Pedigree As a rule, the Dutch tend to do pretty well when they get to international tournaments these days. Getting there has proved to be the hard part: After reaching the final in 2010 and the semifinals in 2014, the Netherlands was not even present in Russia four years ago. Coach Louis van Gaal’s team is trying to make up for lost time.
Ambition Van Gaal was in charge in 2014, too, when his tactical acumen managed to take a far less well-equipped squad within a penalty shootout of reaching a second final in four years. This time, he has a defense built around Virgil van Dijk and a midfield orchestrated by Frenkie de Jong. And he is Louis van Gaal, so he will see no reason that he cannot win the whole thing.
Key Question The players left behind — Sven Botman, Ryan Gravenberch, Arnaut Danjuma — indicate the quality of the Dutch squad. If there is a weakness, it is up front, where Memphis Depay remains the only proven scorer. It would be a good time for Cody Gakpo, the PSV Eindhoven sensation, to come good on his promise.