Nickname: Oranje (Orange)
FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking: 4
The Netherlands were the first team from the European zone to qualify for the World Cup as they breezed through a rather easy group. They ended the campaign winning all eight games and allowing only two goals. They will compete in Group E alongside Cameroon (ranked 19th), Denmark (ranked 36th) and Japan (ranked 45th).
The Netherlands will make their ninth appearance in the World Cup, having been runners-up twice but never winning. The team comes into this World Cup very confident of their chances and with a lot of determination. They are the favorites to proceed at the top of this group, with Cameroon expected to come in second. It should come down to the last group match on June 24, were Cameroon and the Netherlands will meet in Cape Town.
The Oranje are coached by Bert van Marwijk, who was appointed manager against much scrutiny and second guessing by the fans. However, after seeing the team perform so well under his direction many are switching their concerns to support and praise. Rather than leading by fear and force, Marwijk believes in bonding as a team and enjoying time with his players. This connection has undoubtedly been aided by his two assistants, former Oranje stars Philip Cocu and Frank de Boer.
This team has talent all over the field; the only question is if they can translate that to wins on the biggest soccer stage. The strength of this talented team can be found in midfield, where the likes of Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben play. Sneijder is one of the best passing midfielders in the game and is also dangerous shooting from long range. Robben usually plays on the left side and is super fast and very dangerous on the counter attack.
The Oranje are also extremely talented up front, with forwards Robin Van Persie and Dirk Kuyt leading the attacking. Van Persie has the ability to score goals from out of nowhere and has been compared to Netherlands legend Dennis Bergkamp. Dirk Kuyt may not get the start for Netherlands because they like to play with one forward up front and that should be Van Persie. Kuyt, though, is known for his tireless work ethic and showed during the qualifiers that he has improved in his goal scoring ability, leading the team with three goals.
If the Oranje can avoid injuries, which have plagued many of their star players, and keep their egos in check (another common plague with some of these players) they could make an impressive run in South Africa.