Somewhat against expectations,
Happel started with Jongbloed in the yellow jersey,
and the Dutch lined up with just three at the back
(Suurbier, Rijsbergen and Krol),
though not the five-man midfield Happel had promised.
Hugo Hovenkamp, one of the discoveries of recent years,
had been expected to start as left-back,
but injury was to prevent him from taking any part in the competition,
and his understudy, Jan Poortvliet, was untried at this level.
To a large extent, therefore,
the three-man defence rather than a back four was somewhat forced
on the Dutch by circumstances.
Allowing for the fact that certain of the team were still disposed towards the
flexibility of the "total football" era,
the formation for the opening game can be summarised as a 3-4-3 shape,
with Jansen, Neeskens, Haan and Willy van de Kerkhof across the midfield.
As two of his three strikers, Happel opted for 1974 stars Rensenbrink and Rep.
The former, diligent, intelligent and a great team man, was a favourite of his manager,
whereas Rep, fast, strong and tricky but occasionally a touch wayward,
was not to enjoy a harmonious relationship with the dour coach.
Though not really a conventional centre-forward
(then again, that label hardly did Cruyff justice either!),
Rep seemed happy enough to take on the central role.
The more orthodox Dick Nanninga had distinguished himself in recent friendlies,
and was judged by some worthy of the berth between Rep and Rensenbrink,
but the third member of the chosen strike force was to be René van de Kerkhof,
a right-sided attacker more dogmatic about position than most of the Dutch players.
Although one of the front three would frequently drop back into midfield,
adding further to the opposition defenders' confusion,
René was usually to be found somewhere out on the right flank.
Some authors put Jansen in the line-up as a defender,
and some describe René van de Kerkhof as a midfield player,
and the "real" formation genuinely seems to be a matter worthy of some dispute,
but I've opted to illustrate the shape as 3-4-3,
as I think this best depicts the team's versatility.
My apologies to anyone who feels strongly the other way!