Against all the odds, Netherlands are not topping Group A in their Euro 2016 qualification campaign. As the results stand before the final round of fixtures, the Dutch lie 4th in Group A with 10 points (P8, W3, D1, L4) and they have to battle against Turkey who are in 3rd and the final spot for the Euro 2016 Playoffs. Turkey have 12 points (P8, W3, D3, L2). Iceland and the Czech Republic have mathematically sealed the top 2 spots of the group, that guarantees them a place in the Euro 2016 Group Stage.
Most of the golden generation of the Dutch players, who made the team a force to be reckoned with during the period of 2008-14 (well the Euro 2012 campaign was dismal in the final tournament but they enjoyed an excellent qualification run). However, Daley Blind has been tinkering with the side, as he tries to create a new core with the likes of Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Klass-Jan Huntelaar Wesley Sneijder reaching the end of the International careers. This has been seen by giving debuts to various new young players in all playing areas. The squad that has been called for the matches in the October Intentional break, include 5 uncapped youngsters as well some members of the old guard.
Now, a look at the 2 fixtures both Netherlands and Turkey have
- Kazakhstan vs Netherlands (Oct 10)
- Netherlands vs Czech Republic (Oct 13)
- Czech Republic vs Turkey (Oct 10)
- Turkey vs Iceland (Oct 13)
Based on the fixtures, Turkey has the tougher route, facing the top 2 teams of Group A. Netherlands, have a slightly easier route as Kazakhstan, who have already been eliminated, are their first match opponents and then they host the Czech Republic, where they need to make their home support count to get the maximum number of points.
At just 2 points, Kazakhstan will pose no danger for even a rebuilding Dutch side. They were swept aside by the Dutch 3-1 in the first meeting and despite playing away to a minnow team, this match will end up deciding the Dutch fate. If they drop points here, their chance to play at the Euro 2016 ends. Especially given Turkey play against the Czech Republic away from home (the Czechs have P4, W3 D1 at home in this qualification campaign), they have the chance of really taking 3 points with Turkey gaining none, to climb into third. This would just boost the morale of the team after such a poor qualification route so far.
The final round of fixtures will be tricky, Netherlands will host the Czech Republic while Turkey hosts Iceland.
Away from home, The Czech Republic have a 3 wins and 1 defeat from all matches. 7 of the Dutch points have come from home, so this is where they need to go out for all-or-nothing situation. The Czech are more defensively error prone than Iceland, and if their strikers such as van Persie, Huntelaar and other forward players such as Depay, Affelay, Dost all play well, they can possibly get their 3 points, although a draw seems the most probable result given the excellent run of their opponents.
Iceland have a similar record to Czech Republic in this qualification campaign with 3 wins and a defeat in 4 games, but however are a much more solid defensive unit, conceding just 3 goals so far. Turkey will have their work cut out to get past their defense. With the teamwork and morale at their highest, Iceland could actually walk away with 3 points.
So, on the face of it, they have a real solid chance of qualifying as their rivals face a much tougher run of matches. However, unless they really capitalize on their match with Kazakhstan, the Dutch are not going to the Euro 2016 Playoffs. This is football, anything can happen, as no one would have seen the Dutch languishing 4th and not first.
Editor : Akanksha Agarwal