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The Downfall of Dutch football

Varis Sharma
ANALYST
Feature
3.21K   //    15 Jun 2018, 11:07 IST

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Netherlands started their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign by demolishing the Spanish team by a scoreline of 5-1 and avenged the loss suffered 4 years back at Soccer city in the 2010 World Cup final. Holland went on to win their group after beating Australia and Chile in the next two fixtures. The Dutch went on to beat Mexico and Costa Rica in the Round of 16 and Quarter Finals respectively. After getting knocked out by Messi's Argentina in the Semi-final, they finished their World Cup campaign on a high after beating hosts Brazil in the Third place play-off.

The Netherlands are often considered as the best team to have never won the World Cup and it is the inconsistency of this team that led to its downfall post the 2014 grand event.


Failing to qualify for Euro 2016 and FIFA World Cup 2018

Enter
Former Netherlands captain after failing to qualify for 2018 FIFA World Cup

After finishing third at the 2014 World Cup, it was all downhill for the Oranje . They started their UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying campaign with a loss against Czech Republic. After a series of disappointing results against teams like Iceland, Turkey and Czech Republic, Holland failed to qualify for the European Championship for the first time since 1984. It came as a huge shock as a team that finished third at the World Cup in 2014 failed to qualify for the expanded 24 team European Championship.

Missing the UEFA Euro 2016 began the decline of Dutch football as their qualifying campaign for the 2018 FIFA World Cup was equally abysmal and after a round of 10 qualifying matches they ended up at 3rd place in their group behind France and Sweden.

The Dutch have always been considered underachievers at major tournaments as they are the only team in the world to have played most number of FIFA World Cup finals (3) without winning it even once. However their recent downswing in form is a cause of concern as after the exit of big players like Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, there are no potential successors to bring the Oranje back on track. Robin Van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who are currently the most experienced players in the squad haven't been called up for national duty since October 2017 and it would be safe to say that their international careers are at their last legs. The rest of the squad is relatively inexperienced as the Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk who has only 19 appearances for his national side was made captain by newly appointed manager Ronald Koeman in March 2018.


The future and reconstruction of Total Football


Enter
Netherlands Head Coach Ronald Koeman

From here the Dutch have to forget about recent results and need to focus on building a strong squad for the future. Holland need to bring in fresh talent and inculcate the total football ideology into them from an early age. The current squad consists of players such as Memphis Depay, Daley Blind, Georginio Wijnaldum and Van Dijk who are individually great players but aren't able to put up a team performance together.

Later this year the inaugural season of UEFA Nations League will take place that'll be played on the pattern of domestic football leagues with promotion and relegation of teams. Netherlands are grouped with Germany and France in League A and it will be a great test for the Dutch to avoid relegation in this group of death.

It is high time that Cruyff's disciple Koeman reinstates effective total football as currently it is becoming a hindrance for the Dutch. Total football requires extensive technical skills and players with well defined roles in the team for it to work out.

There has been a slight improvement in the team's performance after Koeman took over as the Dutch beat European champions Portugal 3-0 in March and recently played a 1-1 draw against Italy away from home.

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Varis Sharma
ANALYST
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