The Netherlands national team are back at the World Cup after failing to qualify for the 2018 tournament and have a familiar face at the helm. What does this mean for the team's chances at World Cup 2022? Read on to find out.
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World Cup 2022: Netherlands preview
Louis van Gaal guided his country to the semi-finals in 2014, losing on penalties to Argentina before beating hosts Brazil in the third-place match.
The intervening period has been somewhat tumultuous, with the team also missing out on qualification for Euro 2016. Despite winning all three of their group matches, they were then knocked out in the round 16 of Euro 2020.
Van Gaal replaced Frank de Boer after that tournament and his team are unbeaten in the 15 games since he was reappointed for his third spell in charge.
Read on to inform your predictions for Netherlands at World Cup 2022.
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World Cup 2022: Netherlands key stats
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Key player: Virgil van Dijk
FIFA World Ranking (at time of writing): 8th
Recent performances: World Cup 2018 – Did Not Qualify, World Cup 2014 - Third
Odds to win Group A: 1.408 (-245)*
Odds to win World Cup 2022: 13.110 (+1211)*
World Cup 2022: Netherlands schedule
All times listed are CET (Central European Time).
November 21, 17:00: Senegal vs. Netherlands
November 25, 17:00: Netherlands vs. Ecuador
November 29, 16:00: Netherlands vs. Qatar
World Cup 2022: How will Netherlands fare in Group A?
Realistically, the Netherlands team should have no issues getting through Group A.
They face their toughest opponents, Senegal, in their first match of the tournament in a game that could decide who tops the group.
They then take on Ecuador, who came through the fierce South American system to qualify ahead of Colombia and Peru, but the Netherlands team should overcome them.
The draw has also worked out for the Netherlands team in that they face hosts Qatar in their final Group A game and may feel that gives them an extra cushion, should they slip up against either of their first two opponents.
World Cup 2022: An analysis of Netherlands' squad
Netherlands have stopped producing the sheer volume of stars that they used to but they still have a quality pool of players to pick from, notably in attack and defence.
Their goalkeeper situation is unclear, with Remko Pasveer wearing the gloves in their Nations League games in September. However, he’s 39 years old, and Van Gaal may look at a younger option, with 33-year-old Jasper Cillessen a possible option.
Captain Virgil van Dijk usually plays as the central man in a defensive three, with Van Gaal able to select from Jurrien Timber, Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij, and Nathan Aké as the other two central defenders.
Daley Blind can also slot in there, as well as play as a left wing-back – a role in which he can provide alternative qualities to the likes of Tyrell Malacia and Owen Wijndal, while Denzel Dumfries is among the best in the world down the right.
Frenkie de Jong will hold the midfield alongside Marten de Roon or Ryan Gravenberch, but the Dutch have lost a big part of their midfield force - with Georginio Wijnaldum injured.
His creativity will need to be replaced by Steven Berghuis who will be the main supply line to Cody Gakpo, Steven Bergwijn, and Memphis Depay. With all three sharing similar characteristics, Van Gaal may look to mix things up by introducing a target man, such as Vincent Janssen or Wout Weghorst.
World Cup 2022: What tactics will Netherlands use?
The Netherlands team are unlikely to play anything close to the ‘Total Football’ their country is famous for, but they will still look to entertain when the chance arises.
Louis van Gaal is arguably the last of the great Dutch coaches but has always been a man to pick a system and then fit his players into it, rather than the other way around.
His 3-5-2 and 3-4-3 set-ups worked extremely well in Brazil eight years ago and he has tried to replicate that since returning to the role last year.
World Cup 2022: Is there value in Netherlands' odds?
Netherlands have been handed a favourable draw in Group A and their odds to top the group are understandably short.
If all goes as expected, they will avoid England in the round of 16 and will likely face either Wales or the USA, but will then face a mighty test in the quarter-finals where they could possibly face France, Argentina, or Denmark.
However, with Louis van Gaal at the helm, the Netherlands squad will always go onto the field with a plan in place that the coach thoroughly believes in.
They have clearly improved with him at the helm and will fancy themselves to go deep in the tournament.
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And don't forget to read our previews for all 32 teams at World Cup 2022 where you can find in-depth analysis of each team competing in Qatar.