THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

wsc328 previewWhat are the expectations for the team?
Probably the lowest for some time. After qualification it was said that there were only three players who would be definite starters: Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Kevin Strootman. The latter has been ruled out through a knee injury, with Van Persie currently sidelined for the same reason. When Robben is your beacon of fitness then you know you are struggling.

Is the coach popular?
Not really. People tend to appreciate the success Louis van Gaal brings while not particularly warming to him as a person. But that's the way he seems to like it. Typical of the man is the jingle he made for the most popular radio show in the Netherlands: "I don't know your programme but, yeah, I suppose good luck with it anyway."

Are there any players who have appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?
Van Persie is one of the many intergalacticos appearing in the latest Pepsi Max advert. At least the likes of Sergio Ramos and Jack Wilshere actually get to boot a ball in the advert; all Van Persie does is jump up and down with his mouth open.

Which players are good interviewees and who are worst?
Wesley Sneijder can be funny and disarming; he famously sat on an interviewer's knee in the studio after an international a few years ago. Jeremain Lens is a nice guy but something of a mumbler. A lot depends on results. At Euro 2012, most of the big names were reluctant to talk to any of the press after losing. Which, given the results, made it pretty hard going.

Are there any players with unusual hobbies or business interests?
If Twitter is anything to go by then Rafael van der Vaart seems to spend a lot of time being photographed alongside people in foam dinosaur suits. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has set up his own foundation, which supports amateur football clubs as well as initiatives on sustainability.

What will the media coverage be like?
All matches will be shown on terrestrial TV. There will almost certainly be a chat show every evening as well, hosted by the enthusiastic, cigar-smoking Jack van Gelder (on whose knee Sneijder sat). The atmosphere will be informal, glasses of wine on the table and such things, the setting will probably be a rooftop bar overlooking São Paulo and guests are likely to include current players and managers, in addition to the regulars: ex-pros such as Ronald Waterreus, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Ronald de Boer.

Will there be many fans travelling to the finals?
As always, there will be plenty of supporters decked from head to toe in orange at the matches. In what has also become a tradition, a special campsite will house many of the Dutch fans travelling to Brazil. Located south of the centre of São Paulo, it has been described as having the ambience of Lake Garda in Italy. Don't be surprised to hear them singing "Oranje boven, oranje boven, Leve de koning, en Maxima!" which means "The Dutch on top, long live the king and [Princess] Maxima". Very respectable stuff. Derek Brookman

 

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