Captain Arjen Robben, Netherlands

“We Can Still Make It”- Captain Arjen Robben, Netherlands


Netherlands chances of making to the World Cup 2018 in Russia have been shaky. The team’s performance over the last few years has been quite sluggish. The team missed out on sealing a berth for the Euro 2016 held last year in France and is now facing tough scenarios of making it to Russia next year.

However, Captain Arjen Robben still has faith in the ‘Men in Orange’ claiming that the team will qualify for 2018 tournament. The winger still has hopes that struggling Dutch side will reach the next year’s World Cup in Russia. The team is lying in a difficult spot in qualification group. Netherlands are currently placed third in their qualifying group behind leaders France and Sweden with 13 points from 8 games. This makes their game against Belarus on Saturday even more important for the ‘Flying Dutchmen’.

For the men in orange, nothing less than a win at Barysaw would do. Even a draw would mean that Dick Advocaat’s side missing the next year mega tournament in Russia. Missing out on back-to-back major tournament would be a huge embarrassment for the Dutch side. This would also mean that for the first time since 1986, Netherlands will fail to qualify for two tournaments. Heading into the penultimate round, the team is three points behind Sweden in Group A.

According to skipper Arjen Robben, football is full of surprises and the team has all the chances of making to Russia. The story in the group is however quite tricky. Sweden is hosting minnows Luxembourg while for the Dutch it will be a straight fight for the playoff if they beat Belarus. After beating Belarus the Dutch will set up knock-out clash with Scandinavians at Amsterdam Arena on Tuesday. The winner will go through to the finals in Russia.

It may seem simple but there are a lot of permutation and computation in it. Sweden is second in the group with a superior goal difference of +11. On the other hand, Netherlands who have been runners-up at three World Cups are placed third with a goal difference of +5. A lot is expected out of Dick Advocaat after the 70-year-old took over from sacked Danny Blind. Blind was shown the door in May earlier this year.

Turning around things, Advocaat has taken quite a few surprising decisions. The biggest was the shock omission of Wesley Sneijder from the squad last week. Netherlands most capped player who plays for French club Nice has been the backbone of Dutch midfield along with Robben since making his debut in 2003. Advocaat surprisingly recalled Besiktas winger Ryan Babel who makes it to the Dutch side after a six-year hiatus. Babel fell out of favor from the Dutch national side ever since moving away from Liverpool in 2011.

Netherland lost all hope of qualifying when they were hammered 4-0 by France in August. The team, however, kept their hopes alive by beating Bulgaria 3-1 just three days later. The team news is a bit disturbing ever since Kevin Strootman returned home from the national camp. The AS Roma midfielder left the squad for two games with a thigh injury on Wednesday.