Netherlands, as a team, have historically been the biggest underachievers of all time. For a nation that has produced so many legends of this game, to have won only one major tournament (Euro 1988) is felonious. In nearly every tournament, they have participated since 70’s, they have gone in as one of the title contenders, but despite having legendary names on the team sheet, they have somehow managed to choke every time.

The Dutchmen have always grabbed the spotlight with their wonderful and attractive style of football. Since the days of Rinus Michels, to Louis van Gaal and van Basten, Netherlands have always played the game in its most beautiful form. Lack of talented footballers have never been a problem for Oranje;Ai??in fact at times it just that they had too many of them. Ego clashes and internal strife has caused the national team a lot of problems in the past.

Holland's Marwijk

Can he finally take Netherlands to the promised land?

Netherlands

In the last World cup held in South Africa, Netherlands managed to reach the final of the tournament. It was their 3rd world cup final in their history, and once again they failed to cross the final hurdle. This time they lost to Spain. With the attacking prowess they possess at their disposal, Bert van Marwijk will certainly harbour hopes of winning first major title after a span of 24 years. The wait has been too long.

Netherlands Team News and Strategy

Euros 2012 Profile

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

Netherlands boast of having three world class goalkeepers in their roster. Both Michel Vorm and Tim Krul have had fantastic seasons with Swansea and Newcastle respectively. But Stekelenburg in all likely hood will pip them to the number 1 jersey. Roma’s custodian has been one of the best in Europe for the past few seasons now. All in all, the Dutch goal will be in safe hands.

Verdict : Excellent

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

There has been two some what surprising selections in defense. Very few expected Wilfred Bouma and Jetro Willems in the final squad. Willems is a 18-year-old left back, who broke into the PSV Eindhoven’s first team this year. Willems has been chosen over Erik Pieters for the left back spot, and if the recent friendlies are to go by, Willems will start as well. The Eindhoven man made his debut in the friendly against Bayern Munich on 22nd of May.

Gregory van der Wiel, John Heitinga, Joris Mathijsen and Jetro Willems will form the back four. van der Wiel is one of the most saught after talents in Europe at the moment and this tournament will provide him a perfect platform to shine. Mathijsen is coming into this tournament on the back of a successful season at Malaga; he will hope to form a solid defensive partnership with Heitinga. Bert van Marwijk will also hope that Jetro Willems will finally prove to be the solution to the left back spot, which has been his headache for a while. They are yet to find a long term replacement for Giovanni van Bronckhorst, who retired after the last world cup.

The Dutch defense can be leaky when up against strong opponents. While this defensive line-up is certainly not among the best, they will hope that their midfield can dominate and provide a cover to their defensive frailties.

Verdict : Weak

Midfielders: Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona), Mark van Bommel (AC Milan), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (Sporting Lisbon), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham).

There is no surprise in the names selected for the midfield. Mark van Bommel, the Dutch captain, will anchor the midfield. If van Marwijk uses the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 formation, then Nigel de Jong will partner van Bommel in the center of the park with Sneijder playing ahead of the pair. Afellay is coming into this tournament after a spending a chunk of last season on the sidelines due to injury, though the Barcelona man’s selection isn’t a surprise, he is only expected to play the role of an ‘impact’ substitute. Rafael van der Vaart is another big name who might miss out on the starting line-up. Kevin Strootman and Stijn Schaars have been in good form for Sporting and PSV respectively and will provide Marwijk good options off the bench.

Mark van Bommel and de Jong will have the important role of providing cover to a relatively weak Dutch defense. Wesley Sneijder, who has had a disappointing season with Inter, will hope to be back to his best as he will try and orchestrate the play from the midfield.

Verdict : Strong

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

Netherlands have two of the most in form strikers in Europe at the moment, Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. Both of them have been in prolific goal scoring form for their clubs. Dirk Kuyt didn’t have a great season for Liverpool, but his work rate and desire might see him grabbing a starting berth. Arjen Robben has faced great disappointment with Bayern, first in the Bundesliga and then in the Champions league final, but the Dutch winger is sure to start when fit. 21-year-old Narsingh is an exciting prospect and he has provided most of the assists to Dutch league top scorer Bas Dost at SC Heerenveen.

Siem de Jong of Ajax was dropped from the squad, but his brother Luuk de Jong finds is name among the probables. He and Narsingh will have to utilise what ever little chances comes their way.

Verdict : Excellent

Netherlands

Key Players

Netherland's most important players

Three most important!

Netherlands

Mark van Bommel – The Tackling Machine

Netherlands’ skipper has been there and done it all in club football. He has won league titles at four different continents including a Champions league winner medal with Barcelona. But the only thing that is missing from his trophy cabinet is an international honour with Holland. This might very well be the last chance for the 35-year-old van Bommel to win something with the Oranje, after missing out on winning the world cup in South Africa.

He is one of the best ball winning midfielders in past decade or so, and once again he would be the one to provide cover to a relatively weak Dutch defense. His importance in the team cannot be over emphasized. If Netherlands are to win this tournament, then Marwijk’s son-in-law will have to play a big part in it.

Wesley Sneijder – KapellmeisterAi??of the Dutch band

Sneijder has had a fairly disappointing season, compared to his usual high standards. His season was also plagued by niggling injuries. Despite all this, he still remains one of the best play-makers in the sport today. His link up with van Persie and Huntelaar is pivotal and there were signs in the recent friendly defeat against Bulgaria, that the triumvirate are slowly getting into sync. Sneijder played a wonderful lofted pass for van Persie, who timed his run perfectly, and scored on the volley. Dutch fans are sure to get many such moments in this tournament.

Robin van Persie -Ai??He scores when he wants”

59 goals in the last 80 appearances for Arsenal; that’s how prolific van Persie has been in the past two seasons. The man who was always earmarked as the long term replacement of Dennis Bergkamp for both Arsenal and Netherlands, is finally fulfilling his promise. With a potentially leaky defense at the back, Marwijk will hope that van Persie and Huntelaar can score more goals than they concede.

There have been talks prior to the tournament about how difficult it might be to accommodate both van Persie and Huntelaar into the starting line-up. But the Gunner captain is more than adept at playing behind the front striker and even in wide areas. In the recently concluded friendly against Bulgaria, van Persie played wide right in the 4-2-3-1 formation with Huntelaar in the middle. The Dutchman is all set to make this a tournament to remember, both on the personal front and for his team.

Manager Insight

Bert van Marwijk

It has now nearly been four years since Marwijk took over as the coach of Netherlands, succeeding Marco van Basten. Ever since he has taken over as the manager, results have followed. Netherlands, for most part of their history, have always given more importance to their style and brand of football rather than results, which perhaps was the main reason behind them being such underachievers. Marwijk to a certain extent has changed that philosophy. The Dutchmen have lost only five games in the 46 matches that Marwijk has been at the helm.

Marwijk’s philosophy of getting ‘results’ hasn’t gone down well with some of the Dutch legends. Johan Cruyff has even asked for the removal of Marwijk from the post in the past. In one of his weekly column, he once wrote that it hurts his eyes to watch Holland play the way they were playing. Keeping criticism aside, Marwijk probably came the closest of any previous Dutch managers in ending the title drought for the Oranje.

Euros 2012

Group Matches

Saturday, June 9, 2012 v Denmark (in Kharkiv)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 v Germany (in Kharkiv)

Sunday, June 27, 2012 v Portugal (in Kharkiv)

Prediction : Semifinalist

Netherlands has been drawn into the group of death, with Denmark, Portugal and Germany in it. Considering this, their first match in the group with Denmark becomes a must win game for them. Portugal has enjoyed fairly good success against Netherlands in recent history and Germany are one of the favourites to win the tournament. Having said that, the Dutch side has enough quality in them to qualify into the knockout phase from this group. They are expected to be runners up in this group with Germany at the top.

Looking at the depth and quality in attacking third of the team, it would take an upset for Netherlands to miss out on semi-final berth at the least.

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3 Responses to “Netherlands At Euro 2012 – Will They Underachieve Once Again?”

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  1. Gone are the days that Holland goes into tournaments wanting to show the world how fantastically they can play football. Thank God! Now they have a manager, van Marwijk, who wants results, who wants to win the tournament, just like the Germans always want to win the tournament. You go a long way wanting to win instead of wanting to play beautiful football – cf. Chelsea.

  2. Samrat Das says:

    Holland always play beautiful football. Because they bring beautiful players every season. Can u remember in 70’s Cruyeff,krol,rensenbrink,niskens in late 80 they had van basten,gullit,rijkaard. in 90 Bergkamp,davids,seedorf,kluivert,boer brothers,stam,overmars,zenden,van der saar.

    now we have new generation Van Persie,Van der vaartt,Robben,Sneijder,Huntelaar,Kuyt,Van Bommel,Vlaar..

    come on Holland u must do it again :) to achieve it