Euro 2012: 4 Reasons Why Holland Are Going Home Early
Holland crashed out of Euro 2012 after producing a hugely disappointing display against Portugal. The Dutch were dominated by the Portuguese for large portions of the match and have failed to perform since the start of the competition. Here are four reasons why Holland are going home early:
Two holding midfielders
He may have changed the formula for the final group game, but Bert van Marwijck's decision to field both Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong hindered the Netherlands' chances of qualification. Playing with two defensive midfielders is baffling and over-cautious.
Holland's strength is their attacking play and flair. Yet van Marwijck has placed too much emphasis on rugged physicality. The Dutch have fielded a dour system and the standard of their play has reflected that.
De Jong and van Bommel are both capable, but their strengths lie solely in defensive areas. As a nation with a stellar reputation for quality, attacking football, Holland should be featuring more forward-thinking guile in the middle of the field.
Too many individuals and not enough cohesion in attack
As much as they need creativity, the Dutch suffer from having two many players who want to be the focal point of the attack. Instead of identifying a clear point of emphasis and having others funnel the attack to that player, Holland instead have a collection of individuals, playing only for themselves.
For example, there is no room in a team for all three of Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Arjen Robben. Each demands to be the fulcrum for creativity in advanced areas. A well-balanced team only has room for one such player, supported by the energetic efforts of others.
Similarly, although there was a demand to feature both, Robin van Persie and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar cannot play together. Each is the kind of striker who thrives best when the game is tailored specifically to him. As a result the Dutch impressed in attack only sporadically and their style lacked continuity.
Not enough regeneration since 2010
They are not the only nation guilty of this, but Holland simply haven't introduced, or been prepared to gamble, on enough young talent since the 2010 World Cup. Veteran van Bommel's place in the team appeared under no threat, as did several others.
Where was PSV's highly-touted youngster Kevin Strootman, or what about a glimpse of FC Twente hotshot Luuk de Jong? Instead Holland relied largely on the familiar, safe choices. Yet sadly many of these long-established players looked like they are nearing the end and the Dutch lacked vitality as a result.
Lack of pace in defense
Defensively, the Netherlands put on a horror show at Euro 2012. One of the key reasons for their numerous calamities at the back has been an absence of true pace.
Perhaps the biggest culprit was right-back Gregory van der Wiel. A player once highly-touted, van der Wiel was abysmal from start to finish for the Dutch. Frequently caught out of position and off the pace, van der Wiel was victimised on numerous occasions.
Eighteen-year-old left-back Jetro Willems suffered his own personal nightmare, but neither full-back was really helped by a cumbersome central pairing. Joris Mathijsen was sluggish and plodding, while Everton's John Heitinga simply appeared out of his depth.
Much of what happened in Euro 2012 can be called familiar failings from the Dutch. This is not the first tournament where they have looked like a collection of individuals rather than a team.
However, the manner of this exit was particularly disappointing. They were outclassed by Portugal and many of their big name stars simply failed to perform on more than one occasion.
The Netherlands must take this opportunity to remake their national team. Sneijder and van Persie remain class players and can justify still leading the team. Yet this duo has to be joined by new and young talent, even if it means mixed results initially.
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