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Netherlands National Football Team

The Netherlands National Football Team boasts a rich football heritage as it was the ground zero for totaalvoetbal (total football), a football philosophy that inspired the modern Juego de Posición and Tiki-taka football. The Netherlands reached the final in three of its ten World Cup appearances, but the trophy has evaded them. The Oranje played in seven European championships. It won the Euro 1988 to win its first, and till now, the only piece of major international silverware.

Want to see how The Netherlands National Football Team will do in the Qatar 2022 World Cup? Click the links below to bet on your favourite World Cup matches!

Monday November 21Senegal vs Netherlands (Al Thumama Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 5pm).

Friday November 25Netherlands vs Ecuador (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 5pm).

Tuesday November 29Netherlands vs Qatar (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 4pm).

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Netherlands National Football Team: Key Players and Brief History

Netherlands National Football Team History

The Netherlands Football and Athletics Association ( currently known as Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond, aka KNVB)started its journey in 1889. Still, historical evidence suggests that the first international football match involving the Netherlands did not take place until 1905, when the Dutch traveled to Antwerp to play Belgium in a friendly match. The Netherlands featured in its first competitive tournament in the 1908 London Olympics. It won the bronze medal by beating Sweden in the third-place decider match. 

Olympic Disappointments

In the after years, the Netherlands suffered several Olympics disappointments, including a group stage exit on home turf from the 1928 Olympics. Two years later, the KNVB decided not to participate in the first World Cup as a trip to Uruguay would have been costly. The Netherlands made its World Cup debut in the 1934 edition, which was held in Italy. 

Improving World Cup Results

The Netherlands did not have any noteworthy achievements in the World Cup before the ‘70s. After two first-round exits in 1934 and 1938,  Het Nederlands Elftal returned to the World Cup in the 1974 edition held in West Germany.

The Johan Cruyff Strategy

The Netherlands National Football Team head coach Rinus Michels implemented a brand of football in the competition that was unforeseen in the contemporary world. Michels deployed his captain and first-choice center-forward Johan Cruyff as a free-roaming number nine. Cruyff would move to any position on the pitch he seemed fit to exploit the weakness of the opposition backline.

The other members would change their positions accordingly to facilitate the forward. Teams struggled to cope with the fluidity of this free-flowing system, and the Netherlands racked up easy wins against Uruguay, Bulgaria, Argentina, East Germany, and Brazil to meet hosts West Germany in the final. Johan Neeskens put the Dutchmen ahead only two minutes after the kickoff. Paul Breitner restored parity in the 25th minute, and Gerd Müller turned the tables on Rinus Michels’s men in the 43rd minute by scoring the winning goal. 

1978 World Cup

The Netherlands National Football Team went to Argentina four years later to participate in the 1978 World Cup. But, it did not have its talisman Johan Cruyff in the squad. Midfielder Willem van Hanegem was another high-profile absentee in the Dutch World Cup contingent. Rinus Michel had also left after the 1974 World Cup.

Ernst Happel took elements of the iconic 1974 World Cup team and translated it into a successful run of results that drove the Oranje to the final. It was not classic total football, but the Netherlands still produced a remarkable display of football to face Argentina in the final at the Estadio Monumental. But, Mario Kempes and Daniel Bertoni hit the target in extra time to condemn the Netherlands to a 3-1 defeat in a ferocious Estadio Monumental atmosphere.

Performance Slump

After successive World Cup finals, the Netherlands football hit a slump. It failed to qualify for the 1982 and 1986 World Cup. The Dutch could not gain entry to the Euro 1984 either. 

Rinus Michels Returns

The legendary Rinus Michels returned to the fold in 1988 and took his nation to the Euro 1988 in West Germany. This time, Michels did not have to return empty-handed from West Germany as he led the Netherlands to European glory.

The Netherlands National Football Team started its campaign with a 1-0 defeat to USSR, but it bounced back with a Marco Van Basten-inspired 3-1 win over England. The Oranje beat Ireland in its final group match to confirm a semifinal berth. The Netherlands avenged its 1974 World Cup final loss with a 1-0 win over West Germany to meet USSR in the final. Marco van Basten would maintain his scoring form in the final, and Ruud Gullit also hit the target to ensure a 2-0 win for the Netherlands. 

Return to World Cup Finals

The Netherlands ended its 12-year World Cup exile by qualifying for the 1990 World Cup finals in Italy. Despite entering the fray as a title contender, the Netherlands National Football Team players had to pack their bags after the round of 16.

The Oranje met one of its familiar foes in West Germany in the round of 16. In a heated match that many football fans still remember because of the scuffle between Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Völler, West Germany won the tie 2-1 and eliminated the Netherlands from the competition.

The Dutch would make the Euro 92 semifinals two years later, only to lose a penalty shootout to eventual champion Denmark. 

Netherlands National Football Golden Generations

Netherlands National Football was blessed with two golden generations between 1996 and 2014.

In the first batch, it had players like Dennis Bergkamp, Edgar Davids, Ronald de Boer, Edwin van der Sar and Patrick Kluivert. The likes of Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, and Rafael van der Vaart was part of the later generation.

Despite such a rich assortment of talents, the Netherlands failed to add more silverware to its trophy cabinet. It reached the World Cup semifinals in 1998 and 2014 and played the final in 2010. Also, it made two back-to-back European semifinals in 2000 and 2004. 

The Modern Era

In the post-2014 era, success has been few and far between. The Oranje missed out on the Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. The 2019 UEFA Nations League marked the beginning of a resurgence as the Netherlands made the final of the competition.

The Netherlands National Football Team was one of the co-hosts of Euro 2020. It had a perfect record in the group stage as it played all three matches at the Johan Cruyff Arena. In its first match outside home soil, the Netherlands fell to a 2-0 defeat against the Czech Republic in Budapest. However, the Orange Brigade managed to brush aside its Euro 2020 disappointment and qualify convincingly for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. 

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