Netherlands Team - 2014 World Cup Betting
Best Finish: Runner-up in 1974, 1978 and 2010
Manager: Louis van Gaal
Captain: Robin van Persie
Key Player: Robin van Persie (Manchester United)
Group B: With Australia, Chile and Spain
Four years ago, the Netherlands (Holland) added another runner-up World Cup finish to their resume, thus cementing their position as the best team never to win the Cup. Coming off of the second-place finish to the champion Spain, this team was expected to continuing excelling in international play. However, a disastrous run at EURO 2012, where Netherlands lost all three of their group games, ended this notion and manager Bert van Marwijk stepped down in the aftermath.
Since then, the Dutch national team has reverted back to Louis van Gaal, who also resigned after failing to lead the "Oranje" to a Cup berth in 2002. van Gaal's second time around has been much better since he led Netherlands to a 9-1-0 (W-D-L) record in UEFA Group D qualifiers. Along the way, this team racked up 34 goals and a +29 goal differential while outdistancing second-place Romania by 9 points in the standings.
One notable change that van Gaal made during this dominating qualifying run included bringing in lots of young players. Some of the new faces that figure to play key roles for the Dutch include Jordy Clasie, Bruno Martins-Indi and Kevin Strootman. Martins-Indi is already putting up numbers, having scored two goals during UEFA Group D play.
Of course, there are still some notable holdovers from the 2010 World Cup champion team, including top-flight scorers like Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. The latter found the net three times in qualifiers, while van Persie was even more magnificent, scoring 11 goals in 10 matches. He was incredibly consistent, having scored a goal in almost every match during this phase. Jeremain Lens and Rafael van der Vaart will also be relied upon for production as they both had five goals a piece in qualifying matches.
This team's stellar UEFA performance made the soccer world stand up and take notice. However, it's tough to say if this type of domination will translate over to the tougher 2014 World Cup competition. This is a very young squad and they'll have to compete with tough teams like Chile and Spain for one of Group B's top two advancing spots. But then again, the nice blend of veterans and young players could be just what the Dutch need to repeat their 2010 Cup results.