Profiling The Netherlands

Three-time World Cup Finalists and one-time European Championship winners the Netherlands come to Dublin on Sunday 10th September in what is a key game for both sides.

“The Oranje” as they are nicknamed wear orange as it is the colour of the Dutch Royal family – the House of Orange-Nassau. The lion on the badge has been on the crest of their shirts since 1907 and is embraced as a symbol of the national team. The Dutch fans are famous for wearing their bright orange outfits to support their side and will light up Dublin with their presence.

The national team played their first international match in Antwerp against Belgium on 30th April 1905. In 1908 they competed in their first official tournament at the Summer Olympics in London, receiving a bronze medal after losing to Great Britain in the semi-finals before defeating Sweden 2-0 in the third place play off. They won a further two bronze medals for football in 1912 and 1920.

During the 1970’s the Dutch pioneered “total football” fronted by playmaker Johan Cruyff. Reaching two World Cup Finals in 1974 and 1978 their style and finesse was the stuff of legend.

Johann Cruyff (Image: The Independent)

Led by renowned head coach Rinus Michels, the Netherlands won the 1988 European Championships in West Germany by defeating the USSR 2-0 in the final with a header from Ruud Gullit and an iconic volley by Marco Van Basten. Of course, during the tournament, the Dutch broke Irish hearts with a 1-0 win in the final group game in Gelsenkirchen.

In the 2010 World Cup Final Andres Iniesta scored in extra time to defeat the Dutch 1-0 in their third World Cup Final appearance.

The Dutch National Team are currently ranked 7th in the world (between Croatia and Italy). With an average ranking of 9th, their highest ranking was 1st and their lowest was 36th. They mostly play at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, but they have also played matches at the De Kuip in Rotterdam, Philips Stadion in Eindhoven, and the De Grolsch Veste in Enschede.

Their record appearance holder is Wesley Sneijder with 134 caps and record goal scorer is Robin Van Persie with 50 goals.

They are currently coached by Dutch legend Ronald Koeman (in charge for his second spell) and are captained by Virgil Van Djik. Tbe current highest scorer is Memphis Depay with 44 goals (Depay is not in the squad for this game due to injury). Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo will certainly be a danger to Ireland, and he will be hoping to add to his current tally of 6 international goals.

Cody Gakpo (Image: CNN)

Although they may not be as strong as some of their great teams of the past, with the squad comprising of players from sides such as Manchester City, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, Ireland is surely in for a difficult night. Expect to see the Netherlands line up in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

The Dutch finished 4th in the 2022/2023 iteration of the Nations League, losing 3-2 to Italy in the 3rd/4th place play off, and currently sit in 4th place in European Championship Qualifying Group B after one defeat (a 4-0 loss against France) and one win (a 3-0 victory over Gibraltar).

Prior to the game against Ireland, the Netherlands will play Greece in a qualifier at the Philips Stadion in Eindhoven on 7th September 2023.

Netherlands Form Guide (last twelve games) – WWWWDWWDLWLL

Head-to-head – Ireland have played the Netherlands twenty times, winning seven, drawing four and losing nine.

Last meeting – The last time these two nations met was on 27th May 2016 in Dublin. With Martin O’Neill in charge, this was Ireland’s penultimate game before Euro 2016. Shane Long tapped in his 16th international goal from close range to give Ireland a half time lead, but the Dutch drew level late on with a Luuk de Jong free header.

Conclusion – Stephen Kenny’s men expect to be in for a tough game against the Dutch. But with a raucous Lansdowne crowd behind the team, we hope that we can do ourselves proud. Prediction – 1-1 draw.

James Agnew


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