Netherlands - Profile
The Netherlands national football team is the national football team of the Netherlands and is controlled by the Royal Netherlands Football Association (KNVB).
It won Euro '88 and reached two consecutive World Cup finals in 1974 and 1978, but lost both finals to their respective host nations, West Germany and Argentina. At the peak of its success in the 1970s, the team was famous for its mastery of Total Football and was nicknamed Clockwork Oranje for its precision passing. In many countries and even the Netherlands itself, the team is colloquially referred to as Holland.
Dutch squad for their first international matchThe Netherlands played their first international match in Antwerp against Belgium on 30 April 1905 and won 4–1.
The Netherlands made their first appearance at the World Cup final tournament in 1934, and after coming back in 1938, the Dutch national team entered the wilderness of world football.
Not until a shift to a national league and full professionalism in the 1950s did the fortunes of the Netherlands improve at both club and international level. In the 1958 World Cup qualifiers, they finished two points behind Austria, having lost 3–2 in Vienna after leading 2–0. The team saw continuous improvement throughout the 1960s.
They came out of this wilderness in the 1970s with the invention of Total Football (Dutch: Totaalvoetbal), pioneered by Ajax and led by playmaker Johan Cruyff and national team coach Rinus Michels. The Dutch made huge strides, qualifying for two World Cup finals in the decade.
The Dutch team before their 2–1 loss to West Germany in the final of the 1974 World Cup. In 1974, the Netherlands beat both Brazil and Argentina in the second group stage, reaching the final for the first time in their history.
However, the team lost to West Germany in the final in Munich, despite having gone 1–0 up through Johan Neeskens' early penalty kick before any German had even touched the ball.
The Dutch were trying to embarrass the Germans at home while they were only up 1–0. This would prove their undoing.
Supported by the crowd, a converted penalty by Paul Breitner and the late game-winner from Gerd Müller led to a victory for the Germans. In spite of losing the final, the Clockwork Oranje and Johan Cruyff had already written a new page in football's history.
By comparison, Euro '76 was a disappointment. The Netherlands lost in the semi-finals to Czechoslovakia, as much because of fighting within the squad and the coach George Knobel, as well as the skill of the eventual winners.
In 1978, the Netherlands again reached the final of a World Cup, only to be again beaten by the hosts, Argentina. This side played without Johan Cruyff, Willem van Hanegem, and Jan van Beveren, who refused to participate in the World Cup.
It still contained players such as Johan Neeskens, Johnny Rep, Arie Haan, Ruud Krol and Rob Rensenbrink from the 1974 selection.
This time the Netherlands were less impressive in the group stages, as they qualified only as runners-up, after a draw with Peru and a loss to Scotland.
In the second group phase, however, the Netherlands topped a group including Italy and West Germany, setting up a final with Argentina. However, the Dutch finished as runners up for the second World Cup in a row as they ultimately lost 3–1 after two extra time goals from Argentina.
Agonisingly for the Dutch, Rensenbrink hit the Argentinian post in the last minute of normal time, with the score 1–1.
Euro '80 was the last tournament that the generation of Total Football qualified for, but they did not advance past the group stage, despite the tournament format being expanded that year. Veterans such as Krol and Rensenbrink retired soon afterwards and the Netherlands missed the 1982 World Cup, Euro '84, and the 1986 World Cup in succession.
Rinus Michels returned to coach the team for the Euro '88 tournament. After losing the first group match against the Soviet Union (1–0), the Netherlands went on to qualify for the semifinal by defeating England 3–1 (with a hat-trick by the tournament's top scorer Marco van Basten), and Republic of Ireland (1–0).
For many Dutch football supporters, the most important match in the tournament was the semifinal against West Germany, the host country, considered a revenge for the lost 1974 World Cup final (also in West Germany).
Marco van Basten, who would later become national team coach, scored in the 89th minute of the game to sink the German side.
The game is also remembered for its post-match shenanigans, including Ronald Koeman, who, in front of the German supporters, provocatively pretended to wipe his backside with the shirt of Olaf Thon as if it were toilet paper, an action Koeman later regretted.
The Netherlands won the final with a convincing victory over the USSR, a rematch on the round robin game, through a header by Ruud Gullit and a volley by van Basten.
This was the national team's first major tournament win and it restored them to the forefront of international football after almost a decade in the wilderness for almost three years to come.
Despite high expectations as the team entered the 1990 World Cup, that tournament was not a success.
Van Basten failed to score, as he was frequently marked by opposing defenders, while Gullit was ineffective having not fully recovered from injury.
