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Euro 2012 Route to the Final - Are Holland really the winners of Euro 2012?
Euro 2012 Approaches
With Euro 2012 right around the corner we have seen the form that the teams are in leading up the tournament in Austria and Switzerland.
Recently we have seen a bunch of friendly games and we can deduce a few things from the games.
One thing to keep in mind is that pre-tournament friendlies do not always end up being indicative of what will happen once the tournament actually starts. For example, soccer fans with a sharp memory will remember that Holland and Greece had a friendly match in the lead up to Euro 2004.
Holland demolished Greece 4-0 in the friendly. I can't imagine the Greek fans were feeling too optomistic about their chances in the tournament as the referee blew his whistle to end that match.
Yet, Holland went on to lose in the semi finals of that tournament (2-1 to hosts Portugal) while Greece went all the way to final, beating Portugal in the opening match of the tournament as well as the closing match, securing their first major trophy win ever.
So while we can see indicators from the friendies, they are not definitive and anything can happen once the tournament kicks off.
Here are some interesting notes from some key teams based on their recent friendly performance.
Netherlands - The Oranje Troupe
Some say the Dutch look more like a dance troupe then a football club when they are firing on all cylinders. But do they have the stability to win Euro 2012?
Yet there is still a tiny bit of inconsistency that has plagued them during the major tournaments.
Holland lost to Portugal in the round of 16 at the world cup of 2006, an opponent who they will face again for the first time since that defeat. Holland find themselves in the group of death with Germany, Portugal and Denmark.
At the last Euro tornament, Holland were also in the group of death. While not being tipped to make it past the group stage, the Dutch defeated then world champions Italy, smashing them in a 3-0 rout, followed by a strong armed 4-1 victory of then world runner's up France. They didn't stop there, beating Romania 2-0 in a dead rubber match.
Yet after these impressive results, Holland went on to lose to Russia, a challenge which seemed less daunting then the ones they had won only days earlier.
Holland have gained much respect since their World Cup campaign of 2010, where they raced to the final undefeated, leaving a slew of big names in the dust as they knocked 5 time world cup champions Brazil out of the tournament in a come from behind 2-1 victory, and also defeating a tough Uruguay in the semi finals. The final, which could have gone either way, saw the Netherlands lose their third world cup final appearnece.
In the qualification for Euro 2012, Holland scored more goals then any other team. Holland have EPL top scorer Van Persie in their forward line- yet amazingly he is not their top scoring foward- that honor goes to Klaas jan Huntelaar.
The firepower up front is impressive and it was on display in their most recent friendly against Northern Ireland, where Holland smashed home 6 goals and won the match 6-0 in what will be their last friendly before the tournament kicks off.
Verdict: Holland are strong- but their group stage will be no easy task. A slip up against Denmark or Portugal will see them go home. They are currently favorites to beat both Denmark and Portugal and if they can do it, they will automatically progress. Holland have the ability to top the group with 3 wins.. the only question is whether they will be on their game or not.