Monday, May 26, 2014

Meet the Team: Netherlands

: Whether you call them Holland, or the Dutch, or the Netherlands, you have a similar plethora of choices when it comes to the nickname for the squad: Oranje/Clockwork Orange/Flying Dutchmen--take your pick, it all works well.

Star: Dutch attackers tend to pass the torch from one generation to the next, this time around its Robin Van Persie's to run with. Though he won't have a younger ally to tutor, his pace, speed and scoring acumen have made the Man United man Holland's all time leader in goals scored. Hard not to trust him here.

Hip-Star: For all the fun people have with Total Futbol, and memories of Cruyff, Gullit, Kluivert, Bergkamp, Robben, Sneijder, et al, the Dutch need a defense every bit as much. That's why center back Stefan de Vrij is so vital to the team's chances. Alongside a pair of fellow Feyenoord back liners, he'll have to shut down the dangerous Spanish and Chilean attacks to help the Dutch endure a brutal Group B. While he's at it, he can work on lining his parka hood with artisanal hemp designs that simulate fur without murdering animals.

X-Factor: I know that I put way too much stock into touchy feely categories like "momentum" and "chemistry" but the serious psychological gut shot of losing on the biggest stage again, must have some effect on the Dutch. The perennial bridesmaids of European and now, world futbol (since Spain finally got their gold star last time out), might well be professionals, might well be athletic and well trained...but to face the foe who denied them last time in the very first's do or die time immediately for Holland.

Oh...what? World what now?
Coach: Maybe you've heard the name Louis Van Gaal recently. Maybe you've heard that he's due to take on a job managing the most prolific, historic, media beloved club on the planet after this tournament is over. Maybe you've heard all about his plans and transfer targets, his schemes and short leash from management. But have you heard how he's going to guide the Dutch? You know, the team he currently works for and previously left on the door step of qualifying for the 2002 Cup? Yeah, me neither.

History: The title of "Best Team Never to Win the World Cup" has been handed down from Argentina, to France, to Spain and now (officially) to the Netherlands. Back to back runners up in the glory days of Cruyff and Co. are almost 40 years in the past, before any of the current squad was born, should they break the streak (in Brazil of all places) would be miraculous.

Food: I'm not going to be able to brew any beer, or ferment any cheeses, but I think I can manage Andijviestamppot--endives, mashed potatoes and diced bacon.

Fool: Ahh Geert Wilders the man who compared the Quran with "Mien Kampf", opposes all forms of immigration and looks like a distant, douchy, relative of the Malfoy family (though even they think he's a little over the top).

Best Case: Van Gaal is the genius everyone thinks he is. A well oiled machine of midfield and forwards doesn't miss a beat as they redeem themselves against Spain, trounce Chile and make Australia hide in the dressing room rather than play the second half. The momentum continues through the next two rounds en route to a Semi-against Argentina (another case of sweet sweet revenge) and a final against Brazil. Miraculously, unbelievably, they win the cup while unicorns fly over head and Fernanda Lima declares her undying love for me.

Worst Case: Van Gaal is already out the door by the time Spain dismantles the rookie defenders again, Chile pounces on blood in the water and a bedraggled squad goes through the motions in a draw with Australia dropping Holland to the worst showing at a cup since 1938. Fernanda Lima declares her undying love for Geert Wilders.

My prediction: Coming off a second place finish in 2010, the eternal bridesmaids of World Football won't have to suffer a near miss again, not because they're poised for glory, but because the aging dutch in the knock-down-drag-out Group B will likely have everything to play for in their final match against Chile. When that's the case, in South America, against a team in sterling form, it won't end well. 3rd Place--3 points.

Added Bonus: I know what you really want, a sample of NEDERHOP! Here's Dutch Oldskool group Extince with "Spraakwater"

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