What Has Happened to the Netherlands Euro 2016 Qualifying Campaign?
What happened to the Netherlands Euro 2016 qualifying campaign? After making a huge impression at each of the last two World Cups, the Dutch national football team appear to have imploded over the course of the qualifying rounds for the 2016 European Championship. Indeed, the Oranje have only won three of their first eight qualifying games, and are now in very real danger of not securing a spot in the Euro 2016 tournament. If the Netherlands do miss out on qualification, it would be the first time since 1984 without a Dutch presence at the European Championship.
At the moment, the wearers of the Netherlands away shirt 2015 – 2016 are in fourth place in qualifying Group A—behind Iceland, the Czech Republic, and Turkey, but ahead of Latvia and Kazakhstan. Both Latvia and Kazakhstan have been mathematically eliminated from contention, as neither soccer squad could finish as one of the top three teams in the group. Iceland and Czech Republic, meanwhile, are locked in for the top two slots and will both qualify directly for Euro 2016.
Turkey vs. The Netherlands
That leaves Turkey and the Netherlands fighting for the third-place slot and a spot in the playoffs. Right now, Turkey are holding down third—though they are the lowest-ranked third-place team in the entire qualifying competition. The Dutch soccer team, meanwhile, are looking to work some magic in the final two games (both scheduled for mid-October) to save their Euro 2016 chances.
At this point, it could really be either of these teams in the playoffs. Turkey have the better record, having won three games, drawn another three, and lost two. The Netherlands have three wins as well, but only one draw and a total of four losses. The two teams have point totals of 12 and 10, respectively, while the Netherlands have the better goal difference (+3, versus Turkey’s +2).
So which football team has the better chance of qualifying for Euro 2016? Looking at the scores, conventional wisdom would say Turkey, but we’d actually put our money on the Oranje. The Dutch side seem to have lost a lot of their luster since coach Louis van Gaal left last summer to manage Manchester United, but have the easier draws for the final two games.
On October 10th and 13th, respectively, Turkey will face the Czech Republic and Iceland—the two top soccer teams in the group. Turkey lost 0-3 to Iceland and 1-2 to the Czech squad last fall, which means they probably won’t manage better than a draw in either of their October games. That wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the Netherlands didn’t have a borderline guaranteed win in the offing (against Kazakhstan, who have lost six of their eight qualifying games so far). The Oranje’s last qualifier, meanwhile, will pit them against the Czech Republic on their own home turf.
Add the fact that the Netherlands just have a better history of qualifying for Euro—they’ve appeared in nine of the 14 European Championships held since 1960, compared to Turkey’s three appearances—and it’s pretty reasonable to expect the Dutch to prevail in Group A. (Though, of course, they’ll still have to contend in the playoffs before they can set up shop in France next summer.)
It is worth considering, though, that the Netherlands national football team have next to no momentum right now. On September 3rd and 6th we saw the seventh and eighth fixtures of Euro 2016 qualifying Group A. The week was a mostly positive one for Turkey, who saw a lukewarm draw with Latvia on the 3rd, but beat the Netherlands 3-0 on the 6th for a solid boost.
The Oranje, meanwhile, lost to Iceland at home on the 3rd, and then traveled to Turkey for their big three-point loss there. That loss of momentum could feasibly impact the kind of performances we see from the Dutch against Kazakhstan and Czech Republic next month.
What do you think will happen? Will Turkey push past a World Cup podium finisher to secure a Euro 2016 playoff spot? Or will the Dutch football squad figure out how to fix whatever has been causing them to perform dreadfully since leaving Brazil last summer? Pick up a Netherlands football shirt 2015 – 2016 or a Turkey jersey 2014 – 2015 from Soccer Box to root for your chosen team!