Holland and Roma’s fears have become a reality, as reports say Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman is out for nine months after tearing cartilage in his knee on Sunday against Napoli.
That of course ends the 24-year-old’s season in Roma’s engine room and devastates his World Cup hopes. He figured to be a pivotal piece of the Netherlands drive to get out of a brutal Group B with Spain, Australia and Chile.
Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal did not mince words when asked for his feelings:
“For the national side it is a huge blow. Kevin made a huge contribution to our qualification for the World Cup, he never let us down and now his dreams have died.”
I asked a trusted Dutch source to see what this means for the country’s World Cup fortunes, and he said it’s nothing short of a massive blow that will force van Gaal to turn to Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord) and/or Davy Klaassen (Ajax) for more responsibility in the midfield. He mentioned that Wesley Sneijder has been on the outs with van Gaal. This this turn of events may force both sides into a faster reconciliation.
Furthermore, Strootman’s injury could be the tipping point that sends Chile past the Netherlands, as club soccer continues to toy with the fortunes of World Cup teams.