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SquadEdit

Goalkeepers: Jasper Cillessen (Ajax), Tim Krul (Newcastle), Michel Vorm (Swansea)

Defenders: Daley Blind (Ajax), Daryl Janmaat (Feyenoord), Terence Kongolo (Feyenoord), Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord), Joel Veltman (Ajax), Paul Verhaegh (Augsburg), Ron Vlaar (Aston Villa), Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord)

Midfielders: Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord), Leroy Fer (Norwich), Jonathan De Guzman (Swansea), Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Wesley Sneijder (Galatasaray), Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV Eindhoven)

Forwards: Memphis Depay (PSV), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04), Dirk Kuijt (Fenerbahce), Jeremain Lens (Dynamo Kiev), Robin van Persie (Manchester United), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich)

Netherlands
Edit

Team ProfileEdit

Widely regarded as the best team never to have won the FIFA World Cup, the Netherlands will need to hit the ground running in Brazil.

Defeat to Spain in the 2010 final saw the Dutch finish as runners-up in football's grandest showpiece for a third time, following previous near misses in 1974 and 1978.

Yet despite coming so close to glory in Johannesburg four years ago and easing through qualifying for the 2014 edition with the minimum of fuss, Louis van Gaal's side are not among the favourites to secure success this time around.

Reduced expectations can be largely explained by a fiendishly tricky draw that has seen the Netherlands reunited with holders Spain and also grouped alongside Chile, another country that will have designs on reaching the latter stages.

Unfancied Australia occupy the final slot in Group B, but the fate of the Netherlands is likely to be decided by the matches they play either side of facing Ange Postecoglou's men in Porto Alegre on June 18.

The Dutch will begin their campaign in Salvador five days earlier in a rematch of the 2010 final, which was eventually settled by Andres Iniesta's extra-time goal, while a meeting with Chile in Sao Paulo on June 23 could well prove crucial.

Things may not get easier if progress to the last 16 is achieved, given that Brazil potentially lie in wait, although the Netherlands did knock out this year's hosts at the quarter-final stage of the last World Cup.

It would certainly be foolish to write off a nation that came within touching distance of triumphing in South Africa, particularly with the much-decorated Van Gaal seeking to bow out on a high.

Having long since confirmed his intention to step down following the tournament, the 62-year-old Netherlands coach is sure to come under additional scrutiny after agreeing a deal to manage English giants Manchester United from next season.

Van Gaal has won domestic league titles in three countries, together with the UEFA Champions League in 1995, but will be determined to land the biggest prize of all before handing control of the national team to Guus Hiddink.

An attacking approach can be expected from the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach, who had previously stated his preference for a 4-3-3 formation, but could now adopt alternative tactics after Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman was ruled out.

Strootman tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in March, having been previously pinpointed as a key figure by Van Gaal.

Dutch captain Robin van Persie, scorer of 11 goals in qualifying, will undoubtedly spearhead the side providing he is fully fit following an injury-plagued campaign.

Speaking to FIFA TV after the Netherlands had booked their place in Brazil, Van Gaal described Van Persie - a player he is set to link up with again at Old Trafford - as "the ideal forward for the system that I want to play".

Bayern winger Arjen Robben is another key figure for a squad boasting plenty of flair, although concerns have been raised over the defensive capabilities of the Dutch.

Another run to the final appears a stiff ask, especially in conditions that will favour the South American teams, but progression from a tricky group may provide the foundation for the Netherlands to finally break their World Cup duck.



Player Profile (Robin Van Persie)Edit

Position: Forward

Date of Birth: August 6, 1983

Club: Manchester United

International Debut: v Romania (June 4, 2005)

World Cup Appearances: 11

World Cup Goals: 2

The fitness of Robin van Persie could well prove pivotal to the Netherlands' hopes of success at the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

In recent years, Van Persie has matured into one of the most feared strikers on the planet, demonstrating prolific form at both domestic and international level.

The 30-year-old was the leading scorer in the Premier League for two successive seasons prior to the recently concluded campaign and also became his country's record marksman in October 2013, surpassing Patrick Kluivert's tally of 40 Netherlands goals with a hat-trick against Hungary.

A player blessed with pace, creativity, a destructive left foot and rare deftness of touch, Van Persie will be looked upon to lead the Dutch as they aim to follow up their progression to the World Cup final in South Africa four years ago.

However, it remains to be seen whether the forward will be able to hit peak form in Brazil following an injury-plagued campaign similar to several he endured earlier in his career.

In his final season with Arsenal prior to a high-profile switch to Manchester United in August 2012, Van Persie looked to have put his fitness troubles behind him as he started all but one of the London club's Premier League matches and found the net on 30 occasions in the league.

Van Persie was similarly impressive during his maiden season at Old Trafford, retaining the English top-flight's Golden Boot award with a return of 26 league goals. 

Yet although Van Persie's goals-to-game ratio was similarly impressive throughout 2013-14, a host of injuries proved disruptive as he was hampered by toe, groin, thigh and knee problems.

National coach Louis van Gaal will be hopeful his main attacking threat can avoid any further setbacks, particularly as the Netherlands have been drawn in a 'group of death' featuring Spain, their conquerors in 2010, Chile and Australia.

Should Van Persie, who will also play under Van Gaal at United as of next season, be able to stay fit, he faces the challenge of improving on a surprisingly modest World Cup finals record.

The former Feyenoord man mustered one goal in seven appearances at the 2010 showpiece and also registered just a solitary strike in Germany four years earlier.

However, there can be little doubt that Van Persie now carries a greater threat, as illustrated by his performances during the Netherlands' unbeaten UEFA qualifying campaign.

Only Uruguay superstar Luis Suarez - Van Persie's successor as the Premier League's top scorer - and the somewhat less heralded Deon McCaulay of Belize were able to equal the Dutch spearhead's tally of 11 goals on the road to Brazil.

While Van Gaal has a host of talented individuals at his disposal, including Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, a healthy Van Persie would, therefore, surely represent the Netherlands' most potent weapon.

The United striker may also take additional motivation from the fact he will be nearing his 35th birthday by the time the next World Cup takes place in Russia, meaning this year's tournament could offer a final chance for Van Persie to make a significant impact on football's grandest stage.

News SourcesEdit

De Telegraaf - http://www.telegraaf.nl/telesport/

KNVB official site - http://www.knvb.nl/

AD - http://www.ad.nl/ad/nl/1001/ad-sportwereld/index.dhtml

Volkskrant.nl - http://www.volkskrant.nl/vk/nl/2698/Sport/index.dhtml

Spits Nieuws - http://www.spitsnieuws.nl/archives/sport