The Netherlands were once masters of European and world football, with their most famous football product Johan Cruyff still regarded by many as one of the best players the beautiful game has ever seen.
However, in recent years, the Oranje have struggled for success in the international arena. In fact, making it to the World Cup final in 2014 was the exception rather than the rule of late for the Dutch, as they have struggled to even make the big tournaments.
The Netherlands could top the group
On Friday night, the Netherlands hosted world champions France in the Nations League A1 and dominated for much of the game running out 2-0 winners. Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay scored the goals to down Les Bleus.
The victory means that the Dutch still have a chance of topping the group. They face a trip to Germany on Monday in their last group game needing just a draw to top the Group A1. It would be a major turn up for the books if the Oranje won the group. France are still the favourites to win the group, though.
Many considered Koeman’s side the weakest team in the group. Some even questioned UEFA’s decision to have the Oranje in the A groups, as their recent performances in the international game have not been great of late. However, the Dutch have defied the odds by picking up two wins and a draw from their three group games and remaining unbeaten as two of the biggest names in world football.
Koeman resurrecting his career
Ronald Koeman has for a good while been thought of as a talent coach. He did a decent job at Southampton in the Premier League, which led to the former Barcelona star being appointed boss of fallen Merseyside giants Everton.
Koeman made a promising start leading the Toffees to seventh place in the Premier League table in his first campaign in charge, only for the team to make a horrendous start to last season. The Toffees hierarchy lost faith in the former Valencia boss and he was shown the exit door with the Toffees just above the relegation zone.
He returned to football as Oranje boss in February. Many in and outside his homeland questioned the decision to appoint Koeman, as the team had struggled for results under a host of other Dutch footballing heroes. In truth, his results have been mixed so far. However, his team have shown improvement since his appointment and there is more of a positive attitude around the squad since his arrival as boss.
Football needs a strong Netherlands team
For many, the Netherlands are one of the iconic international footballing nations. Although the Dutch have only ever won one trophy in the European Championships back in 1988, they have produced many memorable teams and players.
The current squad of players is relatively young after the exits of the likes of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder from the international stage in recent years.
International football is better off for a Netherlands team in form. Hopefully, their Nations League campaign is a sign that the Oranje are now returning to the top echelon of the international game.
Are the Netherlands on the up under Ronald Koeman?