Football

Now or Never! The Netherlands at Euro 2012

Robin Van Persie Holland

Boasting of the best team in their history since the legendary Dutch side that fielded the AC Milan trio of Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten, the Netherlands have high hopes of a successful tournament at the 2012 UEFA European Championship in Poland and Ukraine, and with good reason. With star names like Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael Van der Vaart, Robin Van Persie, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Dirk Kuyt, Ibrahim Afellay, etc. forming part of the midfield and attack, it will be interesting to see which four of the aforementioned names Bert Van Marwijk will pick to accommodate the dynamic duo of Nigel De Jong and Mark Van Bommel in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

With a more than impressive qualifying campaign which saw the Oranje pick up a scintillating 27 points in ten games and finish as group leaders ahead of a Swedish side led by Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the Flying Dutchmen enter the competition as one of the contenders. Scoring 37 goals and conceding just eight, theNetherlands turned on the style in the 11-0 whopping of San Marino in a qualifying drive that saw Gelsenkirchen-based Schalke striker Huntelaar bag 12 goals, making him the top scorer in the European region.

While Maarten Stekelenburg makes for a great custodian in goal, the defence will have to step up against other nations that also enter the competition as favourites. The dynamic midfield duo of Van Bommel and De Jong will provide assistance to the defence, while Robben’s pace and tricky footwork is bound to leave the opposing defenders chasing shadows.

Van Marwijk will look to Sneijder for his creative intelligence, while either one of the lethal Van Persie, or the clinical Huntelaar, will lead the line. Van der Vaart, Kuyt and Afellay give the coach extra attacking options. The beaten finalists of the 2010 World Cup will have a point to prove at this summer’s tournament, with most of their star names in their late 20’s looking for national pride and glory. The finest generation of Dutch footballers since the class of ’88, are in their prime, and Euro 2012 might just be their last outing as contenders, which is why lifting the trophy is so important to everyone involved.

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