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HOW THEY QUALIFIED

  GROUP E GP GD PTS
1 Netherlands (Q)       10 9 0 1 29 27
2 Sweden (Q) 10 8 0 2 20 24
3 Hungary 10 6 1 3 8 19
4 Finland 10 3 1 6 0 10
5 Moldova 10 3 0 7 -4 9
6 San Marino           10 0 0 10 -53 0


RESULTS TOP SCORERS
Sep 3, 2010: San Marino 0-5 Netherlands
Sep 7, 2010: Netherlands 2-1 Finland
Oct 8, 2010: Moldova 0-1 Netherlands
Oct 12, 2010: Netherlands 4-1 Sweden
Mar 25, 2011:  Hungary 0-4 Netherlands
March 29, 2011: Netherlands 5-3 Hungary
Sep 2, 2011: Netherlands 11-0 San Marino
Sep 6, 2011: Finland 0-2 Netherlands
Oct 7, 2011: Netherlands 1-0 Moldova
Oct 11, 2011: Sweden 3-2 Netherlands
12 - Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
6 - Robin van Persie,
Dirk Kuyt
3 - Ibrahim Afellay, Wesley Sneijder
2 - Ruud van Nistelrooy
1 - John Heitinga,
Rafael van der Vaart, Kevin Strootman, Georginio Wijnaldum,
Luuk de Jong

Hardly two months after their loss against Spain in the 2010 World Cup final, Holland returned to competitive action and Oranje clearly struggled to shake off the disappointment of missing out on their first World Cup title in history.

Nevertheless, after three unimpressive victories, the Dutch were back to their best as they put in breathtaking performances against Sweden and Hungary (twice) to make it clear that they are a force to be reckoned with in Poland and Ukraine.

A record win over San Marino and routine victories against Finland and Moldova were enough to book their ticket for Euro 2012 before they lost their unbeaten status in the away match versus Sweden.

PAST RECORD IN THE EUROS 

1960
Did not enter
1988
Winners
1964
Did not qualify 1992
Semi-finalists
1968
Did not qualify
1996
Quarter-finalists
1972
Did not qualify 2000
Semi-finalists
1976
Semi-finalists 2004
Semi-finalists
1980
Group stage
2008
Quarter-finalists
1984
Did not qualify 2012
Qualified as group winners

The Netherlands were hardly a top team in the early years of the European Championships and didn't make their first appearance until 1976. After their debut, where they made it to the semi-finals, Oranje have been regulars though and they haven't missed out since 1984.

Holland's biggest success came in 1988 when they beat England, Republic of Ireland, Germany and Soviet Union to win their only major tournament in history. Perhaps a good omen for the Dutch, like in 1988, Ireland will be present again in 2012 as well for only the second time ever.

Although they have come close on a number of occasions since, the Netherlands have never been able to repeat their success from 1988 again, despite making it to the semi-finals three times.

THE MANAGER | BERT VAN MARWIJK


Van Marwijk replaced Marco van Basten as national team coach after Euro 2008 and has so far done everything right that his predecessor did not. No longer are one or two good performances at club level enough for a call-up as the Holland boss expects his players to perform consistently at a high level and every player knows exactly what is expected of him.

Whereas in the past, it was only a matter of time before internal conflicts would ruin the harmony within the team, under Van Marwijk there have not been any conflicts. Stars such as Robin van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong have all been warming the bench recently, but never publicly complained, something that is largely down to Van Marwijk's excellent man management.

His somewhat conservative, yet strict, approach has proven to be the way to go for this Dutch team as Oranje have won 23 out of their 25 competitive games under Van Marwijk, a stunning 92 per cent winning record.

THE CAPTAIN | MARK VAN BOMMEL


The influential midfielder didn't make a single appearance for Oranje from July 2006 until August 2008 because of a conflict with then national team coach Van Basten, but made his long awaited comeback the moment the Euro '88 hero left his position.

Van Bommel has since developed into a key player for the Netherlands and has been the engine that keeps the machine running in the past few years.

The player, who has annoucned he is leaving AC Milan to return to PSV, formed a superb partnership with Nigel de Jong as Holland's defensive midfielders at the 2010 World Cup and Van Bommel's intelligent movement, aggressive tackling, superb vision and leadership skills make him the first name on Van Marwijk's list ahead of every game.

THE STAR PLAYER | WESLEY SNEIJDER


Sneijder has already made over 80 international appearances for the Netherlands since making his debut in April 2003 and the Inter playmaker is the 2010 World Cup finalists' undisputed star player at the moment.

The former Ajax and Real Madrid man is at the heart of every Dutch attack and his accurate long passes and intelligent through balls make life difficult for every defence, while Sneijder is a major threat from set-pieces and long-range strikes, too.

With 24 international goals, he has found the net more often than any other midfielder in the history of Dutch football and his finishing in Oranje has been top class in the past two seasons. With five goals in seven games, Sneijder was joint top scorer at the 2010 World Cup.

THE EMERGING TALENT | KEVIN STROOTMAN


The left-footed midfielder still plied his trade in the Dutch second tier in December 2010, but Strootman has enjoyed a rapid rise since.

He earned himself a transfer to Utrecht in January 2011 and made his official Oranje debut barely one month later in the international friendly against Austria. That was not the end of Strootman's impressive rise to prominence though as he joined Dutch giants PSV in the summer of 2011 and has since developed into the Eindhoven side's vice-captain.

Van Marwijk is a keen admirer of Strootman and the youngster is a serious candidate to start alongside Van Bommel in midfield, ahead of established stars such as Van der Vaart and Nigel de Jong.


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