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Number of World Cup appearances: 8
Best World Cup finish: Runners-up (1974, 1978)
The Dutch are the best football nation never to win the World Cup. 2010’s version of the Oranje could be their best team capable of breaking through, but that is their gift and curse. Always being considered a top contender helps promote confidence, but the building pressure from an entire nation for their football team to finally break through is omnipresent and travels with them everywhere they go.
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Again they enter an international tournament as one of the perennial favorites, but there is never a shortage of drama dragging at Holland’s feet. So much so you would think they would be better suited for an episode of “General Hospital” rather than battling it out on football’s largest stage. Talent is never an issue, but chemistry is. The biggest knock is that the players, who are as talented as any in the world, have never been reined in with the necessary continuity that a unit needs to soar on the big stage. Midfielder Wesley Sneijder is the team’s best player and he is immensely gifted. However, he is just as notorious for the turmoil he helps creates with his on-the-field arrogance and being halfway cancerous to the team as he is for his skill. He and star striker Robin van Persie, arguably the Dutch’s second best player, flat out don’t get along and that can be traced back to several incidents that seemingly have left their relationship permanently flawed.
The locker room tension is, if nothing else, an ever-growing storyline bound for South Africa, thus making the biggest question surrounding the Netherlands an internal battle for the supremacy of its summer. Which will win out in June:hordes of talent with the desire to finally achieve greatness or a group of underachievers with poisonous instability and a long list of failed results?
2010 Netherlands World Cup Odds
The Netherlands is currently listed at 12/1 futures odds to win the World Cup.
They are 8/13 favorites to win Group E.
Key Player To Watch
Holland’s classic 4-3-3 formation has always relied on a target man up front, as the Dutch control ball possession as well as anyone in the world and really dictate tempo. Robin van Persie is a classy finisher and fits the mold, possibly by default, but the Arsenal striker has been out injured for quite some time with damaged ankle ligaments. His availability for the World Cup isn’t as much an issue as doubters believing he isn’t as great a fit as his production suggests.
Best Team Asset
What the Dutch do so effortlessly and impressively is their dominance of the ball. Midfielders Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart really stand out, while winger Arjen Robben has as much pace and energy as anyone in the world on the flank with his runs up and down the pitch. Along with van Persie, Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt always finds himself in the best of positions on the field, and one of the more stable and reliable players you will watch in South Africa. They just wear opponents thin and force teams to constantly be on their toes. If you don’t have the ball, how do you beat this team?
Key Team Weakness
Well, one area where Holland can be exposed is their back four and goalkeeper. Holland’s defense has fallen off considerably in quality over the last decade. Central defenders Joris Mathijsen and Johnny Heitinga are serviceable, but hardly something to write home about, especially considering the imbalance of skill leaning towards the offensive end. Now adding to the problem is relying on someone other than ace goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. He was flat-out brilliant in the net and one of the best in a long time. However, his international retirement after Euro 2008 means the Netherlands must pin their hopes on Maarten Stekelenburg, the 27-year-old Ajax man, who, to his credit, was impressive during his qualifying run (only two goals allowed in six matches).
Netherlands World Cup Predictions
The Dutch could do extremely well and be among the final eight or even four left standing, but the question remains is can they finally raise the trophy? Holland looked absolutely unstoppable during Euro 2008 but ran into a hot Russia team that cut their run short. The Dutch are one the select few nations that would be a wise investment to win the tournament. A tricky group awaits the favorites in Group E, getting upstart Denmark, Japan and continental homeboys Cameroon. When the dust settles the chalk holds up and Holland advances to the elimination round and will be playing well beyond the Round of 16.
Key First Round Match (best betting opportunity)
There is no value bet for Holland to win the group (8/13 favorites), but attack their individual lines in group play. If the Dutch crash out of the tournament it will be against another world power in an elimination match, not group play. Don’t be surprised to see a 3-0 perfect record against the other trio. Backing them in their opener June 14 v. Denmark would be a good start.
Netherlands World Cup Group Play Schedule
v. Denmark, June 14, 2010 – 7:30 a.m. ET at Soccer City (Johannesburg)
v. Japan, June 19, 2010 – 10 a.m. ET at Durban (Durban)
v. Cameroon, June 24, 2010 – 2:30 p.m. ET at Green Point (Cape Town)
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