Holland – Euro 2012
What are the expectations for the team?
Mixed. Some think that after reaching the World Cup final in 2010 the Dutch will be one of the main contenders. Others expect them to get seriously done over by Germany and, given that the other two teams in the group are also in the top ten of the FIFA world rankings, struggle to even progress to the knockout phase.
Is the coach popular?
Yes, Bert van Marwijk. has very few detractors and has been able to mould a team that has performed exceptionally well over the last few years. Choosing to ignore Clarence Seedorf from day one was probably his most controversial decision, but no one seems to hold that against him. If he stays until the end of his contract, which now runs until 2016, he will have been in charge longer than anyone since good old Bob Glendenning (1925-40).
Have any players appeared in TV commercials or other advertising?
The likes of Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben have all done the predictably moody/edgy "street" commercials for Nike or Adidas. Considerably more original was Dirk Kuyt, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Ricky van Wolfswinkel appearing as superheroes in a TV advert for a Dutch supermarket. Their mission was to retrieve footballs that kids had kicked up trees, under cars or onto spiked fences.
Which player is the best interviewee and who is the worst?
Most of the big names have been in front of a camera so often that they know exactly what to say and do. Many also speak four or even five languages, including Robben, Rafael van der Vaart, Mark van Bommel and Ruud van Nistelrooy, so they are rarely stuck for a suitable phrase. Sadly, the unashamed bravado of past stalwarts like Frank de Boer (Interviewer: "You had a pretty good game today." Frank: "Yes, I thought I played very well.") has been replaced by the standard deflection of praise and the emphasis on the contribution of other team-mates.
Do any players have unusual hobbies or business interests?
Kuyt and his wife are heavily involved in charity work and have set up the Dirk Kuyt Foundation to help disadvantaged children in the Netherlands and the third world. One of the ways the foundation raises money is by selling DK-branded clothes. Gregory van der Wiel famously went to see rapper Lil' Wayne a few years ago in Amsterdam. It is not exactly an unusual hobby unless you consider that he should have been flying to Australia with the national team but had withdrawn from the squad because of concussion.
Will there be any rehearsed goal celebrations?
Hopefully not. Robben treated us to a half-hearted Mario Gómez-style matador sweep after scoring the winner against England at Wembley in February, but it came across as being spur-of-the-moment. Players like Van der Vaart and Huntelaar always appear so genuinely carried away by the emotion of having scored that premeditated routines seem out of the question.
Are there any ex-players working as TV experts and what are they like?
Edwin van der Sar has started appearing as a pundit and after a somewhat nervous start is beginning to make his mark. His insistence that we all look again at the way raindrops fell from the bar as a result of Alexis Sanchez's lob in the first-leg Champions League semi-final against Chelsea show him to be a true aesthete. Ronald Waterreus, Youri Mulder and departing Heerenveen manager Ron Jans are likely to feature as well.
Will there be many fans travelling to the finals and will they have any chants or songs?
As for previous finals, a campsite for the Dutch supporters has been set up. This year it is on an island in the middle of the river that runs through Kharkiv. The organisers have room for approximately 1,250 people and expect the place to be full for the match against Germany at least. Most will fly or travel by bus, although a few hardy souls intend to drive the 5,000km there and back. Derek Brookman
You must be logged in to comment. Please register if you don't have an account yet.