The case for backing Holland to win Euro 2012
Presented before they balls up another easy friendly tonight…
On the evidence of a year at Roma – enough to break any player – the keeper isn’t really that great. The defence is crammed with creaking legs and Johan Cruyff’s ego-sized question marks and the forwards are perhaps unfairly tagged ‘combustible’.
But a jaunty jog through several stars fighting over the front four slots should suffice in drowning out those negatives: Wesley Sneijder, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie, Rafael van der Vaart, Dirk Kuyt, Ibrahim Afellay. No team in the tournament can rival that strength.
The continued presence of Bert van Marwijk in the dugout serves to provide a continuity unimaginable to the likes of England, France and Italy.
However, the handy knack that sets Holland – who should really be called the Netherlands, but that’s nowhere near as natty – apart from the other favourites is that they are practically choke-proof.
A bet on Holland promises a run worthy of your stake. They have reached the quarter-finals of the nine international tournaments that they have contested over the past two decades, and fare best at the Euros, reaching the final four at four of the past six.
Instead of fearing the so-called group of death that they are almost always plopped into, they just relax safe in the knowledge that they’ll find a way through and instead fret over the prospect of engaging in a penalty shootout later on.
Their record over the latest four-year cycle is as impressive as Germany’s – outlasting them in South Africa and being the standout side at Euro 2008, slamming seven past World Cup finalists Italy and France, before a shock quarter-final exit – so why are they a bulky 7/1 while Germany hug up to Spain at 3/1?