How they qualified: Almost perfectly, with a draw against Estonia the only dip. The Dutch played some fantastic, expansive football as their mix of youth and experience meshed in ominous style.
World Cup pedigree: Three desperate falls at the final hurdle dominate their timeline. In 1974 a truly great team led by Johan Cruyff lost to West Germany in Munich, and four years later history repeated itself as they lost to hosts Argentina. In the 2010 final they were edged out by Spain, with Andres Iniesta delivering the killer blow.
Main man: Robin van Persie has blossomed into one of the best strikers in the world, but also a leader to his younger team-mates. RVP scored eleven goals in qualifying and he'll be eyeing the Golden Boot in Brazil.
One to watch: Kevin Strootman's big-money move to Roma hasn't backfired and he's set to become one of the most dominant midfielders around. Powerful, energetic and with great reading of the game, the 23-year-old is set to increase his reputation on the biggest stage of all.
What are their chances? Very good, at least until the draw put them in with world champions Spain and the very dangerous Chileans. Their ability is not in question and with Van Gaal at the helm you can expect a degree of mental toughness too – it's not always a Dutch strength. A place in the last four is a realistic target, if they can just get out of that group.