World Cup 2006 Preview – Holland
Outright Odds: 12/1
Group C Winners: 13/8
New coach Marco van Basten has proven to be a revelation off the pitch as much as he was on it since taking over the Dutch national team. Plucked from an obscure youth coaching role at Ajax where he kept his head down and had low responsibilities when Dick Advocaat quit after Euro 2004, van Basten has made this new-look Dutch team his own.
Out with the old and in with the new seems to be van Basten’s philosophy so while former well known favourites such as Clarence Seedorf and Patrick Kluivert have been given the chop, some of the best players the Dutch Eredivisie has to offer have come in to replace them.
Players such as AZ Alkmaar’s Denny Landzaat, Feyenoord’s Dirk Kuyt and Ajax’s Ryan Babel may not be household names yet but have all won the backing of the manager. Ajax have a strong representation in the squad, with John Heitinga, Nigel de Jong, Hedwiges Maduro and Wesley Sneijder, all under the age of 23, vying for a place in the starting line-up.
The faith shown in locally-based players along with more recognisable faces such as evergreen trio Edwin van der Sar, Edgar Davids and Philip Cocu and the likes of Arjen Robben and Ruud van Nistelrooy has paid off.
The team are showing true team spirit and togetherness, unlike the inconsistent squads of the past and in qualifying notched up 32 points, the highest of any European side. Holland finished five points clear at the top of their group that also included bogey side Czech Republic and Romania, both of whom they beat twice. Surprisingly, the only country they didn’t beat was Macedonia who they drew with twice.
Ruud van Nistelrooy was in scintillating form during qualifying with seven goals in 10 matches and now back in favour at Manchester United, could be a good investment for the top goalscorer market.
The Dutch are always one of the favourites for the tournament but never quite manage it. They have reached the final twice, the semi finals and quarter final stages but never have enough to win it outright.
The team entering this year have little World Cup experience and it would be a big ask of this team to go all the way in Germany.
Holland offer better value to win Group C than Argentina but a lack of experience throughout the squad means they cannot be backed to win the tournament outright. Ruud van Nistelrooy could be a good each-way investment for the top goal scorer berth on his debut at the finals.
Holland to win Group C @ 13/8
E/W Ruud van Nistelrooy as top goalscorer @ 16/1
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