Monday, 23 June 2014

Written by Timothy Hock-An Balaguru, Class of 2014, Junior 2 Cempaka

The Netherlands are a side with plenty of potential and an attacking style that suits the group of players they have. Ability is one thing however, consistency is another. At the 2010 World Cup, they finished runners-up to Spain. Two years later, at the 2012 European Championships, they had a disastrous campaign which saw them finish without a single point on the board. The question is, which Netherlands side will turn up? The hapless, misfiring group of disjointed individuals or the explosive, cohesive and well-oiled team of superstars which can destroy any team in the world? 

From what we saw in their opening match against the defending champions Spain, the latter seems to have turned up in Brazil. Almost everything the Dutch attempted paid off, and some people would even say that the four-goal margin of victory could, and should have been greater. That just goes to show how dominant Louis van Gaal’s men were, leaving a huge dent in Spain’s hopes of defending the title. 

Arjen Robben, in particular, was at his fiery best as he made some of the world’s best players look like clueless children. Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique in particular, were left embarrassed, deflated and defeated, as the Netherlands ran riot. Robin van Persie also helped himself to a couple of goals, including a sumptuous header which gave Iker Casillas no chance to get near it, let alone save it. 

After such a brilliant start, the Dutch have to guard against complacency. They will definitely be looking to top their group, so that they can avoid a meeting with hosts and pre-tournament favourites Brazil (who are widely expected to win their group) in the round-of-sixteen. Van Gaal is far too experienced to let his players relax, and this will work in their favour. They can lose and still win the group, but a loss may kill their momentum and expose their weaknesses to other teams in the competition. 

Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie will be especially important to the Dutch, especially during the knockout rounds, assuming they get there. They are senior members of the team who are amongst the finest players on display at the tournament. Their experience will be invaluable in a squad that contains many inexperienced members who are playing in their first World Cup. Besides that, they also have the ability to lift the whole team with moments of brilliance, as shown in their match against Spain. The Spanish took the lead and seemed to be in control but Van Persie levelled the scores with a bullet of a header and from that point onwards, they Netherlands had full control of the game. 

From what I’ve seen so far, it would be easy for me to say that I think The Netherlands are now the favourites to win the World Cup. I am not going to do so just yet, for they have only played one match and the tournament is far from over. Van Gaal also needs to make sure that the players peak at the right time. There is no point in the Dutch winning all of their group-stage games by four or five goals if they end up losing in the knockout rounds. Have The Netherlands peaked too early or was the match against Spain just the start of something special? Only time will tell, and whatever the answer, it is sure to be a memorable one.

Key Players: Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben 

Previews of the teams from Brazil, Spain, Germany, England, Argentina, France, Belgium and the Netherlands will be published on the Lumen Studet. Next: Belgium.


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