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Netherlands and Romania renew rivalry

Despite only scoring twice in ten matches with the Netherlands, Romania go into their game in Berne having defeated their opponents in the sides' last meeting.

Romania defeated the Netherlands for the first time in qualification
Romania defeated the Netherlands for the first time in qualification ©Getty Images

Romania go into their final Group C fixture against the Netherlands in Berne in pole position to follow their opponents into the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008™. Following draws against France and Italy, Victor Piţurcă's team can secure second place in the section at the expense of their more-fancied rivals with victory against a Dutch side already guaranteed top spot after taking the maximum six points from their two fixtures to date.

• Romania, who are seeking to emulate their quarter-final appearance in 2000, would also advance with a draw in the event of France and Italy sharing the spoils in the group's other game in Zurich. Should those two teams draw 0-0, Romania could even lose and progress – provided the defeat was by a one- or two-goal margin or a three-goal margin other than 3-0.

• Piţurcă's team began their campaign by holding France 0-0 and then picked up a second point with a 1-1 draw against Italy. Romania took a 56th-minute lead through Adrian Mutu but conceded the equaliser to Christian Panucci 60 seconds later and then spurned a chance to win the game when Mutu had a late penalty saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

• Marco van Basten's Netherlands side swept past Italy and France to secure a place in the last eight with a game to spare. They began impressively by defeating Italy 3-0 – Ruud van Nistelrooy (26), Wesley Sneijder (31) and Giovanni van Bronckhorst (79) the scorers – and followed that up with a 4-1 win against Les Bleus. Dirk Kuyt (9), Robin van Persie (59), Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder (92) got the goals for the Oranje, with Thierry Henry (71) managing the sole reply for France.   

• The teams need no introduction to each other  as this will be the third meeting in the space of 15 months between two countries who were pitted against each other in the qualifying campaign. Romania came out on top then, holding the Netherlands to a 0-0 draw in Rotterdam in March 2007 before beating them 1-0 in Constanta last October through Dorin Goian's 71st-minute goal. Victor Piţurcă's side duly took first place in Group G – three points clear of the Oranje.

• The teams for their qualifying match on 13 October 2007 were:
Romania: Bogdan Lobonţ, Dorin Goian, George Ogăraru, Răzvan Raţ, Gabriel Tamaş, Cristian Chivu, Bănel Nicoliţă, Paul Codrea, Ovodiu Petre, Ciprian Marica, Adrian Mutu.
Netherlands: Maarten Stekelenburg, Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Johnny Heitinga, André Ooijer, Joris Mathijsen, Wilfred Bouma, Demy de Zeeuw, Rafael van der Vaart, Clarence Seedorf, Ruud van Nistelrooy, Arjen Robben.

• It was the Netherlands' first ever loss to Romania, a team whom they have beaten in six of their past ten meetings.

• They recorded 2-0 wins both at home and away against Romania in qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Phillip Cocu and debutant Ryan Babel struck in the victory in Bucharest in March 2005 while Robben and Kuyt were the names on the scoresheet when the Dutch prevailed again three months later.

• Romania failed to score in the first five fixtures between the teams and have scored just twice in ten overall.

• Netherlands coach Van Basten appeared as a player in a 2-0 victory against Romania in the Oranje's final warm-up game before their victorious 1988 UEFA European Championship campaign.

• Van Basten was also in the AC Milan team who defeated an FC Steaua Bucureşti side that included Piţurcă, his Romania counterpart, in the 1989 European Champion Clubs' Cup final, scoring twice in Milan's 4-0 win.

• As coach of the Romania Under-21 side, Piţurcă suffered a 2-1 defeat against the Netherlands in May 1998 in a match his side had initially led through a Cosmin Contra goal.

• Romania captain Cristian Chivu played 107 league games for AFC Ajax between 1999/00 and 2003/04. Goalkeeper Bogdan Lobonţ also spent the first half of this decade at the Amsterdam club, making 49 league appearances.

• Romania's Dorin Goian and Nicolae Dică scored for FC Steaua Bucureşti in a 3-1 victory at SC Heerenveen in the 2005/06 UEFA Cup Round of 32, setting up a 3-2 aggregate success.

• This is the Netherlands' sixth consecutive UEFA European Championship finals appearance. They were European champions in 1988 – Van Basten scoring five goals – and reached the semi-finals in 1992, 2000 and 2004.

• Romania's best performance in three previous UEFA European Championship final round appearances was in 2000 when they reached the quarter-finals before losing to eventual runners-up Italy.

• This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship and the eighth that features a final tournament with a group phase.