Our first analysis of the Netherlands World Cup squad

Which players are going to be in the Netherlands’ squad for the 2022 World Cup? Here’s our first look at how it’s shaping up…

In the months leading up to the World Cup, we’re going to do a piece every few months looking at who Louis van Gaal is most likely going to take to Qatar.

Going through position by position, we’ll pick out which players will definitely be going, which ones will probably be joining them and which ones are in with a shot.

Here’s our first take on what the squad, which – while not confirmed – will likely consist of 26 players, is going to look like…


On the plane: Justin Bijlow
Likely to go: Jasper Cillessen, Mark Flekken
In with a chance: Tim Krul, Joel Drommel

If Bijlow is fit, barring a dreadful run of form upon his return from injury, he will be Oranje’s first-choice goalkeeper in Qatar. There’s little doubt about that.

In his absence, Cillessen and Flekken have been the two to deputise for him and are definitely the ones most likely to join the Feyenoord man on the plane.

Krul asked not to be selected for the rest of this season to focus on club duties but could be taken for the purpose of penalty shoot-outs as he was in 2014 if he makes himself available again. As for Drommel, he has been selected by Van Gaal before but would need to improve his club form considerably if that’s to happen again.

Central defenders

On the plane: Virgil van Dijk, Matthijs de Ligt, Stefan de Vrij, Jurrien Timber, Nathan Ake, Daley Blind
Likely to go:
In with a chance: Sven Botman

We’re all but certain to play with three central defenders at the World Cup, and which players will compete to fill those spots seems all but certain too.

If they all stay fit and in decent form for their clubs, the six players seen above will all go and rightfully so as they are excellent options. In our eyes, the only potential change in this area if fitness and form aren’t issues for them is Botman coming in.

Van Gaal has said he wants a left-footed player on the left of the back three and there’s a chance he’ll use Blind as a wing-back. If so, Botman is the player most likely to be called up, especially if he moves to a bigger club/league this summer, to provide competition for Ake.

Right wing-backs

On the plane: Denzel Dumfries
Likely to go:
In with a chance: Jeremie Frimpong, Hans Hateboer, Rick Karsdorp, Devyne Rensch

Dumfries has been the Netherlands’ first-choice right-back for a long time now, and with him being even better as a wing-back, the change in formation has only solidified his place in the starting lineup.

Rensch was backup to the Inter Milan man in Van Gaal’s first few selections while Frimpong was going to be last time out before getting injured and therefore replaced by Hateboer. Karsdorp has yet to be called up but will surely come into contention if he continues to impress for Roma.

Right now, if we had to pick one of them, we’d say Frimpong is most likely to be in the squad as the second RWB, but it’s very much an open spot.

Left wing-backs

On the plane: Tyrell Malacia
Likely to go: Owen Wijndal
In with a chance: 

Malacia has been impressive when given a chance by Van Gaal and will definitely be in the World Cup squad in our opinion.

As for the person that he’ll be competing with for a place in the starting XI, it will be Blind if the manager sees the Ajax man as an option there rather than at centre-back.

If not, we’re pretty confident that Wijndal will be called up and could be far more than just a backup option if he moves to Ajax as has been rumoured and does well there.

Central midfielders

On the plane: Frenkie de Jong, Teun Koopmeiners, Gini Wijnaldum
Likely to go: Marten de Roon, Ryan Gravenberch
In with a chance: Jordy Clasie, Pablo Rosario

De Jong will definitely start at the World Cup, and Koopmeiners will battle Wijnaldum for the spot next to the Barcelona player in the midfield.

Marten de Roon is very likely to be in the squad as a more defensive alternative when we’re protecting a lead, and we’re confident Gravenberch will find some form again, whether at Ajax or elsewhere, and fight his way back into the selection.

If he doesn’t, Van Gaal-favourite Clasie could come in for him as he did in the last squad, while Rosario continues to impress in France and is a potential alternative to De Roon.

Attacking midfielders

On the plane: Steven Berghuis
Likely to go: Davy Klaassen
In with a chance: Guus Til, Donny van de Beek, Joey Veerman

Berghuis has impressed as a number 10 in the new system and is quite comfortably Van Gaal’s first choice in that position.

Klaassen has a real eye goal in an Oranje shirt and if anyone is to replace Berghuis, it’ll most likely be him for that reason.

Til has been a permanent fixture in the squad since Van Gaal took over but his place could come under threat if Van de Beek finally starts to impress at club level again or if Veerman continues to dazzle for PSV. If both do well between now and November, they could also surpass Klaassen in the pecking order.


On the plane: Memphis Depay, Arnaut Danjuma, Cody Gakpo
Likely to go: Donyell Malen, Steven Bergwijn
In with a chance: Wout Weghorst, Noa Lang, Luuk de Jong, Brian Brobbey

Memphis will obviously be going to Qatar and given their quality and form, Danjuma and Gakpo will be too. Where they fit into the 3412 system is not yet clear but they’re excellent backups to the Barcelona man as the left striker at the very least and our two best wingers should we revert to a 433 at any point.

Bergwijn was excellent as Memphis’ striker partner against Denmark and Germany and will be selected as long as he starts playing more at club level, and Malen is seen as the alternative to him.

Van Gaal has spoken of his desire to have a more traditional number 9, and Brobbey could be that man if he plays often and well somewhere. Weghorst and De Jong are ideal Plan B options should we want to play more direct, while Lang has been a regular in Van Gaal’s squads, but unless one of the above players struggles with fitness and/or form, it’s hard to find space for them.

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