The Dutch managed to advance despite drawing all three group games, meeting their arch-rivals West Germany in the round of 16. The match is most remembered for the spitting-incident involving Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Völler as the Netherlands lost 2–1.
The team subsequently reached the semifinals in the Euro '92, which was noted for the emergence of Dennis Bergkamp, but they were eliminated by eventual champions Denmark, with Van Basten's kick in the penalty shootout being saved by Peter Schmeichel. This was also van Basten's last major tournament, as he retired shortly after due to injury.
In the 1994 World Cup, Dennis Bergkamp led the team with three goals and the Netherlands advanced to the quarterfinals, where they lost 3–2 to eventual champions Brazil.
1998 WORLD CUP AND EURO 2000
Dutch supportersAt Euro '96, after drawing 0–0 with Scotland and beating Switzerland 2–0, they faced the hosts England in the pool A decider, with both teams on 4 points.
After 62 minutes, with Scotland beating Switzerland 1–0, the Netherlands were 4–0 down and looked like finishing third behind Scotland on goal difference and going out of the tournament, but Patrick Kluivert converted a Dennis Bergkamp assist and scored in the 78th minute to see the Dutch finish second on goals scored.
They then played France in the quarterfinals, drawing 0–0 and being eliminated 5–4 on penalties.
In the 1998 World Cup, Netherlands, whose team included Marc Overmars, Phillip Cocu, Edgar Davids, Frank de Boer, Ronald de Boer, and Patrick Kluivert, met Argentina in the quarterfinal, a rematch of the 1978 final.
Near the end of regular time, after an unsuccessful dive to draw a penalty, Argentinian Ariel Ortega head-butted Edwin van der Sar.
Ortega was sent off and the Netherlands won 2–1 after a Bergkamp goal in the 89th minute.
Bergkamp's goal was famous because of its quality — he touched down a 60-yard (55 m) pass from Frank de Boer then reverse-flicked it inside Roberto Ayala and finally volleyed it past the Argentine goalkeeper.
In the semifinal, the Netherlands took Brazil to a penalty shootout after a late Kluivert goal tied the match 1–1, but Brazil won the shootout 4–2 and advanced to the final. Netherlands lost the third place match 2–1 to upstart Croatia.
Netherlands co-hosted Euro 2000 with Belgium and were one of the favourites coming into the tournament.
Getting all three wins in the group stage, including a win over reigning World Cup champions France, they then crushed Yugoslavia 6–1 in the quarterfinals, with Kluivert getting a hat-trick.
In the semifinals, their opponents, Italy, went down to ten men in the first half and the Netherlands were awarded two penalty kicks but failed to convert either chance. Italian goalkeeper Francesco Toldo made two saves in the shootout (in addition to his penalty saves in regulation time) to eliminate the Netherlands.
Coach Frank Rijkaard was widely criticized by the press as the Dutch had squandered several chances to kill the game and he resigned, with Louis van Gaal taking over.
Dennis Bergkamp retired from the national team after Euro 2000, having failed to score during the tournament.
Netherlands at the 2006 World CupNetherlands failed to qualify for the 2002 World Cup, with crucial losses to Portugal and the Republic of Ireland, the latter of which eliminated them from the Finals tournament.
Van Gaal resigned at the conclusion of the Netherlands' unsuccessful campaign.
Netherlands reached the semifinals of Euro 2004 but lost to Portugal. Coach Dick Advocaat was criticized for his tactics and player changes and stepped down after the tournament.
Also, many of the team's World Cup veterans like Frank and Ronald de Boer, Edgar Davids, Clarence Seedorf, Marc Overmars, Jaap Stam, and Patrick Kluivert had either retired or were not selected for the upcoming World Cup by new coach Marco van Basten.
The Netherlands qualified for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and finished second in Group C after beating Serbia & Montenegro (1–0) and the Côte d'Ivoire (2–1) and drawing Argentina (0–0).
Both Argentina and the Netherlands finished the group stage with seven points, but the Argentinians had a superior goal difference and finished first as a result.
The Dutch were eliminated in the second round after losing 1–0 to Portugal, in a match that produced 16 yellow cards (which matched the World Cup record for most cautions in one game set in 2002) and set a new World Cup record of four red cards (two for either side) and was nicknamed "the Battle of Nuremberg" by the press.
Despite criticism surrounding his selection policy and the lack of attacking football from his team, Marco van Basten was offered a two-year extension to his contract by the Dutch FA, which would allow him to serve as national coach during Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup.
