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UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Netherlands

The Netherlands' EURO zenith came when they lifted the trophy in 1988.

Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit revel in the Netherlands' EURO '88 success
Frank Rijkaard and Ruud Gullit revel in the Netherlands' EURO '88 success

EURO pedigree

Final tournaments: 9
EURO best: winners (1988)

The Netherlands may not be one of Europe’s most populous nations, but they’ve certainly punched above their weight at previous EUROs, winning once and reaching the semi-finals on three further occasions. The triumphant team of 1988, which was liberally sprinkled with players from European Cup winners PSV and also included the AC Milan holy trinity of Marco van Basten, Ruud Gullit and Frank Rijkaard, were a joy to behold.

Key players

Every Netherlands goal on the road to EURO 2020
Every Netherlands goal on the road to EURO 2020

Memphis Depay (54 caps, 19 goals)
Time and time again the Lyon striker has been decisive for the Oranje with goals and assists. He doesn’t always make the obvious choice or favour the easiest option, but there’s no doubt that the Dutch attack is vastly more effective when he’s part of it.

Georginio Wijnaldum (62 caps, 15 goals)
Liverpool’s midfield powerhouse brings elegance, steel, drive and craft to the Dutch engine room. In particular, his almost telepathic understanding with Memphis has yielded great success for the national side.

Memorable EURO goals

Watch Van Basten’s 1988 final volley
Watch Van Basten’s 1988 final volley

• Arnold Mühren’s looping crossfield pass in the EURO ’88 final initially looked too long for Van Basten to reach. What followed was one of the most stunning finishes ever seen in a major final.

• During the group stage match against world champions Italy at EURO 2008, Giovanni van Bronckhorst cleared an Andrea Pirlo corner from the line. Seconds later the Dutch left-back had hared up the pitch to engineer a textbook counterattack goal converted by Wesley Sneijder.

• Patrick Kluivert’s improvised finish from a Boudewijn Zenden pass completed his hat-trick against in-form Yugoslavia during EURO 2000. The 6-1 victory confirmed the hosts' status as tournament favourites – even if Azzurri keeper Francesco Toldo had other ideas in the semis.

Highlights: Kluivert’s EURO 2000 quarter-final hat-trick
Highlights: Kluivert’s EURO 2000 quarter-final hat-trick

Memorable moments

• At EURO ‘88, the Dutch struggled to break down a determined Republic of Ireland side, who looked set to deny the Oranje qualification from Group 2. But with only eight minutes left, Wim Kieft’s wayward header took the strangest of bounces to elude Packie Bonner and Rinus Michels’ men were on their merry way.

• Missing one penalty during a EURO 2000 semi-final on home soil could be considered bad luck. Missing two could be seen as careless. But missing five?! Toldo broke Dutch hearts twice in regulation time and three times during the resultant shoot-out to send Italy into the final.

• During a brilliantly open group match against Czech Republic at EURO 2004, Netherlands coach Dick Advocaat replaced winger and constant threat Arjen Robben with Paul Bosvelt after 58 minutes to bolster the midfield. It didn’t work, the Czechs scoring twice to win 3-2.

EURO 2000 highlights: France 2-3 Netherlands
EURO 2000 highlights: France 2-3 Netherlands

Stats

Most final tournament appearances
16: Edwin van der Sar
13: Dennis Bergkamp, Phillip Cocu
12: Edgar Davids

Most final tournament goals
6: Patrick Kluivert, Ruud van Nistelrooy
5: Marco van Basten
4: Dennis Bergkamp

Killer stat: Jordi Cruyff scored more EURO goals (1) than his father Johan (0).

Did you know?

Watch Van Basten's five EURO 1988 goals
Watch Van Basten's five EURO 1988 goals

• Kieft’s fortuitous goal against Ireland in 1988 was the first header scored by the Oranje in a EURO final tournament.

• Kieft’s strike was the only one of the eight scored by the Dutch at EURO ‘88 that wasn’t finished or created by Van Basten.

• In 1971, Netherlands – despite consisting predominantly of players from the current (Ajax) and previous (Feyenoord) European champions – failed to qualify for EURO 1972.

UEFA.tv: 1988 Dutch masters