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Is this the worst Holland squad ever?

Holland's latest squad has been roundly criticised, but is everything  as bad as it seems?

Anyone who likes the game has an affinity with Dutch football.

Whether it’s Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten, Dennis Bergkamp or Arjen Robben every generation of modern football was represented by a world-class Dutch footballer.

But that can no longer be said.

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Dripping with class

AP:Associated Press
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Dripping with class

The latest Holland squad, which will take on Scotland and Romania, is a far cry from the Dutch squads of years gone by.

You’d be hard pushed to find a single world-class player out of the lot.

Wesley Sneijder, who with 132 caps is by far the most experienced player, is the last of Holland’s most recent golden generation holding on.

The last man standing

Reuters
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The last man standing

Sneijder was a magical no.10 in his prime but at 33 his powers are on the wane, highlighted by the fact he’s only played six games for Nice this season.

Ryan Babel’s Besiktas revival has earned him a recall but at 30 he’s fast approaching the end of his international career.

Then it’s very much a smattering of players turning out for mid-level European teams or people like Jasper Cillessen and Daley Blind who warm the bench for top tier sides.

Blind’s favourite position of late

Reuters
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Blind’s favourite position of late

Recent results have included a 4-0 demolition at the hands of France and 2-0 defeat against Bulgaria which contributed to Holland missing out on World Cup 2018 qualification.

But results aren’t the be all and end all of Dutch football. This is, after all, a team that haven’t won a major tournament since 1988, although they came second at the 2010 World Cup.

What’s missing is the flair and technical excellence that used to run through Holland players’ DNA, even more so now that Arjen Robben has retired from international duty.

Adios, Arjen

AFP or licensors
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Adios, Arjen

But are there signs of hope? The simple answer is yes.

In Memphis Depay they have a man who’s part of France’s most prolific front three at the moment.

Lyon’s trio of Depay, Mariano and Nabil Fekir are outscoring PSG’s Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani.

The bright light

AFP
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The bright light

Defender Matthijs de Ligt has been playing for Ajax since the age of 17 and is reportedly being chased by Barcelona.

When paired alongside Virgil van Dijk Holland have a partnership to build a side around.

And De Ligt’s fellow Ajax player Donny van de Beek is reportedly interesting Mauricio Pochettino at Spurs, which would be a fantastic place for any young midfielder to learn their trade.

Facetiming with Daniel Levy

EPA
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Facetiming with Daniel Levy

Drop into the youth levels and you’ll find Justin Kluivert, whose electric performance on Ajax’s wing have gained plenty of plaudits, and the similarly jet-heeled Steven Bergwijn of PSV.

So there’s reason to be optimistic.

The revival can’t come soon enough because the quicker Holland are back at the summit of world football the better.