The move was widely regarded as a vote of confidence in van Basten and his assistants by the KNVB officials.
The Netherlands began their Euro 2008 campaign with a win in Luxembourg on 2 September 2006. On 8 September 2007, the Oranje beat Bulgaria at the Amsterdam ArenA on goals by Wesley Sneijder and Ruud van Nistelrooy.
On 12 September 2007, the Netherlands won a hard fought victory against Albania, with van Nistelrooy scoring the winning goal in stoppage time.
This win took the Dutch squad into second place in Group G, on par with Romania for points, but behind on goal differential.
The Oranje were beaten 1–0 in Romania on 13 October 2007, but four days later, the Netherlands' 2–0 victory over Slovenia, while rivals Bulgaria could only draw in Albania, left the Dutch needing one win from their last two games, at home to Luxembourg and away to Belarus, to qualify for Euro 2008.
The Netherlands played their first game in 2008 against Croatia in Split.
The team, without Ruud van Nistelrooy, Robin van Persie, Clarence Seedorf, Orlando Engelaar, and Arjen Robben, won the match 3–0.
The first goal was scored by John Heitinga on a header, while Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored the second goal on an assist from Tim de Cler.
The final goal came from Celtic striker Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. The team used a new formation under Marco van Basten, scrapping the previously used 4–3–3 formation for a 4–2–3–1.
The Dutch team was a participant in the "Group of Death", together with France, Italy, and Romania.
They began Euro 2008 with a 3–0 win over World Cup Champion Italy in Berne on 9 June 2008.
This was the Netherlands' first victory over Italy since 1978. In their second group match against France on 13 June 2008, the Netherlands won convincingly with a 4–1 score.
The Dutch closed out an incredible group stage campaign with a 2–0 win over Romania. However, they lost in the quarterfinal to former coach Guus Hiddink's Russia by 3–1, despite a late 86th minute equaliser by Ruud van Nistelrooy. The Russians ended the Dutch run with two goals in extra time.
2010 WORLD CUP QUALIFICATION
The Dutch team went on to secure a 100 percent record in their qualification campaign,winning all of their eight games and becoming the first European team to book their tickets for SA 2010.
The World Cup Draw in Cape Town on the 4th of December, 2009 saw the Dutch being placed alongside Denmark, Cameroon and Japan in Group E.
World Cup record:
Previous appearances in finals: Eight
Best performance: Runners-up 1974, 1978
Coach: Bert van Marwijk. Succeeded Marco van Basten in July 2008. Van Marwijk started his coaching career with Fortuna Sittard and led the team to the 1999 Dutch Cup final. In 2000 he joined Feyenoord and won the Uefa Cup in 2002. After a spell at Borussia Dortmund, Van Marwijk returned to Feyenoord in July 2007 and won the Dutch Cup in 2008.
Robin van Persie (Arsenal): Age: 26. Forward.
Versatile player who is used mainly as a winger in the national team and as a central striker at Arsenal. Played all four matches at the 2006 World Cup finals and scored a superb free kick in the second group-stage match against Ivory Coast.
Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich). Age: 32. Midfielder.
Experienced holding midfielder, son in law of coach Van Marwijk and captain of Bayern, he played three matches in the 2006 finals. Decided briefly not to play under previous coach Van Basten. Brings much-needed balance to the team.
Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool). Age: 29. Forward.
Can play centrally or as a winger. Praised by his coaches for his determination, physical fitness and bustling approach. A true team player.
Fifa world ranking Nov 2009: 3rd
How they qualified:
Netherlands won all eight matches in their group against Scotland, Norway, Macedonia and Iceland, scoring 17 goals and conceding two.
The Dutch are expected to go through from the group stages and then much will depend on the physical fitness of players like Van Persie and Arjen Robben. Have the potential to win the trophy.
2010 World Cup squad
Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Sander Boschker (FC Twente), Michel Vorm (FC Utrecht); Khalid Boulahrouz (Stuttgart), Edson Braafheid (Celtic), Giovanni van Bronckhorst (Feyenoord), John Heitinga (Everton), Joris Mathijsen (HSV), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Andre Ooijer (PSV); Mark van Bommel (Bayern Munich), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City), Stijn Schaars (AZ), Wesley Sneijder (Inter), Rafael van der Vaart (Real Madrid), Demy de Zeeuw (Ajax), Ibrahim Afellay (PSV); Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool), Eljero Elia (HSV), Ryan Babel (Liverpool), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (AC Milan), Robin van Persie (Arsenal), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich).