Holland in decline: The future's not bright as orange story set for sorry sequel

Time up: Wesley Sneijder has been dropped from the Netherlands squad for their crunch double header, a move which could bring his international career to an end

Think Johan Cruyff. Think Dennis Bergkamp and Marco van Basten. Think Holland 5-1 Spain, three short years ago. Think Total Football and three World Cup finals, the passing as striking as their eye-catching kits.

Now consider Dutch football totally dissolving in front of your very eyes over the next few days. One of the game’s great entertainers are about to be reduced to rubble.

Unless the Netherlands wipe the floor with Belarus on Saturday, their unrecognisable squad can all-but book their holidays for next summer.

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If failure to qualifying for Euro 2016 in France was a disaster for a side who were a penalty kick away from the 2014 World Cup final in Brazil, then finding a fitting way to describe the impending cataclysm hovering over the land of tulip fields and windmills is as challenging as their quest to get on the road to Russia.

Quite simply, Holland need some kind of miracle to occur before 10pm on Tuesday night.

Not only do they need to claw back Sweden – who host little Luxembourg at the Friends Arena this weekend – but they need to ram home a high number of goals to keep the last match between the two alive in the final group game.

Happier times: Just three years ago, the Dutch beat World and European champions Spain 5-1

With a goal difference six worse, the writing is pretty much on the wall already. It has been since a 4-0 thrashing in Paris against the irresistible French.

So what has gone so horribly wrong at one of international football’s powerhouses? How can you go from crushing the European and World champions Spain so ruthlessly to suffering three relentlessly hideous years that has seen the bottom fall out of Dutch football completely.

The lack of stardust,  – the current squad is littered with unheard ofs and players long past their sell by date – is an unavoidable obvious.

Dick Advocaat, in damage limitation mode with his national side in the doldrums, has decided enough is enough and all-but sent Wesley Sneijder into international retirement with his squad announcement last week.

As a barometer of their desperation, Ryan Babel – recalled for the first time since 2011 – is seen by the manager as a big plus. By only him, it appears.

The fact that veteran winger Arjen Robben is now Holland’s one and only instantly recognisable and proven name shows the depths of the trouble they find themselves in.

So close to glory: Holland lost the 2010 World Cup final as Spain stuck in extra time

The problems run deeper than it seems. Having lost six of their last seven games in Amsterdam, the appointment of Danny Blind was, for a want of a better phrase, short sighted.

The always orange Netherlands support is now lacking it’s usual colour. The Dutch federation – the KNVB – haven’t the leadership of old. There is a general feeling of no confidence in the governing body, reform some say is now a matter of urgency.

To pull themselves back from the edge of the cliff on Saturday when they travel to Belarus is unlikely to be enough. Taking it to the last game regardless will just paper over the cracks.

If, as expected, they fall short having left themselves with too much to do, the story of biggest fall from grace international football has witnessed for many years will now have a sorry sequel.

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