Euro 2012 Preview Netherlands
Just behind Germany and Spain, the third favourites for Euro 2012 are the Netherlands. Most bookies have the Dutch around 13/2 to win in Poland and Ukraine. This is the third in our series of blogs profiling the top contenders for Euro 2012.
As ever with the Dutch national side there is a touch of schizophrenia at its heart. An internal conflict between the total football ideals of previous generations and the new pragmatism of coach Bert van Marwijk.
The reputation the Dutch gained for brutality after their World Cup final with Spain was always exaggerated. It was also in huge contrast to the Dutch of old who played creative chaos orchestrated by Johann Cruyff.
These two Dutch mentalities are at war in the side; the creative and the practical. Nigel De Jong and Mark van Bommel make up a defensive duo in midfield that adds stolidity and defensive strength but is a slap in the face to those who crave the midfield creativity of the past.
But scoring 37 goals in 10 qualification games is an indication the creativity has not been completely abandoned. 37 goals is also the number Robin van Persie scored in a remarkable personal season. He will spearhead the Oranje attack; so fans of Dutch flair shouldn’t be too despondent going into Euro 2012.
More creativity: few players are as intoxicating to watch as Arjen Robben. When he is flowing there are few sights like it in World football. But his recent missed penalty in the Champions League final against his old side Chelsea, including his bottled chances in the last World Cup final, mean Robben must rise to the occasion in Poland and Ukraine or have his reputation permanently marred by losing his head in the big moments.
As ever there is a schizophrenia inherent within the Dutch side. The creative and the practical are locked in an internal battle. But sometimes moments of genius come from such battles. If the stars align and Dutch practicality and creativity can somehow work together; the Netherlands will be triumphant on July 1.
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