Things are not looking good for the Oranje after their surprising loss in Saturday's opener against Denmark, but there are plenty of similarities with their last Euro success
By Floris Koekenbier
One of the favourites to lift the trophy ahead of the tournament, Netherlands now find themselves on the verge of elimination after only one game. The similarities with Holland's only successful European Championship in 1988 keep the Dutch optimistic about their chances of going all the way at Euro 2012, though.
It's by no means a guarantee for success, but Oranje can at least look to history for inspiration ahead of their clash with Germany on Wednesday. Goal.com has compiled the remarkable similarities between this campaign and the Dutch side's greatest hour.
|REPUBLIC OF IRELAND QUALIFY
Just like in 1988, Republic of Ireland are once more present at the European Championship. The Irish had never made it to the Euros until the tournament in West Germany 24 years ago, and the Boys in Green went into the competition as one of the outsiders for the title. The majority of national team coach Jack Charlton's men were plying their trade in the English top flight at the time, as is the case with the current squad.
Ireland have since been unable to qualify for a European Championship until this year. Perhaps Giovanni Trapattoni's men can once more inspire the Dutch national team as they aim to win their second European title. The four-leaf clover is a symbol of Ireland for a reason.
|A 2-1 PRE-TOURNAMENT LOSS TO BULGARIA
The Dutch national team locked horns with Bulgaria ahead of Euro 2012, just like they had done prior to Euro 1988. The Bulgarians had proved unable to qualify for the tournament in West Germany, and appeared to be the perfect opponent to give the Oranje a pre-competition boost. Things did not go to plan, though, as Holland were beaten 2-1. Jan Wouters gave the Netherlands the lead, but two late goals from the guests eventually resulted in a loss for Rinus Michels' men.
Bulgaria again failed to qualify for the European Championship this summer, meaning that the Oranje would face an opponent that was by no means in top form as several players were no longer training with their respective clubs. Holland again grabbed the lead in the international friendly courtesy of a Robin van Persie strike but Bulgaria fought back after the interval and netted twice to record yet another 2-1 victory over one of the tournament favourites.
|THE STRIKER DEBATE
It's driving Bert van Marwijk crazy; the eternal discussion about who should start up front for the Oranje continues. Questions about Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie generally result in an angry look.
There was plenty of discussion about the No.9 position in 1988 as well, although the debate was more concerned with injury worries than players' form and ability. John Bosman featured from the start in the opening game against Soviet Union, with Marco van Basten watching the game from the bench. The AC Milan striker would come on as a substitute later on but couldn't turn the game around, just as Huntelaar was unable to level the scoring against Denmark.
Van Basten had been plagued by a number of injuries ahead of the tournament in 1988, and therefore started the match versus Soviet Union from the bench. San Marco's last injury before the European Championship was a cheekbone injury and a black eye. Coincidence or not, Huntelaar also arrived at the Oranje's training camp sporting a black eye. Van Basten netted a hat-trick in Holland's second match versus England and the Dutch will hope for a repeat from Huntelaar on Wednesday.
|ORANJE WASTE CHANCES AND LOSE OPENER
Just like in 1988, Netherlands dominated the play in their opening game. However, the Oranje's attackers failed to find the net in Kharkiv, as did the midfielders and defenders. Things were not going Holland's way against Denmark, and a moment of individual brilliance from Michael Krohn-Dehli cost Van Marwijk's team the match.
In 1988, Vasily Rats was the man who shot down the Dutch. The Russian midfielder beat Holland goalkeeper Hans van Breukelen with a shot from outside the area to hand his side the lead and while the Soviet Union didn't create many more chances, the one goal they got proved enough as the Netherlands failed to find a reply.
Holland would settle the score in the final as they beat Valeri Lobanovsky's men 2-0 thanks to goals from Ruud Gullit and Van Basten. The Oranje will be aiming to repeat those heroics in the next three weeks.