It is 20 years since Holland won the one major title in their footballing history, and many believe they finally have a squad talented and united enough to replicate their success in Germany back in 1988. Marco van Basten knows a thing or two about what it takes to score goals at the top level and he is lucky enough to be able to select from a talented array of attackers.
The Dutch legend recently switched from playing with a three-man attack, to a 4-2-3-1 system at the request of his players. Despite the emergence of the prolific Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Ruud van Nistelrooy is used as a target man and he is supplemented by three offensive minded midfielders. For those positions, Van Basten can choose from the likes of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Rafael van der Vaart.
Van Persie and Robben have been plagued by injury over the past two years, but have returned to fitness as their respective domestic seasons drew to a close, and their freshness could be significant as the tournament reaches its climax. With Sneijder and Van der Vaart providing the ammunition behind, the Dutch will no doubt provide excellent viewing. But doubts remain about their defensive solidity.
The international retirements of Phillip Cocu and Mark van Bommel have left them short of a strong physical enforcer in midfield. Demy de Zeeuw is likely to fill that role, but he has suffered a disappointing season with AZ, while at the back, doubts linger over the suitability of Joris Mathijsen to the rigours of top-level international football.
The draw has been far from kind to Van Basten, with world champions Italy, double European Championship winners France and Romania, who they finished runners-up to in qualification, set to provide stiff competition. After reaching the semi-final four years ago, and with a squad seemingly united, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Dutch making a major impression at Euro 2008.
Netherlands Euro 2008 Squad
Head coach: Marco van Basten
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