I was less than pleased with what I saw from the Netherlands in the team's Euro 2012 warmup matches. With that said, I never expected the Dutch to make an exit out of the tournament without having earned a single point in three games. Two total goals scored, some indefensible defending and 270+ minutes of mostly forgettable football all saw Holland bounced from the European Championship far too early, leaving Dutch football fans everywhere wondering what, if anything, could have been done to prevent what was a disastrous eight days.
Netherlands Euro 2012 review: MVP
This is a hard one to select considering the 0-3 record, and the fact that Holland were thoroughly outplayed in their final two games of the competition. Such a discussion would have to include both Wesley Sneijder and Rafael Van der Vaart. I went with the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder, mostly because I felt the Dutch were a more dangerous and more complete side with Van der Vaart on the pitch. Van der Vaart, unlike Sneijder, also found the back of the net during the competition. His goal eleven minutes into the team's match with Portugal gave the Netherlands real hope for a miracle; until the Portuguese began pushing forward, that is.
Netherlands Euro 2012 review: LVP
I hate to be just another person to gang up on the guy, but it has to be Robin van Persie. RvP may have scored in the team's 2-1 loss to Germany, but he was guilty of far too many misses and poor runs in each of Holland's three Euro 2012 contests. Van Persie was hardly the only Dutch player who struggled in the attacking third. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was an invisible man during his appearances, Arjen Robben actually managed to surprise teammates when he passed the ball (only half-joking here), and even the previously mentioned Sneijder wasn't at his best when attempting to hit the target. The usually fluid Holland attack made very few appearances during Euro 2012, and Van Persie's lack of production was especially noticeable in those three contests.
Netherlands Euro 2012 review: When it all went downhill
I mentioned it following the Germany match and, now that their Euro 2012 run is all over, it appears that the same moment holds true. The attitude of the players in the Holland squad immediately changed once Mario Gomez netted his first of two goals 24 minutes into that match, a tally that, according to Dirk Kuyt, caused the Dutch players to "lose their spirit." This goal proved that the 1-0 loss to Denmark was, in fact, not a fluke, and that the Netherlands were in serious trouble going forward.
Netherlands Euro 2012 review: Any good memories?
I think what stings so much for me about Euro 2012 is that the answer to that question is, for this Dutch football fan, a big "No." I was both angry and frustrated after the team's loss to Denmark. The Germany match left me feeling largely embarrassed to be such a diehard fan of this team. By the time the final whistle blew this past Sunday, I had already accepted the inevitable truth; that Holland got exactly what they deserved, an early exit out of the tournament.
Netherlands supporters can't even feel enthused about how the team's youngsters played in their three Euro 2012 games. Jetro Willems in particular had himself two very rough evenings to close out Holland's run in the tournament. In short, I can't say I'll remember anything positive about the eight days of the competition during which Holland made little impact. The 2010 World Cup didn't have the ending Dutch fans desired, but I was at least proud to support that team.
I certainly can't say the same about Holland as the current summer begins.