Group B in focus: Netherlands

Australian football is already well aware of the Dutch style of play, and we’ll see it up close when the Socceroos face the Oranje at the World Cup.

As if the World Cup task facing the Socceroos wasn-t already hard enough, being drawn alongside reigning Champions Spain and world No.15 Chile, the last ball to drop in Group B was that of the Netherlands. Cue whispers we had drawn the infamous “Group of Death.”

Australian football is already well aware of the Dutch style of play, and we-ll get the opportunity to see it up close when the Socceroos face the Oranje in Porto Alegre on 18 June 2014.

Our national curriculum, which recently released its second edition, is largely based on their passing game philosophy. Our National Technical Director is Dutchman Han Berger.

Add to the mix the general of our “Golden Generation” was Dutchman Guus Hiddink, who was eventually succeeded by compatriot Pim Verbeek, the Socceroos will have a fair idea of what they-ll be up against when we play the runners-up from South Africa 2010.

The Netherlands accrued an amazing 28 points through their UEFA qualification process, only dropping two points from their 10 games when they drew away to Estonia.

The Dutch amassed 34 goals in the process, while only conceding five, to go through with the best goal difference of any country in Europe.

Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder, Van der Vaart, De Jong. These are just some of the international superstars the Socceroos will find themselves up against at Estadio Beira-Rio.

The world No.9 will be making their tenth appearance at the World Cup and have finished as the beaten finalists on three occasions. They were runners-up in 1974 and 1978, along with their heartbreaking 1-0 extra-time loss to Spain in the last edition.

At the peak of their success in the 1970's, the team was famous for its mastery of “Total Football” a tactical theory in which players roles are interchangeable. They would go on to taste success at Euro 1988.

Despite their pedigree, the Socceroos will hold no fear when they face Louis van Gaal-s men. Australia being one of the few nations who enjoy an unbeaten record against the Dutch, notching a win and two draws in our three internationals.

We drew 1-1 in Rotterdam in the lead up to the 2006 World Cup and played a goalless draw when they visited our shores in 2009. Undoubtedly our best result was in the lead up to our 2008 Asian Cup campaign when goals from Kewell and Kennedy lead us to a famous victory on Dutch soil.

Make no mistake the Socceroos will be up against it when we take on the Netherlands in our second group match. But with our backs against the wall that will give us the best chance to come out swinging.

Socceroos fans with be hoping that Shirley Bassey-s famous lyrics ring true and we find a little bit of history repeating.