Netherlands looking to confirm place in 2014 World Cup
The Netherlands have the opportunity to confirm their place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil over the next few days as six points in the upcoming double header against Estonia and Andorra will see them win their group.
Louis van Gaal’s team currently have a 100% record and a seven point lead over second-placed Hungary and thus need just two wins to book their place in Brazil next year. The national team coach has chosen a team with a good blend of youth and experience. Youngsters Jeroen Zoet, Bruno Martins Indi, Jetro Willems, Stefan de Vrij, Jeffrey Bruma, Kevin Strootman are all included in the team. While more experienced players like Rafael van van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Stijn Schaars are also part of the squad.
The most surprising inclusion in this team is that of striker Ricky van Wolfswinkel. The Norwich City player has made only two appearances for the Oranje so far, which were almost three years apart. A 20 minute appearance in a 1-1 draw with Ukraine in August 2010 then playing the final 45 minutes in the friendly against Indonesia in June this year makes up the entirety of the former Sporting and Utrecht man’s international career as of yet. However, his summer move and performances for the Premier League side, for whom he scored on his debut, have propelled him back into the picture for the national team.
Van Gaal has also brought former Oranje captain Sneijder back into the set up, but only as a last resort. The Galatasaray star was left out of the original 21-man squad, but was eventually called up following an injury which forced Georginio Wijnaldum to withdraw from the team. Sneijder, who had been stripped of his captaincy months ago by Van Gaal, was last included in the Netherlands squad in June this year, playing 45 minutes in each of the friendlies against China and Indonesia. He has participated in only three of the Netherlands’ six matches of 2013 – a huge decline for a man who was once the most important player for his country.
Overall, Van Gaal has chosen a very strong and talented squad. This group of players should be able to confirm their place in the upcoming World Cup this week as they meet two sides who have never defeated them. In their three matches against Estonia, they have scored 12 and conceded two. The Oranje have smashed 19 past Andorra in their five meetings with the Andorrans failing to net a single goal.
After six matches, Andorra lie bottom of the group with zero points, zero goals and an incredible 17 goals against them. Estonia, though, sit one place above them with six points and three goals, which, incidentally, have all come from their two wins over Andorra.
Van Gaal’s men, though, approach Friday’s match against Estonia having scored 20 goals and let in two across their six victories in Group D.
Van Persie, Van der Vaart, Jeremain Lens and Ruben Schaken are the Netherlands’ top goalscorers in the World Cup Qualifying stage so far, scoring 15 between them, and are all available for the matches on Friday and Tuesday. Those stars plus the likes of Dirk Kuyt, Van Wolfswinkel, Kevin Strootman, Van der Vaart, Sneijder and Jonathan de Guzman make a formidable attack. That, when combined with a strong but young defence which includes De Vrij, Martins Indi, Bruma and Willems as well as Ron Vlaar and Daryl Janmaat, makes a very talented side capable of disposing of Andorra and Estonia with relative ease.