Surely it is time for this Holland side to win a major championship?


Even with Spain and Germany set to be the favourites going into Euro 2012, many are tipping the Dutch to lift the trophy this summer. Most bookies currently have Bert van Marwijk’s side at around 7/1, which seems like good value for a team that includes such attacking talent. Could this finally be the year that they finish the job and win their first major championship since 1988?

On paper, the attacking flair and individual talent that the Dutch possess looks frightening. Robin van Persie goes into the tournament off the back of a fantastic season for Arsenal, scoring 30 league goals and being named PFA player of the year. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar also had a magnificent campaign with Schalke, finishing top scorer in the Bundesliga with 29 goals, 48 from 47 appearances in all club competitions. Then there’s Arjen Robben who, playing predominantly out on the wing, had a goal per game average of 1 in 2 for Bayern this season.

Van Marwijk also looks spoilt for choice in terms of supporting midfield players. We’ve seen it often before when attacking midfielders join in with strikers, not only acting as the link but also providing a lethal finish in and around the area. Taking a look at the recent friendly against Northern Ireland, in which Holland ran out 6-0 winners, Afellay was directly involved with Robben and van Persie for both of his goals. They appear to have a great balance between composed technical ability & pace and movement when going forward. Not only do they put in good performances, clearly in-form, but they compliment each other so well – perhaps more so than we have seen at previous tournaments.


They also look like one of the most dangerous teams from set pieces. This can never be underestimated at top level international tournaments because when their backs are against the wall, they are tired, or into extra-time in the latter stages, set plays can be a crucial weapon. Any of the Dutch attacking players look capable of striking free-kicks well, but their primary man for these dangerous situations around the edge of the area will most certainly be Sneijder. He scored a curler over the wall against Northern Ireland and will surely be instructed to try his luck on opportunity from range. The first goal in that game also came from a set-piece, this time a worked corner. Van Persie’s movement at the back post allowed him to peel away and head home at close range from the cross.

Van Warwijk has also taken to playing de Jong and van Bommel, which provides his side with an anchor in front of the defence. Even if he opts for van der Vaart in midfield, Heitinga and Mathijsen are pretty disciplined, despite the Dutch coach blaming Heitinga for the recent loss to Bulgaria, and it will be a tough ask for any opposition to break through the wall of aggression that they encompass. Teams like Germany may look to try and stretch the game when they take on the Dutch in group B, but if Holland meet for example Spain later on, their set-up could easily work in their favour. Spain get frustrated when they can’t work a route to goal through short quick passing, and if Holland can resist these waves of attack, then they can seize opportunities to counter, even when possession doesn’t work in their favour.

All in all, you have to think that the Dutch have a great chance of winning the Euros. They did lose to Germany in a friendly back in November, but were missing players. I always think, once a tournament gets under way with only three group games, if you get off to a good start then you are big favourites to go through. Getting out of the ‘group of death’ may be seen as a tricky task, but they should beat Denmark in their opening game and, from there, the momentum could take them into the form they need.

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