Team Profile: The men in orange, known as Oranje to their adoring fans, will be hoping to go one step further than their last campaign in a major tournament, which saw them placed second after Spain in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Images of Nigel de Jong’s karate-style kick on Xabi Alonso will no doubt resurface should the two teams meet again this summer, but the Dutch side aren’t just about physical strength and brawn, qualifying for Euro 2012 with a game to spare, netting more than any other team in the process (including an incredible 11 times at home against San Marino). The Netherlands certainly look like they’re ready to go all the way this year, adding to the only piece of silverware they’ve picked up in 40 years in the top flight of international competitive football, which they earned way back in 1988, when they won the European Championships. But first they’ll have to get through the group stage, where they face formidable opponents Germany and Portugal. It’s going to be mouthwatering stuff.
Coach: Bert Van Marwijk
While van Marwijk’s international career as a player never took off, playing for Holland just once in 1975, his record at managerial level got off to a flying start when he took over from Marco van Basten after Euro 2008. The former left winger exceeded expectations by leading the Dutch to the 2010 World Cup final, following flawless qualification. His pragmatic, physical approach to the game against Spain drew considerable criticism, but there’s no denying the confidence he has instilled in his players, who will want to prove themselves once more in June.
Player to watch: Robin van Persie
The Arsenal captain will have to beat off competition from striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar if he is to spearhead the Netherlands' preferred 4-2-3-1 formation. But there's no denying that Van Persie has been on fire this season, scoring 30 league goals for the Gunners, earning him the Golden Boot award. RVP made his senior national debut in 2005 and already has 62 caps and 25 international goals. He was part of the squad that lost the 2010 World Cup final, so he’ll be keen to make amends.
FIFA World Ranking: 4
UEFA Euro Ranking: 8
Number of Euro appearances: 12
Previous best: Winners in 1988
Qualification: Winners of Group E – 37 goals scored, 8 goals against, 83 attempts on target, 63 corners
Form (qualifying): WWWWWWWWWL
Fixtures: June 9 vs. Denmark; June 13 vs. Germany; June 17 vs. Portugal