The Dutch surprised few people when they nearly took down the Spanish side in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. With Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie running the show, Holland was able to stay par with Spain until a late goal by Spain gave them the victory. Two years later, they are looking to put their mark in Ukraine and Poland. The question is, can they pull win Euro 2012?
Unfortunately for Dutch fans, it could be harder than they think. Netherlands happens to be in Group B, which is the ill fated “Group of Death.” With the #2 ranked team in the world, Germany, #5 Portugal, and #10 Denmark (Holland is #4), this is going to be no easy group to make it out of. Even if they make it out, they will most likely either face #11 Russia or #14 Greece in the quarterfinals.
I was able to get a glimpse of the Netherlands a few days ago when they played a friendly against FC Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga. Sure, it was just a friendly, but their lack of defense was appalling. With Franck Ribéry, Toni Kroos, and even Phillip Lahm running loose, the Dutch side was outplayed. Sure, they were missing some starters, but you would hope that their possible backups would have played better.
Offensively, they were able to create a decent amount of scoring chances, but never were able to get many corners. Sure, Robben did not enter until the 80th minute, but, again, you would hope backups would be capable of at least threatening Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer.
I think the front runner of this group will be the German side. Two years ago, had it not been for a very questionable call, Thomas Müller would have played in the semifinals against Spain at the World Cup, and just maybe that game would have been different. I believe Cristiano Ronaldo will play better than his one goal performance at the World Cup, and I think the Portuguese will “upset” (if you can call a 4 vs 5 matchup that) the Netherlands in the final game of their group stage.
The dark horse here could be the Danish side. With this group probably not decided until the last game, they could surprise everyone and move into the round of 8. A well rounded team, they will have their work cut out from them, but any team that underestimates them for even a second will quickly find out they are more than capable of doing damage this year.
With just nine days until it kicks off, there isn’t long to wait to find out if Netherlands can win it all, but it will be harder than many think.