After a disappointing series of friendlies (11 draws, 2 loses and only 4
wins) co-hosts Holland have to prove that they are ready when it really
counts most. Expectations in the Netherlands have run high, and
anything but the European title will be considered nothing short of a
national disaster. The appointment of rookie manager Frank Rijkaard,
who succeeded Guus after the World Cup in France, has been highly
controversial from day one.
Co Adriaanse, appointed as the new Ajax manager, expressed his
disapproval with the decision of the Dutch FA quite bluntly when he
called Rijkaard "a fraud with a fake coaching license". Although nobody
else was as outspoken as Adriaanse, a lot of sport journalists and
football professionals doubted if a manager as inexperienced as Rijkaard
was the best man for the job. The average play and poor results in the
friendly matches didn't exactly win over the sceptics. It might well be
that if Rijkaard doesn't win the tournament, he will be out looking for
a job next month.
Rijkaard stated that he didn't attach a great deal of value to the
result of the friendly matches. He just considered them a great
opportunity to test new players and new tactical variations. But after
testing nearly a dozen of new players and a hand full of tactical
experiments, Rijkaard will probably start with almost the same team
(playing the same system) as Guus Hiddink fielded in France. At Euro
2000 Rijkaard will be assisted by Holland legends Johan Neeskens and
Ruud Krol, who was especially brought in by Rijkaard to look at the
During the last 2 years Rijkaard experimented a lot with a 4-3-3 system.
After the 4-1 defeat against England in Euro '96 Hiddink gave up
Holland's favorites system and went on to play 4-4-2, which was better
suited to the players he had to his disposal. The main problem with the
4-3-3 system is that Holland hasn't got a world class right winger. In
Euro '96 Hiddink included Gaston Taument and Jordi Cruijff in the squad
to fill in this position, but both of them really weren't good enough.
When Rijkaard took over he started to test some new wingers to see if he
could find a suitable candidate for this position. Boussatta (AZ), Talan
(Heerenveen), Reuser (Vitesse) got a chance to prove themselves. Only
Talan made a reasonable impression, but it was clear that he wasn't
experienced enough to rely on. Rijkaard included him in his
pre-selection for Euro 2000, but due to injury he didn't make the final
Rijkaard's experiments clearly showed that 4-3-3 can't be the starting
formation for the Dutch team. They might play it though when they are
behind and have to force a goal. In that case Overmars will play on the
right wing and Zenden on the left. Most of the time they will stick to
Van der Sar is undisputed the number one goalkeeper in the Dutch squad.
He is a good all-round goalkeeper who can also play the ball with his
feet better than most other goalies. His main weakness lies in the
penalty stopping department. In the last four penalty shootouts he took
part in, he only stopped one out of twenty-one penalties that were
kicked his way.
|Reiziger||Stam||F. de Boer||Zenden (Numan)|
defense is the achilles heel of the Dutch team. They are
dead ball situations and vulnerable if they are confronted with an
opponent who keeps running at them, the way Owen or Overmars do.
Reiziger probably is the most average player on the squad, but also the
only real right back. Rijkaard has the option to play Winter or Bosvelt
in that position, both of them have played there before but are really
Frank de Boer hasn't had a good season at Barcelona. He was totally out
of form and for a brief period of time was even told by Barcelona
manager Louis van Gaal that he wasn't good enough to sit on the bench,
so he watched the games from the stands. It remains to be seen if he
overcame this crisis in his career.
(R. de Boer)
midfield is the strongest department of the team. For
position Frank Rijkaard has the choice between at least two excellent
players. The only one who is certain to start is Edgar Davids, without a
doubt the most important player in the team. In a team with a lot of
players who only want to play nice football, a pittbull-like type that
wins back balls and intimidates opponents with his tackles and workrate
Seedorf is the most controversial player in the team. Most fans don't
want him to start, he doesn't defend all that well, and basically plays
his own game without considering team tactics. For any team it can be
deadly to have a tactically undisciplined player like Seedorf in their
Kluivert will be the target man and Bergkamp will wander
him. In Dutch Bergkamp's position is called 'schaduwspits', which
translate as 'shadow striker'.
Bergkamp and Kluivert aren't natural goalscorers so there might a
problem in that department. If a topscorer like Ruud Van Nistelrooy
hadn't been injured Bergkamp most likely would have started on the
Some Chelsea fans were surprised that Hasselbaink didn't make the final
22, but in Holland there wasn't much discussion about it. He may have
scored 23 goals in the Spanish league, but he still remains a player who
is not considered good enough to play for Oranje by most fans. He lacks
vision and technical ability.
The most important player on the Dutch bench is Pierre van Hooydonk.
He might not be the most gifted attacker, but he certainly knows how to
score a goal and hit a direct free kick. Whenever Holland has to score
to stay in the tournament, he will come in and join Patrick Kluivert up