Group B: Netherlands Ã¢ÂÂ Together As One, For Now
The Back of the Net team's countdown to Euro 2012 continues with Paul Watson on Group B's top seeds, those ever-interesting men from the Netherlands...
This yearÃ¢ÂÂs qualification campaign boasted 80% fewer inter-squad homicides than ever before and thereÃ¢ÂÂs a new united spirit under coach Bert van Marwijk, whose side will look to carve a blood-soaked path to glory.
HollandÃ¢ÂÂs sole trophy to date is the 1988 European Championship. Since then, the Dutch have often fallen short on the biggest stage, held back by a lack of team spirit that regularly manifests itself in training ground arguments, on-field shouting matches and occasional acts of ultra-violence between teammates.
In Euro 96, captain Danny Blind celebrated each of EnglandÃ¢ÂÂs four goals in a 4-1 defeat, even performing a provocative solo rumba dance in front of a downbeat Edwin Van der Sar. Euro 2008Ã¢ÂÂs quarter-final loss to Russia was widely blamed on defenders Andre Oijer and Joris Mathijsen, who spent much of extra-time penning scathing letters to De Telegraaf about each other.
Euro 2012 chances
These days there is a new spirit of harmony in the camp. Bert van Marwijk is the coach behind this revolution, gradually moulding a flamboyant powder-keg of a side into a solid, no-nonsense outfit. Deadly on the counter-attack, in defence they roam in small packs, picking out potential targets in the opposition side and lynching them.
The new-look Holland reached the final of the 2010 World Cup but lost out to Spain despite a series of tackles that had to be censored in most European countries, including Nigel de Jong kicking Xabi AlonsoÃ¢ÂÂs head clean off.
Unsurprisingly, the 2012 kit is orange. Dutch fans are required by law to wear orange during matches. In fact at Euro 2008 a lone supporter wearing a shirt that was closer to scarlet was later tracked down by secret services and deported.
Did You Know?
The Dutch have the oldest anthem in the world, Wilhelmus. Penned in 1574, itÃ¢ÂÂs about William of OrangeÃ¢ÂÂs bid to liberate Holland from Spanish control. Although it runs to around 15 minutes in total, at sporting occasions only the first and sixth stanzas are sung, cutting out the unpopular second, third, fourth and fifth verses which are an aside about a tasty breakfast in Dordrecht.
More from Back of the Net
Group A: Poland Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Russia Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Greece Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Czech Republic
Group B: Netherlands Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Germany Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Portugal Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Denmark
Group C: Spain Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Italy Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Croatia Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Republic of Ireland
Group D: Ukraine Ã¢ÂÂ¢ England Ã¢ÂÂ¢ France Ã¢ÂÂ¢ Sweden