Are Clockwork Orange adventurers still exceeding expectations?
Yet another Dutch World Cup dream finished too soon in Brazil, as the Netherlands (14/1 to win Euro 2016) fell foul of a semi-final spot-kick lottery. However, Louis van Gaal’s 2014 finals squad will linger long in the memory for their exciting pool-topping antics.
Van Gaal himself is now enjoying a tricky, but thrilling, start to life in the Premier League as Manchester United boss, and the controversial former Clockwork Orange coach was certainly the most anticipated arrival following his tantalising tactics during the tournament.
However, the players themselves, who had been largely written off, also illustrated they had more in their locker than pundits had expected. So Coral writers decided to take a look at how the Netherlands stars of the World Cup have fared over the last few months.
Krul provided one of the most talked about moments from Brazil, after being instructed to replace first-choice stopper Jasper Cillessen in the last minute of extra-time in the Netherlands’ quarter-final clash with Costa Rica.
The Newcastle United keeper then taunted the opposition before stepping up to save two spot-kicks. After his surprise sub appearance, cool Krul played no further part in the tournament, and has returned to his posts at St James’ Park.
Although he has started the majority of the Magpies’ matches, Krul has not been able to transfer his heroics to the Premier League, conceding 15 goals, including one penalty, in all competitions.
Regardless of his spot-kick miss against Argentina, Vlaar was a rock in the Dutch rearguard, rescuing them on several occasions. Widely expected to depart Aston Villa over the summer, the 29-year-old has remained with the Birmingham-based club, and formed part of what has been an impressive backline so far.
Despite being currently injured, and surprisingly outshone by partner Philippe Senderos, there is still no doubting the Villa skipper’s importance. The solid centre half (odds-on at 4/9 to help the Dutch keep a clean sheet against Kazakhstan) is now mooted to finally capitalise on his imperious World Cup performances, though, and link up with Van Gaal again at Old Trafford.
Stefan de Vrij
Tipped to also join the Red Devils over this summer, De Vrij was overlooked in favour of Marcos Rojo and instead made a move to Serie A side Lazio.
De Vrij was another outstanding defender for the Dutch in Brazil, complementing Vlaar perfectly as part of a much-lauded back three. The youngster has struggled to adapt to Italy so far, though, and received a red card in his third Serie A start, leaving Lazio with 10 men in their eventual loss to Genoa.
Blind (9/1 to hit home anytime against Kazakhstan) was a revelation for Clockwork Orange at the World Cup, plugging several positions and netting his first ever international goal. His impressive stats, including recovering the ball 34 times in seven games and an 82 per cent pass completion rate, beguiled Van Gaal enough to make him prise the Ajax academy product from his hometown club.
Since his introduction to United’s first team, Blind has hit the ground running, becoming an essential component in the Red Devils’ build-up play. The future certainly looks bright for the adaptable and efficient Dutchman in Manchester.
Robben (7/4 to score two or more against Kazakhstan) was the Netherlands’ talisman at the World Cup, terrorising defences and outshining the likes of Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder. The 30-year-old looked to have reached the peak of his immense potential as he tore apart opponents such as Spain on the counter, providing one assist and netting three times.
The former Real Madrid and Chelsea attacker has continued where he left off in Brazil, helping fire Bayern Munich to the top of the Bundesliga with three goals in seven appearances, including a brace last time out. The German giants will be relieved they managed to cling on to the wing man, in the face of apparent interest from United.