Qatar will be playing host to the World Cup soccer 2022 for the first time in tournament history when the competition begins in fall 2022. With The Netherlands making their return to the World Cup and being placed in Group A, along with Qatar, Ecuador, and Senegal, the Netherlands will get their chance to play the host team. The Netherlands play its first game against Senegal on Nov. 21, and with the odds in their favor, they have the best chance of making it out of their group. Here are five reasons why.
Louis van Gaal Was Reappointed
Up until the 2018 World Cup, the Netherlands had a strong streak going in the tournament. The team’s most recent bout at the World Cup ended with a third-place finish, headed by manager Van Gaal. The Dutch were not expected to go far heading into the tournament, however, they made it to the semifinals under van Gaal’s leadership, where they fell to Argentina before defeating Brazil in the third-place match for bronze. Following a few disappointing years in international competition under two different managers, van Gaal is back at the head of the national team for the third time. Once winning with clubs such as Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Barcelona, and Ajax, he will look to bring those winning ways to a national scale.
The Dutch Will be Looking to Bounce Back
As previously mentioned, The Netherlands had some down years following the third-place finish in 2014. The team failed to qualify for the World Cup in 2018 under manager Dick Advocaat and Frank de Boer was released following a disappointing EUFA Euro 2020 campaign. Van Gaal was once again reappointed to get the team back to its rightful form. Van Gaal and The Netherlands qualified for the 2022 World Cup in November 2021 after defeating Norway 2-0 to top Group G for qualification. With a strong history in the World Cup odds marked by multiple runner-up finishes, the Netherlands will be looking to make a statement upon their return after missing qualification in 2018.
The Talent on Its Roster
Not only do the Dutch have an experienced coach at the helm, but the team also has a bevy of talent on its roster to take it far in the competition. With stars such as midfielder Frenkie De Jong and forward Memphis Depay and captain and defender Virgil van Dijk leading the way, The Netherlands will have a few strong players to menace opposing teams. In the front, forwards Donyell Malen and Steven Bergwijn will provide a good scoring attack, while Van Gaal will have a few goalkeepers to choose from to keep the opposition at bay. With these five in the lineup, The Netherlands will have a solid core.
The Netherlands Have the Highest Rank
With a FIFA ranking of No. 8 in the world, The Netherlands land the highest-ranking of the Group A teams. Host team Qatar ranks No. 49, Ecuador has a rank of 44 while Senegal’s most recent ranking from FIFA is No. 18. Though The Netherlands began their qualifying bid with a 4-2 loss to Turkey, the Dutch won seven of their next nine games, scoring 31 goals, to land in the top 10 ranks and qualify for the World Cup as well.
Experience in the World Cup
With the previously mentioned talent also comes experience. While The Netherlands national team has had success in years past at the World Cup, this will be Van Gaal’s third go around for a chance at gold. He comes into the tournament with a 5-2-0 record at the cup while the national team has 10 appearances at the tournament. The Netherlands will also have a number of players returning from the 2014 World Cup roster to provide veteran experience. Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, defenders Daley Blind and Stefan de Vrij, midfielder Jordy Clasie and forward Depay are all projected to make their return after playing in the 2014 cup, helping to lead a younger squad at this year’s tournament.