Future Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal has insisted that his Netherlands side are not among the favourites for the 2014 World Cup.
Asked about his team’s chances this summer, Van Gaal sought to play down Dutch hopes and was quoted in The Independent as saying: 'There are eight to 10 teams better than we are. The chances of reaching the quarter-finals are 20 per cent.'
Having gone unbeaten in qualifying with a record of nine wins in 10 matches, as well as star players in Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, the Dutch enter the tournament as arguably one of the more fancied sides.
Pitched in a tough group with Spain, Australia and Chile, however, a second-place finish could set up a potential last-16 tie against hosts and favourites Brazil.
Having lost influential midfielders Kevin Strootman and Rafael van der Vaart to injury in the run-up, the side have abandoned Van Gaal’s favoured 4-3-3 system in the past month in favour of a new 5-3-2 setup, which it’s hoped will serve them better against their group opponents.
Appointed after Euro 2012, Van Gaal is in his second spell as Netherlands manager, having been in charge for the side’s ill-fated 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign, when they failed to even make it to Japan and South Korea.
The legendary coach is better known, however, for his Champions League-winning success with Ajax in 1995, as well for clinching back-to-back La Liga titles with Barcelona in 1997-98 and 1998-99.
One of the most respected men in football, the 62-year-old is set to depart for Old Trafford after the World Cup, having been named as the man to succeed the disappointing David Moyes last month.
Signing a three-year deal to fulfil a long-held ambition of managing in the Premier League, the former Bayern Munich coach has already named club legend Ryan Giggs as his assistant and will join up with his current national team captain Van Persie in Manchester.
With the club looking to bounce back from their disappointing seventh-place finish last season, an impressive World Cup campaign from Van Gaal’s side will no doubt fill fans with optimism for next season.