Under Bert van Marwijk The Netherlands will be looking to end their wait for a major international championship having won the European Championship in 1988. Since then they have reached the semi-finals of the Euros on three occasions and have failed to progress any further.
'Oranje' hold the record for playing the most World Cup finals without ever lifting the prestigious trophy and will be hoping to prevent the continuity of being called the "nearly men" of world football.
At the last World Cup at South Africa in 2010, Netherlands made it to the final beating the highly favoured Brazilians and Uruguay only to lose 1-0 to Spain in the final after extra-time. The team proved very difficult to beat during the whole tournament however, Dutch football legend Johan Cruyff accused them team of betraying their footballing heritage for not adopting the approach of "Total Football" in the manner of which previous Dutch teams have played.
The influential tactical theory of "Total Football" has made Netherlands international side over the years a favourite to watch, especially in the 1970's. The theory was invented by Dutch manager Rinus Michels who implemented the tactic at Ajax and the Netherlands national side while he was managing them. One of the greatest footballers ever to grace the globe, Johann Cryuff, was the system's most famous advocate. However it was at Euro 1988 where "Total Football" was validated with glory on the European stage with the likes of Marco van Basten, Ronald Koeman, Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit.
This time around it is a much different generation but the Dutch side enter Poland and the Ukraine as the top scorers in qualifying with 37 goals in a group consisting Finland, Hungary, Moldova and San Marino. They recorded the biggest win in the country's history by demolishing San Marino 11-0 and head into the championships high on confidence. The group of death that awaits them in the green grass of Ukraine comprises of Denmark, Germany and Portugal which is definitely not a walk in the park. The group will pose more than a challenge but the Netherlands have enough quality to go all the way.
One key figure in helping to qualify for the Euro is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The Schalke striker has an impressive national team record with 31 goals in 53 appearances and will be looking to continue that form. "The Hunter" topped the goal scoring charts in qualifying for Euro 2013 with 12 goals and he has also been in fantastic form for Schalke, putting away 29 goals to win Kicker magazine's award for the Bundesliga's top marksman.
The Netherlands have another sensational marksman in Robin Van Persie who is one of the top strikers around at the moment. "RVP" has scored 59 goals in 80 games over the last two seasons for Arsenal, he topped the EPL scoring charts this season netting 30 goals also being crowned the PFA Players' Player of the Year. Whether Bert van Marwijk will use Van Persie as a lone striker ahead of Huntelaar or as a second striker supporting Huntelaar remains to be seen but the Dutch most certainly do not lack fire power.
Another quality that the Dutch do not lack is creativity and goalscoring midfielders. Sneijder's ability to pull strings while dictating play was evident in the World Cup as he was their talisman in the campaign with his performances, especially in the semi-final triumph over Brazil.
Lets not forget Arjen Robben on the wing, he will also be very instrumental with his silky runs and trickery which is enough to bedazzle the toughest defenses in world. Still disappointed from Bayern's Champions League final loss, he will be eager to make this tournament a one to remember for success.
The Bayern Munich winger will come across team mates and players he is familiar with when Netherlands face Germany in the group encounter, which is sure to be a fierce match up between 2 international football rivals.
Many see the Dutch defense as their weak link. The Netherlands captain, Mark Van Bommel is as solid as a rock and will assist the defense cutting out attacks from the opposition while also protecting the creative midfielders. At the age of 35 he is still widely admired and his experience will play a pivotal role in the team.
While aiming for the championship, a semi-final place will probably be the minimum expectation but with the group they have before them, 'Oranje' will need to hit the ground running. If Netherlands can show the resilience they had at the 2010 World Cup along with utilising the abundance of talent they have before them in creativity and firepower they can go all the way, but it will not be an easy road and they will need to be disciplined defensively. The "nearly men" will be eager to avoid another moment of heart break and would like to make the present "Oranje" as well as the future...
HOW FAR DO YOU THINK THE NETHERLANDS WILL GO? HAVE YOUR SAY!
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