By Jacob Singer
Currently ranked fourth in the world, the Netherlands are the best national team to have never won the World Cup. Throughout the 70s the Oranje defined “Total Football” which was developed by their coach Rinus Michels. What is Total Football? First, imagine a team playing a 4-3-3 formation. Total Football allows the right winger to move into the right or central forwards position if the opportunity presents itself. As a result of the midfielder moving forward, one of the attackers will drop back and hold his spot in the formation. In essence, anyone can play any position. This allows for a dynamic game that creates space and allows players to make runs at goal. This philosophy is dependent on a unified team, not a single superstar, and it doesn’t work when egotistical strikers aren’t willing to track back or when a team isn’t communicating well. Arsenal and Barcelona are the two clubs that play Total Football, but neither does it as well as the Dutch team in the 70s who made it to two World Cup finals. Does this national team have the capability of using Total Football to win the 2010 World Cup?
Manager Bert van Marwijik led the squad through a relatively successful qualification campaign. Yes, they won all eight matches but against
Photo from fOTOGLIF
weak competition. While they finished top of the table, with twenty-four points, the second best team was Norway with ten. That sums up their competition. Since November they have had five international friendlies, winning four and drawing one. They dismantled Ghana and Hungary, while only squeaking out one-goal victories against Mexico and the United States.
The Netherlands should easily pass through the group stage. In order, they play Denmark (FIFA World Ranking 36th), Japan (45), and Cameroon (19th). Simply by having Japan, their weakest competition, in the middle, the Dutch squad have the ability to rest players if needed.
The squad consists of some of the world’s best player—Robben, van Persie, van Bronchhorst, Huntelaar, van der Vaart, van Bommel, and Sneijder. There are a few injury reports that might factor into the group stage. Robben suffered a small hamstring tear in the match against Hungary. His goal is to be healthy for the knockout stage. Supposedly, Babel is in a similar situation. But the squad is deep and experienced.
World Cup 2010 isn’t like previous tournaments. France and Italy are not what they used to be. Argentina lacks a back four and has a world famous coach with little managerial experience. England’s form has been slipping since their qualification. In this tournament the Oranje will cruise through the group stage will face either Italy or Paraguay in the group of sixteen. Only Spain, Germany, and Brazil pose real threats.