For a small European country the Dutch have produced some fabulous players and phenomenal international teams over the years. They have an enviable World Cup record coming close to winning on two occasions in the 1970’s as well as being runners-up at the last World Cup in 2010. The Netherlands won the Eurpean Championship in 1988 with such well known players as Ruud Gullit, Marco van Baston, Frank Rijkaard and Ronald Koeman.
The Dutch are perhaps best known for their team of the 1970’s and their ‘Total Football’ system which was the ‘Tiki Taka’ of its day. The system was intended to confound the rigid man-marking systems commonly deployed by forming a team capable of interchanging positions and in doing so pull other teams systems out of shape, creating space and confusion. This system of playing is standard today and led to the development of more flexible zonal marking systems.
Johan Cruyff is undoubtedly the nations greatest player and one of the Worlds greatest who has gone down in history as the ‘Total Footballer’, he was also important in the development of Tiki Taka at Barcelona which has its roots in Total Football.
The Netherlands are currently ranked 10th by FIFA and reached their highest rank of first for one month in August 2011. The current squad is captained by Robin van Persie who is also the nation’s top-scorer with 41 goals.
The Netherlands qualified for the 2014 World Cup with 9 wins and 1 draw, a +29 GD and 9 points ahead of Romania in second position. They are in Group B at the Brazil World Cup with Spain, Chile and Australia.