Netherlands stats explain their shame
FootyOn look at the Netherlands stats behind their World Cup qualifying struggles.
The Netherlands need a miracle to pip final UEFA Group A opponents Sweden to a play-off place.
Although trailing the Swedes by just three points, the Dutch’s goal difference is inferior by 12.
Even a 6-0 victory for Dick Advocaat‘s Clockwork Orange would eliminate them.
This is because that result would see the Netherlands and Sweden level on goal difference, but the Scandinavian side better off by one on goals scored.
The Dutch must win by seven or more goals, but have only managed that twice this millennium – battering Hungary 8-1 in October 2013 and European minnows San Marino 11-0 in September 2011.
With the Clockwork Orange thus on the brink of missing a second successive major tournament, we look at five key Netherlands stats that explain their struggles.
40 players used in World Cup qualifying
Although Advocaat replaced Danny Blind in the dugout midway through this campaign, the Dutch have called upon a lot of players.
Given that large number of different personnel used, the other Netherlands stats below follow on from this.
It is hard to get any consistency in light of this.
6 different starting right backs
Daryl Janmaat, Kenny Tete, Timothy Fosu-Mensah, Joel Veltman, Rick Karsdorp and Joshua Brenet have all played down the right-hand side of defence for the Dutch.
“Problem position” is a football cliche nowadays, but right back really has been an issue for the Clockwork Orange.
5 different centre back pairings
It’s not just on the right flank of defence where the Netherlands stats are staggering.
Four different combinations at centre half also highlights how they have struggled for identity.
Virgil van Dijk, Southampton’s wantaway star turn at the back, has seen the most action in the heart of defence with five appearances.
Jeffrey Bruma partnered him for the first four matches of the campaign but, with both injured, Danny Blind then had to change.
A disastrous 2-0 defeat in Bulgaria followed which cost Blind senior his job despite changing his centre back pairing again at half-time.
Matthijs de Ligt and Bruno Martins Indi began this loss, with Wesley Hoedt replacing the former.
Advocaat then looked for club continuity for country, having Hoedt together with Stefan de Vrij for three successive games.
He changed it up to a fifth different combination when beating Belarus 3-1 away with Van Dijk and ex-Manchester City youngster Karim Rekik.
3 different goalkeepers
Not only has the Dutch defence been far from settled, but so has who protects the posts behind them.
Jeroen Zoet of PSV Eindhoven started the campaign in goal, but then dropped the gloves to Everton’s Maarten Stekelenburg for the next three matches.
Zoet returned in nets for the bruising trip to Bulgaria and Barcelona stopper Jasper Cillessen has been Advocaat’s preferred goalie since.
The lesson here is know your number one.
2 players have started every World Cup qualifier
Perhaps the most damning of the Netherlands stats is how few players have been regular starters.
Only Manchester United’s versatile Daley Blind, used solely at left back by his country, and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijanldum have started every game of the campaign.
Arjen Robben has still played when fit and Wesley Sneijder – a fellow veteran of the 2010 World Cup final vintage – has also been involved.
Bas Dost and Vincent Janssen have been the main centre forward options, while Quincy Promes has seen plenty of action on the wing.
Combative midfielder Kevin Stootman and Everton summer signing Davy Klaassen are the only others to have six or more appearances.
Getting the blend right has been a real problem for Louis van Gaal’s successors both in this campaign and the last.
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