The Netherlands Out Of Euro 2016: What Happened?
The Netherlands national football team have featured heavily in nine of the last 10 European Championship tournaments. After first qualifying for the UEFA soccer event in 1976 (and finishing third), the Oranje made regular appearances. They failed to qualify in 1984 but bounced back to win their first title at Euro 1988. In 1992, 2000, and 2004, the Netherlands reached the semifinals. In 1996 and 2008, they went to the quarterfinals. 2012 was the first year since the Dutch Euro victory where the soccer team failed to go beyond the group stage. Now, after a dismal run in the qualifying competition it is confirmed that Netherlands out of Euro 2016, the Netherlands won’t have a presence at UEFA’s European Championship for the first time in 22 years.
What Went Wrong?
The big question swirling in all football circles—not just among Dutch soccer fans—is what went wrong? If someone were to predict a year when the Oranje’s long history of success at Euro would end, it certainly wouldn’t have been this year.
The Netherlands national football team, after all, has been a highlight of the last two World Cups. In 2010, they were the runners-up, finishing second behind Spain. In 2014, they crushed Spain in their first group stage match and went on to reach the semifinals. The Dutch side even got the satisfaction of annihilating the Brazilian home team in the third-place consolation match.
It wasn’t surprising when Louis van Gaal, the Netherlands head coach during the 2014 World Cup, was asked to manage a course correction at Manchester United. When that happened, though, was when things started to go south for the Oranje.
Indeed, without Van Gaal’s steady hand at the steering wheel, the Dutch have looked like a football team without direction. They’ve played 14 games since the World Cup—including 10 Euro 2016 qualifiers and four friendlies—but have only won five of them, and have outright lost eight.
The Netherlands’ Abysmal Euro 2016 Qualifying Campaign
In the qualifiers for the 2016 European Championships, the Netherlands were thoroughly expected to dominate Group A. For the early seeding and group draw, the Dutch were ranked as the third best team in the competition by UEFA, after Spain and Germany.
The Netherlands had been seeded in an identical position ahead of the Euro 2012 qualifiers, and they had gone on to prove themselves again and again in that campaign. Indeed, in the 2012 qualifiers, the Oranje won nine of their 10 games and scored a tournament high of 37 goals. Klaas Jan-Huntelaar was the top scorer for the qualifying competition, with 13 goals to his name.
This time around, all of the big Dutch football stars from the past few years were back, from Jan-Huntelaar to big names like Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben. Under the management of Danny Blind, though, the magic was just gone. In the end, the Netherlands had a record of four wins, one draw, and five losses in the qualifiers, and only scored 17 goals—just 46% of what they managed at this stage four years ago.
It also didn’t help the Dutch soccer squad that Group A ended up being the tournament’s most competitive channel. The national teams from the Czech Republic and Iceland grabbed the top two spots, with 22 points and 20 points, respectively. Turkey, meanwhile, finished third, but their point tally (of 18) was the highest of any third-place team in the competition, which means they’ll be headed to Euro 2016 regardless. The Oranje finished with 16 points, losing 2-3 to the Czech Republic on the final day of competition to miss their chance at qualification.
Now, it’s back to the drawing board for the wearers of the Netherlands jersey 2015 – 2016. Danny Blind has vowed to stick around, despite how poorly the Dutch soccer squad has done under his management. But will Blind be allowed to stay? Or will Netherlands football officials bring in a fresh face to prepare the team for 2018 World Cup qualification? Link up with Soccer Box on social media to share your thoughts on the Oranje plight! You can find us on multiple social channels such as Facebook, Pinterest, or LinkedIn.