Willy van de Kerkhof: Netherlands will beat Spain and win Euro 2012

The Dutch legend has listed his countrymen as the champions of the summer tournament and insists Poland are the competition's dark horses ahead of the opening game

Former Netherlands and PSV midfielder Willy van de Kerkhof believes Bert van Marwijk’s side will beat Spain in Euro 2012 and win the competition.

The Dutch are one of the favourites to win the tournament but are drawn alongside Germany, Portugal and Denmark in the ‘group of death’, but the 60-year-old believes the Oranje have what it takes to be progress from the group and win their first international title since 1988.

Van de Kerkhof, who made 63 appearances for Netherlands, feels the squad have improved since their defeat at the hands of Spain in the 2010 World Cup and he is confident that the result will be different if the two sides meet again this summer.

13/1 Robin van Persie is 13/1 with bet365 to score the only goal in a 1-0 victory for the Netherlands over Denmark on Saturday.

When asked by NU Sport how far he thinks Netherlands will progress in the tournament, Van de Kerkhof replied: “Until the final. I think the Netherlands will meet Spain again and this time we will win. Oranje are a much better and more mature team than they were two years ago. Ibrahim Afellay, for example, has developed since the World Cup."

The PSV legend also aired his opinion on the defensive crisis coach Van Marwijk faces after it was revealed that centre-back Joris Mathijsen will not be available for his side’s first game of the tournament against Denmark.

“Wilfred Bouma [should replace Mathijsen]. He has the experience and played well in the warm-up matches. After him, Ron Vlaar is the best option.”

Van de Kerkhof added that he believes co-hosts Poland can be Euro 2012’s surprise package and expects them to defeat Greece in Friday’s opener.

“Poland has a good team and could surprise the European Championship. The Greeks don’t have a strong team, certainly not compared to the team of 2004 which was crowned European champions.”

Poland face Greece in the first game of the competition this evening at 18.00 CET.