Since winning the European Championship in 1988, Holland have never failed to reach the knockout phase of the competition. However, the Oranje have not gone beyond the semi-final too. Both in 1992 and 2000 Holland were knocked out after penalty shootouts, while in 2008 a brilliant group stage ended in disappointment as Guus Hiddink’s Russia showed the Dutch the door in the quarter-final.
Holland had an impressive qualifying campaign for Euro 2012, netting 37 goals in ten games and conceding just eight – three coming in the final match against Sweden which was a 3-1 defeat. That stopped Holland recording a 100 per cent qualifying record, as they had on the way to the 2010 World Cup. Coach Bert van Marwijk can call upon a stunning array of attacking talents, including Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. While selecting a team will not be easy for Van Marwijk, if he can find the right mix, the 2010 World Cup finalists could go one better than in South Africa.
In The Dugout – Bert van Marwijk
Van Marwijk took over as coach after Euro 2008 and guided his team to the 2010 World Cup in style. He then took the Oranje to the competition’s final, beating Brazil and Uruguay along the way before losing to Spain, only in extra time. Despite criticism of his side’s cynical approach, the coach has continued to enjoy a good relationship with the country’s media, thanks to an almost perfect Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Van Marwijk has previously bossed Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund, winning the 2002 UEFA Cup with the former. His daughter Adra is married to Dutch international Mark van Bommel, who worked with his father-in-law at Fortuna Sittard between 1997 and 1999.
Key Player – Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Huntelaar is not a striker who stands out on account of an exquisite technique, and his goals are rarely spectacular, but the Schalke man is ruthless in front of goal. Last February, Huntelaar became the second most efficient Dutch striker of all-time, firing himself to an impressive goal per minute ratio of 96.20, due to 30 goals in 2,886 minutes played. And with 12 goals in eight games he finished as the Euro 2012 qualifiers top scorer. The goal machine has been on fire domestically too, finishing as Schalke’s top scorer with 48 goals in all competitions.
View from Holland
The Dutch squad is full of talent and will be one of the favourites for Euro 2012, and in Holland, nobody doubts that the country could win the tournament. At present, the discussion is around who should lead the line, Huntelaar or Van Persie, and what is the best tactical setup for the side. There is nevertheless an expectation that Van Marwijk will make the right calls and lead Holland to the title.
Holland have unbelievable attacking strength, while the jury is still out on the country’s defence. The team lack a top class left-back and in the last six months have lost more games (three) than in the previous three years (two). And the side must be at their best from the off, given the tough nature of the group. Potentially Holland have enough quality to beat all their opponents and to bring home the second major piece of silverware in their history after the legendary campaign of 1988.