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Barça bonus for Advocaat

Published: Wednesday 26 May 2004, 20.43CET
The success of FC Barcelona's Dutch contingent will help the Netherlands at UEFA EURO 2004™.
by Berend Scholten
Published: Wednesday 26 May 2004, 20.43CET

Barça bonus for Advocaat

The success of FC Barcelona's Dutch contingent will help the Netherlands at UEFA EURO 2004™.
Defeats against RC Celta de Vigo and Real Zaragoza in their final three games of the season may have taken some of the gloss off FC Barcelona's season, but few could have failed to notice how Frank Rijkaard's side rose to finish as runners-up in this season's Primera División.

Superb run
A 17-game unbeaten run from 4 January saw the club storm past Real Madrid CF to finish second behind champions Valencia CF. And as has long-since been the case, good news for Barcelona tends to be good news for the Dutch national side too.

Dutch talent
Since the mid-1970s, when Rinus Michels led a team featuring the likes of Johan Cruyff and Johan Neeskens, Barça have become synonymous with Dutch talent. Cruyff famously returned as coach in the late 1980s and early 1990s, bringing the likes of Ronald Koeman and Richard Witschge with him.

Ongoing job
In the late 1990s, Louis van Gaal did his best to reunite the AFC Ajax side who won the 1995 UEFA Champions League at the Camp Nou, with the likes of Patrick Kluivert, Michael Reiziger, Winston Bogarde, Marc Overmars and Ronald and Frank de Boer joining Phillip Cocu and Boudewijn Zenden in Spain, and Rijkaard has continued his work.

Great news
At the moment, Cocu, Edgar Davids, Kluivert, Overmars, Reiziger and Giovanni van Bronckhorst are all playing together at the club, and since they are all in great form and happy together, it cannot help but be grand news for Netherlands coach Dick Advocaat.

Advocaat warning
Van Bronckhorst in particular has benefited from the Dutch connection. The left-sided midfield player was schooled under Advocaat at Rangers FC, but was failing to make much progress after two seasons at Arsenal FC. Earlier this season, he heeded a warning from his coach.

First-team demand
In a comment supposedly aimed at Van Bronckhorst, Jimmy-Floyd Hasselbaink, Mario Melchiot and Zenden, Advocaat said: "I can only say one thing to them. Try to find a club where you can play every week, because I will only select players in my EURO squad who play every week at the highest level."

Sensible switch
That prompted Zenden to leave Chelsea for Middlesbrough FC and saw Van Bronckhorst make a loan move to Barça. "Although I really liked it at Arsenal, for me it is now important to play my matches," he explained. "Certainly I am looking ahead to the EURO tournament."

Telling fact
Tellingly, both Zenden and Van Bronckhorst were in the Dutch side that won 4-0 against Greece in their last friendly while Hasselbaink and Melchiot did not even make the squad for UEFA EURO 2004™, and for Van Bronckhorst in particular, success with Barça certainly helped smooth his way into the side.

Davids improved
The same could easily be said of Edgar Davids, who has flourished with his fellow Dutchmen at Barça since joining the club from Juventus FC, and with the likes of Cocu, Reiziger and Kluivert also in the national squad, the Barça team-mates could make an enormous difference for Advocaat at EURO 2004™.

Head start
The Netherlands' coach at UEFA EURO 2000™, Rijkaard may have his own motives in keeping so many Dutchmen at the Camp Nou. However, what is certain is that, with almost half of their first-team regularly playing club football together, the Dutch will go into pre-tournament training with a major head start.

Last updated: 01/02/12 5.01CET

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