Team Preview: Netherlands

FIFA Ranking: 4

Euro history: The Netherlands won the tournament in 1988, which took place in Germany. The Netherlands have semifinals appearances in 1992, 2000 and 2004.

How they qualified: The Netherlands won nine of 10 matches in qualifying with a goal differential of +29. They finished ahead of Sweden, Hungary, Finland, Moldova and San Marino

Group information and schedule: Netherlands is in Group B with Denmark, Germany and Portugal. All three group matches will be played in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

June 9 vs. Denmark

June 13 vs. Germany

June 17 vs. Portugal

Early roster thoughts: Netherlands has great attacking options, but an unstable defense. Goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg (Roma) emerged in the 2010 World Cup. The defense is led by the experienced John Heitinga (Everton) and Joris Mathijsen (Malaga). The defensive midfield should feature the aggressive Mark van Bommel (PSV) and Nigel de Jong (Manchester City). The Dutch attack is led by Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich) and Robin Van Persie (Arsenal). Liverpool’s Dirk Kuyt could start if the Netherlands want to play more of a defensive system. If they need an extra striker, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar would be a great option. The Schalke striker scored 48 goals in 47 appearances in all competitions.

How they will do: Netherlands is in the “group of death.” Playing Denmark first works in their favor, but they must get three points from this match. The second game against Germany should be the most exciting of the group stage. Look for Kuyt for mark Cristiano Ronaldo or Nani when the Netherlands and Portugal meet on June 17. If the Netherlands defense can hold up they should make the quarterfinals.

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