The Dutch head up the so-called Group of Death and as they go, this certainly a mouth-watering Group of Death – which features four teams all of whom are in the top 10 of the FIFA world rankings – Germany (2nd), Holland (4th), Portugal (5th) and Denmark (9th).
Holland’s European Championship record since winning in 1988 is as follows: three semi-final appearances and two quarter-final appearances. They were also runners-up at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, something which is talked about very little back in the homeland, as it still leaves a sour taste in Dutch mouths. It is time for the Dutch to step it up and avoid being bridesmaids once again.
What better way to make up for that World Cup final defeat than by qualifying in emphatic, rip-roaring, attacking fashion. 9 wins and 1 defeat (2-3 Sweden) with 37 goals scored in the process, suggests that the Dutch should be written off at your peril. Could revenge be on the cards in Poland-Ukraine?
It has been a season of contrasting fortunes domestically for some of Holland’s regular starters. The likes of Dirk Kuyt and Wesley Sneijder have had an indifferent season at their respective clubs. On the other hand, Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Klass-Jan Huntelaar – top scorer in qualification with 12 – have all had some of the best seasons of their careers to date and to be ready to shine.
Manager, Bert Van Marwijk has signed a new contract that will keep him in charge of the Oranje until 2016. His record as manager is certainly impressive but the Dutch certainly seem to have left their foot off the pedal since qualifying. Van Marwijk had suffered just two defeats in 41 games, but has suffered three defeats in his last five games with just one win – against in England in those five games.
In terms of a starting XI, not a lot has changed since the 2010 World Cup final; Van Marwijk could essentially name 10 of the 11 that started in that final (Giovanni van Bronkhorst has retired), with all of those 10 making the final 23-man squad and 15 of the 23 players having been in the squad at the World Cup in 2010.
Fixtures: Holland vs. Denmark (June, 9th), Holland vs. Germany (June, 13th) and Holland vs. Portugal (June, 17th)