The Netherlands will make their tenth FIFA World Cup finals appearance this summer and will be aiming to reach the same number of UEFA European Championship final tournaments in France. Widely renowned for the inventive quality of their football, they became champions of Europe in 1988 when Rinus Michels' talented team, including classy forwards Ruud Gullit and Marco van Basten, lifted the Henri Delaunay Cup in Munich. When they made the 2004 semi-finals, they did so from a group containing both the Czech Republic and Latvia.
The Czech Republic have only been competing as an independent nation for 20 years, yet in that time the country has qualified for every UEFA European Championship, finishing runners-up at EURO '96 – their first major tournament – and reaching the semi-finals of UEFA EURO 2004. In Portugal they had a dramatic comeback to beat the Netherlands 3-2 and reach the quarter-finals.
Turkey have also dramatically beaten one of their group rivals 3-2 having been two down to reach a UEFA EURO quarter-final, the Czech Republic in 2008, when they made the last four. It took Turkey ten attempts to qualify for their first UEFA European Championship final tournament, and after losing all three matches at EURO '96 they reached the quarter-finals at UEFA EURO 2000 under Mustafa Denizli.
Latvia's qualification for UEFA EURO 2004, when they defeated Turkey in a play-off after finishing group runners-up to Sweden, was one of the major upsets of the UEFA European Championship's modern era. A draw with Germany in Portugal added to the team's lustre, but that remains an isolated success.
A team on the rise, constructed on the foundations of the talented squad that qualified for the 2011 UEFA European Under-21 Championship in Denmark, Iceland made history by reaching the qualifying play-offs for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Led by former long-serving Sweden head coach Lars Lagerbäck they finished second in their qualifying group, missing out on a place in Brazil after a 2-0 aggregate defeat by Croatia. It was their best ever performance in a major competition, eclipsing their valiant effort to qualify for UEFA EURO 2000 when only a last-day 3-2 defeat in France eliminated them.
A former republic of the Soviet Union, Kazakhstan joined the Asian Football Confederation after independence in 1992 but were accepted as a UEFA member a decade later. The ninth biggest country in the world but with a relatively small population approaching 18 million, its national football team have been involved in only two UEFA European Championship qualifying campaigns, finishing sixth out of eight teams on the road to UEFA EURO 2008 and sixth out of six four years later.
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