Cor Pot's Netherlands side are back in the final tournament after missing out on the last two, finally gaining the chance to add a third title to their 2006 and 2007 European crowns.
The Jong Oranje started with three straight victories, but picked up just a point in the back-to-back meetings with Scotland – the first of those a home defeat. Dropping those five points proved to be a blip and they won their remaining three games, scoring 14 goals in the process. The play-off against Slovakia turned out to be plain sailing, especially after a 2-0 away win in the first leg, an identical result at home sending them through 4-0 on aggregate.
Genero Zeefuik may have been top scorer in qualifying with eight goals, but the crucial away strikes in the play-off came from Vitesse midfielder Marco van Ginkel. The side are skippered by centre-back Bram Nuytinck and although the only ever-present in qualifying was Kevin Leerdam, this is down to so many of this class having already made the step up to senior level. Nine have joined up with the full Oranje selection, including Luciano Narsingh, Jeffrey Bruma, Luuk de Jong and Van Ginkel, while even Kevin Strootman – who did not take part in qualifying – is eligible to play.
Pot is eyeing a third title as Netherlands coach: "The best players have to go to the European Championship finals. It seems logical to me that, with those players at the tournament, we will have a chance."
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