Euro 2012 guide: Holland
EVERYBODY’S 3rd favourites behind Spain and Germany the 2010 World cup runners-up will probably feature much of the same team that got the Oranje to that final.
Blessed with world class players in attack such as Robin Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder Dutch fans will be hoping that Holland adopt a more attacking approach than they did two years ago. A semi-final spot is very likely while nobody would be surprised to see them win their first trophy since 1988.
Bert Van Marwijk, who had his contract renewed until 2016 as reward for a good world cup has still faced critics who say that his approach was too defensive against Spain in the final. The team reacted by scoring 37 goals in 10 qualifiers which was much more in keeping with their football history of attacking play. The coach will probably not change from his one striker system despite calls for him to play both Klass-Jan Hunterlaar and Van Persie as a two fan attack. Instead, he will choose between the two for the central striking role.
Absolutely unplayable on his day, Arjen Robben could well be the player of the tournament if fit. He still managed to make an impact at the world cup despite not being fully fit and will look to give left backs a horrible time cutting in from the right wing on his favoured left foot. Fans, pundits and opponents all know what he’s going to do, but it’s rare that anyone is able to stop him from doing it (as England found out in a friendly in February).
One to watch
An intelligent passer, 22 year old midfielder Kevin Strootman is seen as a more creative option to Nigel De Jong in midfield. Though while many Dutch fans would prefer the more creative option, Strootman, who was playing second division football 12 months ago will probably start from the bench, though he could well find his way into the starting XI as the tournament progresses.
Why they could have a good tournament...
37 goals in qualifying tell you that it’s in attack where Holland’s strengths lie. That fact that Van Marwijk will have to probably choose between Van Persie and Hunterlaar, to stay with his one striker system, highlights the point even more. Van Bommel and De Jong offer a solid, if defensive, base in midfield that should allow their creative player the freedom to play.
Why they could have a bad tournament...
Of all the top teams in Euro 2012 Holland’s defence lacks the most in star power and quality. It remains to be seen whether the likes of Johnny Heitinga and Joris Mathijsen (who haven’t been regulars for their clubs recently) can cope with top-class opponents. There is also a significant lack of depth in that area too - backups being Wilfred Bouma (who hasn’t played for Holland for 4 years) and Ron Vlaar (5 caps).