Can the Netherlands Secure Direct Qualification for the 2016 European Championship?
The Netherlands national football team have not missed out on qualification for the UEFA European Championship since 1984, and have seen a slew of great results at the tournament in the years since-including a title victory in 1988, and four semi-final berths, in 1992, 2000, and 2004, respectively. Now, though, as Euro 2016 looms and as the qualifiers head into their final few months, the Dutch are in danger of not securing direct qualification into the tournament. The question is, will they be able to turn things around in the final four qualifying games, or will they have to fight for their spot in the event with a strong playoff performance? We analyze the results so far and ask can the Netherlands secure direct qualification for Euro 2016?
The State of the Union
If the Oranje want to compete in France next year, one thing is for sure: they are going to have to step things up considerably. The Netherlands are currently in third-place in qualifying Group A, behind both Ireland and Czech Republic.
The good news for fans in the Netherlands football shirt is that the Dutch soccer squad will probably not dip below third place in Group A. Right now, they're ahead of Turkey by two points, and the other two squads in the group (Latvia and Kazakhstan) pose no threat whatsoever. The top two teams from the group will progress to Euro 2016 directly, while the third-place team will advance to a playoff with the other third-place teams from UEFA's qualifying groups.
But while the Oranje probably won't get passed by Turkey for third place, direct qualification would certainly be easier, and it's not out of the question yet. So far, the Netherlands have won three of their qualifying fixtures (two against Latvia and one with Kazakhstan), drawn one (with Turkey), and lost two (one each against Ireland and the Czech Republic). That record yields a point total of 10 in the standings, as well as a goal difference of +7, thanks almost singularly to a big 6-0 home game win against Latvia.
Iceland are in the lead-with five wins and one loss-for a point total of 15. The Czech Republic, meanwhile have 13 points, with a record of four wins, one draw, and one loss. The two football teams have goal difference ratings of +15 and +4, respectively.
The Coming Fixtures
Iceland may be too far ahead for the Netherlands to catch them, but second place is definitely within Dutch reach. Even if the Oranje just win one game on a match day where the Czechs record a loss, they'll swap into second place, thanks to their superior goal difference.
With that said, the Dutch are set to face some of the tougher fixtures of their qualifying campaign in the coming months. On September 3rd, they face Ireland; on September 6th, they play Turkey; on October 10th, they head to Kazakhstan; and on October 13th, they close out the Group A with a game against the Czech Republic. Of those soccer matches, only the October 10th bout with Kazakhstan seems like an assured victory for the Oranje.
Then again, the Dutch have played markedly better at home during the qualifiers than they have away. Their 2-1 loss against the Czech Republic and their 2-0 defeat against Iceland both happened in away fixtures, while their big 6-0 victory over Latvia was a home game. In the coming months, they'll have chances to play both Iceland and the Czech Republic on their own home turf.
Will the home field advantage help the Netherlands to score a few high-profile wins and push into first or second place in Group A? It could be, particularly because neither of the losses that the Dutch have suffered so far in the qualifiers were exactly blowouts. On the contrary, the Netherlands soccer squad beat Iceland in possession almost 70-30, but just had bad luck with their shots, and only lost to the Czech Republic because of a last minute goal for the home side. Playing on their home football pitch could be just what the Oranje need to turn the tides in their favor.
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