UEFA EURO 2012 Team Preview – Netherlands

Population 16.8 million Area 41,543km2 Capital Amsterdam Currency Euro Official Language Dutch

FOOTBALL FACTFILE

Football Asocciation Koninklijke Nederlandse Voetbalbond (KNVB) Official Site http://www.knvb.nl Year of formation 1889 Euro Ranking 8 World Ranking 4 National Stadium Amsterdam Arena, Amsterdam, Fejenoord Stadion, Feyenoord & Phillips Arena, Eindhoven Well-known club sides Ajax, Feyernoord, PSV, FC Twente Leading goalscorers Patrick Kluivert (40), Dennis Bergkamp (37) Most capped players Edwin van der Sar (130), Frank de Boer (112) European Championship finals attended 1976, 1980, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 Best European Championship performance Winners 1988 Playing Record in European Championship P131 W84 D22 L25 Odds of winning UEFA EURO 2012 8/1

JOURNEY TO POLAND/UKRAINE

Despite victory in the 1988 European Championship thanks to a stunning Marco van Basten volley and powerful Ruud Gullit header, Netherlands still find it difficult not to be regarded as the nearly men of European football. They have reached three FIFA World Cup finals, in 1974, 1978 and 2010, and come off second best on each occasion.

Qualification for Poland/Ukraine again suggests they are primed to break this unflattering and slightly unfair imahe. Rightly top-scoring with 37 goals, in a qualifying group comprising Finland, Hungary, Moldova and San Marino. The Netherlands are in formidable shape going into the tournament finals.

Their squad is awash with the kind of flair and flamboyance befitting of their brilliant-orange kit and theur historic ‘Total Football’ ideals. Wesley Sneijder will no doubt pill the strings behind a lone of either Robin van Persie – on of the hottest strikers in Europe this season – or Klaas-Jan-Huntelaar – whooped the scoring charts in qualifying with 12 goals. Should these three not provide, goals can also emanate from the experienced of Dirk Kuyt and Rafael van der Vaart, or the brutish long-distance punts of captain mark van Bommel. Ofcourse how can you forget the always-dangerous Arjen Robben.

As diabolical as England when it comes to penalty shoot-outs, the Dutch have the experience and capability to overcome theur flaws in 2012. But can they vanquish Spain of their helm?

HOW THEY GOT THERE

03/09/2010 – Group E – San Marino 0-5 Netherlands
07/09/2010 – Group E – Netherlands 2-1 Finland
08/10/2010 – Group E – Moldova 0-1 Netherlands
12/10/2010 – Group E – Netherlands 4-1 Sweden
25/03/2011 – Group E – Hungary 0-4 Netherlands
29/03/2011 – Group E – Netherlands 5-3 Hungary
02/09/2011 – Group E – Netherlands 11-0 San Marino
06/09/2011 – Group E – Finland 0-2 Netherlands
07/10/2011 – Group E – Netherlands 1-0 Moldova
11/10/2011 – Group E – Sweden 3-2 Netherlands

HOME AND AWAY KITS

GROUP FIXTURES – GROUP B

Saturday, 09/06 – Netherlands v Denmark (Kharkiv, 17:00)
Wednesday, 13/06 – Netherlands v Germany (Kharkiv, 19:45)
Sunday, 17/06 – Portugal v Netherlands (Kharkiv, 19:45)

FINAL SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Tim Krul (Newcastle United FC), Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma), Michel Vorm (Swansea City AFC).

Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart), Wilfred Bouma (PSV Eindhoven), John Heitinga (Everton FC), Joris Mathijsen (Málaga CF), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (AFC Ajax), Jetro Willems (PSV Eindhoven).

Midfielders: Mark van Bommel (AC Milan), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City FC), Stijn Schaars (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Wesley Sneijder (FC Internazionale Milano), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur FC).

Forwards: Ibrahim Afellay (FC Barcelona), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (FC Schalke 04), Luuk de Jong (FC Twente), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool FC), Luciano Narsingh (sc Heerenveen), Robin van Persie (Arsenal FC), Arjen Robben (FC Bayern München).

THE CAPTAIN – MARK VAN BOMMEL

He might be the son-in-law of the head coach, but Bert van Marwijk knows as well as the rest of us that Van Bommel’s place in the side comes not through favouritism but pragmatism. He is the rock to Sneijder’s creativity and Van Persie’s cutting edge. At 35, he is no spring chicken, but his claws are as sharp as ever and no one will relish coming up against him this summer.

THE KEEPER – MAARTEN STEKELENBURG

Another product of the world renowned Ajax youth academy to follow in the footsteps of Edwin van der Sar. Maarten Stekelenburg is the latest in a long line of world-class Dutch keepers. At 6ft 5in, he is one of the biggest goalkeepers in the tournament and will certainly be using his gigantic frame to try to put an end to Holland’s embarrassing penalty nightmares.

STAR MAN – WESLEY SNEIJDER

In a team blessed with outstanding individual players, not least Arsenal’s remarkable, in-form Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder remains the lynchpin for Dutch success. The Netherlands have a knack of sculpting goalscoring midfielders for international arena and few are more terrifying than the Inter Milan star. He enjoyed great success in the 2010 FIFA World Cup and will be expected to manufacture opportunities for a sublime strikeforce, and provide the kind of magic that can propel the Oranjemen past comparable opponents.

THE MANAGER – BERT VAN MARWIJK

Took over the role in 2008 from the legendary Marco van Basten, whose managerial abilities didn’t quite live up to his goalscoring ones. Bert van Marwijk, who masterminded Feyernoord’s UEFA Cup triumph in 2001-02, won all of his FIFA World Cup 2010 qualifying matches and then guided Holland to the final, and a disappointing, bad-tempered defeat bu a wonderful Spanish team. Will be striving to go one better in 2012 by lifting the Henri Delaunay trophy and, thereby ending Holland’s 24-year wait for silverware.

TOURNAMENT PREDICTION

Semi-Finals – The Dutch eased past their opponents in their qualifying group to make it to the finals but are drawn in the Group of Death along side Denmark, Portugal and Germany. With the later, the favourites to win the group, it’s going to be a real close fight between Portugal and Holland for the 2nd spot. 2nd spot in the group means a potential semi-final clash against either Spain (favourites to win Group C) or England/France (2nd team from Group D).

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