven)
Forwards: Memphis Depay (PSV Eindhoven), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuyt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United).
The Netherlands face Spain, Australia and Chile in Group B, whilst knowing that they have to adapt to the heat quickly and be on the winning side against Australia and Chile to get out of the group with any ease, but the Chilean team are very dark horses in this World Cup.
Spain will want to show confidence and start the tournament well, all whilst trying to remind the world that they will start as they left off in the last World Cup, beating the Netherlands.
By Alexander Beck