Netherlands World Cup 2022 guide: Key players, injuries, tactics & tournament prediction

It will be Virgil van Dijk's first World Cup with the Netherlands
It will be Virgil van Dijk's first World Cup with the Netherlands / Briony Painter | 90min

The Netherlands return to the World Cup after missing the 2018 edition with their sights set on triumphing for the first time.

The team has been rejuvenated by the return of Louis van Gaal, winning 11 and drawing four of their 15 matches since he took over in the summer of 2021.

With a squad full of established names and exciting talents, and a group stage draw that has been somewhat kind to them, they look set to make their mark in Qatar as they did in Brazil under the same manager eight years ago.

Here's what to expect from the Netherlands at the 2022 World Cup.

When are the Netherlands' group games?

  • Senegal vs Netherlands (November 21, 16:00 GMT)
  • Netherlands vs Ecuador (November 25, 16:00 GMT)
  • Netherlands vs Qatar (November 29, 15:00 GMT)
  • Netherlands vs Senegal H2H record: Played 0
  • Netherlands vs Ecuador H2H record: Played 1, Drawn 1
  • Netherlands vs Qatar H2H record: Played 0

Who is in the Netherlands' confirmed 26-player squad for the World Cup?

Goalkeepers: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Andries Noppert (Heerenveen), Remko Pasveer (Ajax)

Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Ajax), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Denzel Dumfries (Inter Milan), Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern), Tyrell Malacia (Manchester United), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Stefan de Vrij (Inter)

Midfielders: Steven Berghuis (Ajax), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Xavi Simons (PSV), Kenneth Taylor (Ajax)

Forwards: Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Cody Gakpo (PSV), Vincent Jansson (Antwerp), Luuk de Jong (PSV), Noa Lang (Club Brugge), Memphis Depay (Barcelona), Wout Weghorst (Besiktas)

Which Netherlands players are missing the World Cup through injury?

Georginio Wijnaldum fractured his shin at the start of the season and has missed out on the chance to play his second World Cup.

Asides from that, Van Gaal has a fully fit squad to choose from; Matthijs de Ligt and Memphis Depay have been struggling with injuries recently but should both recover in time.

Who are the Netherlands' best players?

Cody Gakpo
Cody Gakpo is the name on everybody's lips / James Williamson - AMA/GettyImages

Cody Gakpo

All eyes will be on Cody Gakpo in Qatar. With 13 goals and 17 assists for PSV this season, he's attracted the attention of the world's biggest clubs ahead of the January transfer window, and an impressive World Cup would all but secure a move to one of them.

Growing into his role in the team as a number 10, Gakpo could have a big tournament.

Memphis Depay

Memphis Depay has been his nation's talisman for quite some time, grabbing 34 goals and 23 assists in his last 47 international matches.

He's a far, far better player than the one that struggled at Manchester United and, if fit, will be the Netherlands' biggest threat.

Frenkie de Jong

Frenkie de Jong was going to be Van Gaal's most important player regardless of how his situation at Barcelona panned out in the first half of this season, but with the midfielder forcing his way into Xavi's plans with impressive performances, it's even more certain that he'll be running the show for Oranje.

The 25-year-old oozes composure and that's crucial in tournament football.

Virgil van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk may have struggled at club level this season, but the Netherlands captain has looked as good as ever in orange ahead of his first World Cup.

The tactics of Van Gaal complement Van Dijk's defensive skillset perfectly, and it's the perfect opportunity for him to silence some of his early-season Liverpool critics.

Netherlands predicted starting lineup

As he did in 2014, Van Gaal has implemented a 3-4-1-2 system since returning to the Dutch job and already knows most of his starting XI ahead of the World Cup.

That being said, who his starting goalkeeper will be remains uncertain, as does De Jong's central midfield partner.

Netherlands predicted XI: Bijlow; Timber, Van Dijk, Ake; Dumfries, Berghuis, De Jong, Blind; Gakpo; Bergwijn, Memphis.

Netherlands' form going into the World Cup

Van Gaal used this year's Nations League matches to experiment and take a look at a number of different players but managed to secure strong results nonetheless, with the Netherlands topping their group with five wins and a draw, with the highlight being a 4-1 win in Belgium.

Prior to that, they beat Denmark 4-2 and played out a 1-1 draw with Germany in March.

Netherlands' last five results

Wales 1-2 Netherlands
Netherlands 2-2 Poland
Netherlands 3-2 Wales
Poland 0-2 Netherlands
Netherlands 1-0 Belgium

Where will the Netherlands finish in the World Cup?

The Netherlands have their strongest squad in years, arguably their best manager ever and head into the World Cup in better form than the majority of the other major nations.

However, they're likely to come up against perhaps the only two that are in better shape than them if everything goes as expected, set to face Argentina in the quarter-finals and Brazil after that if they can overcome the side that knocked them out in 2014.

This is a very strong Dutch side, maybe good enough to beat one of the South American heavyweights, but getting past both of them may be too tall an order.

Prediction: Quarter-final