2008 Netherlands Euro Soccer Preview
by Doc's Sports - 05/07/2008
Euro 2008's so called 'Group of Death' begins with Holland. The Dutch are a very intriguing team in this tournament, and a true sleeper to make some real noise this summer. Manager Marco van Basten, the former footballer of the year and Holland striker, has coached his country since 2004, but has made his intentions clear off stepping down when his contract expires after the tournament.
Netherlands had success in Euro 2004 with the Dutch reaching the semifinals but failing to advance beyond that round to hosts Portugal. Then headman Dick Advocaat stepped down after the loss due to heavy criticism and van Basten was appointed new manger by the country's football association.
Holland followed up their Euro 2004 run with another disappointing loss to Portugal in the second round of World Cup 2006. As one of the more notable matches in Germany, it was dubbed 'the Battle of Nuremberg' for the harsh play and record four red cards.
Euro 2008 qualifying was a success, but Netherlands were forced to accept the runners-up position in Group G to upstart Romania. These same two top finishers in said Group G are now matched up with Italy and France in arguably the most difficult group play draw to begin this summer's tournament.
Golden Player Watch - Edwin van der Sar, GK
Holland has an everlasting group of skill position players, but the most important individual for the potential success is goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar. Top cap man in the country's history with 123, van der Sar is regarded as the finest between the woodwork. His form is again top level, helping to lead club team Manchester United to the top of the Premiership and a spot in this year's UEFA Champions League final in Moscow vs. Chelsea on May 21.
Reason Why They Will Advance to Elimination Round
Group C is deadly, and that's why it shouldn't be a surprise to see any two of the four nations advance to the final eight. Italy, France and Netherlands are all ranked in the top 10 in the current FIFA World Rankings, and Romania continues to climb as well with their 12 spot.
Comparative in talent to the likes of Italy and France, it could be as close as a coin flip to figure out which one of these top football nations will advance. It will come down to who executes and puts the ball into the net. When you look at young playmakers such as Ryan Babel, Wesley Sneijder and Robin van Persie, not to mention the experience of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Dirk Kuyt, it's not hard to envision foreseeable success from Clockwork Orange.
Group Play Schedule
Netherlands vs. Italy - June 9
Germany vs. France - June 13
Germany vs. Romania - June 17