|15||FIFA Ranking position|
How they qualified
The Netherlands positively cruised into the finals of Brazil 2014, coming through as Europe’s the joint-top point scorers – alongside Germany – on 28, with their 2-2 draw against Estonia the only minor blemish on a near-faultless campaign. At times they were absolutely purring, in no game more so than their 8-1 defeat of Hungary, while Germany were the only side on the continent to score more goals than their 34.
They registered comfortable wins over their three main Group D rivals – Turkey, Hungary and Romania – in their opening four games to see them shoot clear of the competition, with only a spectacular collapse looking able to deny them an automatic spot. That never came and a, somewhat nervy, 2-0 win over Andorra saw them, alongside Italy, become the first Europeans to seal their place in Brazil. They finished nine points ahead of Romania, a gap only matched by neighbours Belgium.
FIFA World Cup finals history
With legendary coach Rinus Michels pulling the strings from the bench, Johan Cruyff, Johan Neeskens and Co won their way through to the Final in 1974, only to lose out to the hosts. Four years on, their revolutionary Total Football again took them to the showpiece, but history repeated itself as they suffered another defeat to the host nation, succumbing 3-1 in Buenos Aires. The Oranje then experienced Final heartbreak for a third time in Johannesburg, coming within four minutes of taking Spain to penalties before Andres Iniesta crushed their dreams.
The key players
Robin van Persie’s blossoming into one of the finest strikers in the world has been a huge boon to the Dutch, with the Manchester United marksman topping the goal-scoring charts with 11 goals. He was able assisted in that department though by the likes of Jermaine Lens – who has progressed into a key part of the Oranje outfit – and Rafael van der Vaart. Arjen Robben continues to be a menace on the wing, while formerly promising youngsters such as Kevin Strootman and Daryl Janmaat are now key components of the side.
Coach: Louis Van Gaal
Best performances in a FIFA competition: FIFA World Cup Germany 1974, Argentina 1978, South Africa 2010 (Runners-up), FIFA Futsal World Cup Netherlands 1989 (Runners-up), Men’s Olympic Football Tournament London 1908, Stockholm 1912, Antwerp 1920 (Third place), FIFA U-17 World Cup Peru 2005 (Third place)
Former stars: Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp.
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