Amid a series of surprising shoreline’s and some expected one-sided matches, the Euro 2016 qualifying games during these past few days have introduced several interesting scenarios in the group tables. For instance, a late John O’Shea goal for Ireland denied Germany all three points as they tried to recover from losing to 2-0 to Poland on Saturday evening. The Germans are still only three points behind the group leaders but even more intriguing is the six point gap between the Netherlands and both Iceland and Czech Republic in Group A.
The Dutch have already lost away games in Iceland and in Prague and must be grateful for their 3-1 victory at home to Kazakhstan on Friday evening. Yet for a team which were unbeaten during 90 minutes football in the 2014 World Cup tournament and defeated reigning champions Spain 5-1, the current qualifying campaign must be a sobering experience.
Their latest 2-0 setback in Iceland on Monday evening was evidence that the Dutch cannot just expect qualification from their group to be a formality and they are unable to offer the excuse of vital players absent from the squad with Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wes Sneijder all participating in the match.
However, with Gus Hiddink now head coach of the Dutch squad after replacing Louis van Gaal, questions are now being levelled at his preparation methods for these vital qualifiers. He is now 67 years of age and has already lost three of his four games after assuming control of the national team with reports of in-fighting among several players some of whom are strong personalities.
All is not lost for the Netherlands as during autumn 2015, both the Iceland and Czech return fixtures will be played on home soil and two teams qualify from the group. Nevertheless, Iceland are a dangerous team, having just failed to participate in the Brazil World Cup after being eliminated in the European playoffs, and the Czechs have won both away games to date.
It may be a case that by September next year, Hiddink has departed as head coach with the De Boer brothers being earmarked as potential candidates to lead the national team. Frank and Ronald are currently presiding over a successful Ajax team in the Netherlands while Ronald Koeman would also command respect from the senior players after coaching stints at AZ, Feyenoord and now Southampton in the Premier League.
The Dutch have become infamous in previous tournaments for internal unrest among the players. Yet to avoid being eliminated at the group qualifying stage for the Euro 2016 competition to be staged in France, there is a need to start producing the form so prevalent in Brazil when the squad appeared to be content under the disciplined leadership of Louis van Gaal.