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Luxembourg and Syria lead the way as Argentina, Netherlands, U.S. struggle

After a less than impressive 1-1 draw with Venezuela, FC's Gab Marcotti calls for patience with coach Jorge Sampaoli.

We have reached the stage of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers when it all feels like a local long distance charity race. The favourites, Brazil, crossed the line ages ago; Iran and Japan joined them soon after; we've politely applauded Mexico, Belgium, South Korea and Saudi Arabia and now we're anxiously looking down the track wondering where everyone else has gone.

Spain are striding effortlessly towards us; Costa Rica, grinning broadly, are right behind them. And, look... there's England, clad in...

Louis van Gaal's hand in Netherlands decline as World Cup miss looms

Davy Propper and Arjen Robben gave the Netherlands hope in Group A with a 3-1 victory over Bulgaria.
The FC panel debate whether Belgium can win the World Cup or merely prove to be an entertaining side in Russia.

Netherlands have now given themselves a fighting chance of qualifying for Russia 2018, but even as Dick Advocaat's team milked the applause of the Johan Cruyff Arena following Sunday's crucial 3-1 victory against Bulgaria, there was a sense of it being a win which merely delayed the inevitable.

World Cup finalists in 2010, semifinalists in Brazil four years later, yet the Dutch are in need of a mathematical miracle to qualify for next year's tournament in Russia, even after the result against Bulgaria...

John Brewin profile picture  By John Brewin

As Dutch face potential doom, Messi and Argentina also need a rescue

Attacker Anthony Nwakaeme says he deserves the call-up to Nigeria for their crunch World Cup Qualifiers vs. Cameroon.

W2W4 previews this week's World Cup qualifying action and highlights five key storylines.

Netherlands face daunting prospect of France

How long will Dutch football remain in the dumper? Thursday night in Paris is a vital match for Netherlands. Should they fail to get at least a draw then Dick Advocaat's team, in third place in Group A, will be six points behind France, and Sweden too if they win in Bulgaria.

Netherlands finished in third place at the 2014 World Cup, but have declined since. Advocaat,...

ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Dennis Bergkamp rolls back the years with a wonderful goal for Ajax

When it comes to talent, there are few who can match former Arsenal striker Dennis Bergkamp. And the 48-year-old seemingly still has what it takes to score wonderful goals, even at his age.

Taking to the field again for Ajax -- the club where he now works as assistant manager -- in a memorial match to mark the 20th anniversary of Dick van Dijk's death, the Dutchman rolled back the years with this fine strike.

Since retiring in 2006, Arsenal have struggled to replace Bergkamp, with even Mesut...

 By Elko Born

Netherlands must end obsession with past after Danny Blind sacking

The past two years have been difficult for fans of the Dutch national team. After finishing third at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014, they have not only had to endure losses to teams like Iceland, Czech Republic and Turkey, but two-and-a-half years of bad, boring and painfully naive football as well.

Much to the relief of those fans, Netherlands boss Danny Blind was sacked after another loss for the Oranje, a 2-0 defeat in Bulgaria. And maybe spirits within the Dutch squad will be lifted as...

Danny Blind's use of Matthijs de Ligt for Netherlands was selfish

Matthijs de Ligt had made two top-flight starts for Ajax before Danny Blind put him in the squad against Bulgaria.

Danny Blind is out as coach of the Dutch national team and Fred Grim has replaced him. (From Blind to Grim: insert your own joke here.)

That was the fallout from the Oranje's 2-0 away defeat to Bulgaria, which left them fourth in Group A, six points behind France, three behind Sweden and two behind Bulgaria. Automatic qualification is likely beyond them but they still control their destiny in terms of a playoff spot given they have home dates against Bulgaria and Sweden coming up in September and...