Dutch down-and-out


October 14, 2015
Netherlands' Georginio Wijnaldum (right) and Jeremain Lens react after the Euro 2016 qualifying match against the Czech Republic yesterday.


The Dutch charmed the world with their free-flowing total football during the 1970s. In 2015, they are just a total loss.

With a second straight home defeat, 3-2 to already-qualified Czech Republic, the Netherlands failed to reach the European Championship finals for the first time since 1984. And rubbing salt into that wound, neighbours and perennial rivals Belgium moved top of the FIFA rankings and qualified as the Group B winners with a 3-1 victory over Israel.

While Belgium stars like Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard are heading up, Dutch veterans like Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder are heading in the other direction.

In this topsy-turvy world, be assured of one thing - always count on Italy. With two goals late in the game, the Azzurri came from behind to beat Norway 2-1, and offer qualification on a plate to Croatia, who went through on a lone Ivan Perisic goal in Malta. The Scandinavians now face the play-offs.

qualifying place

There was no such hardship for third-place Turkey in the Netherlands' group. They beat Iceland 1-0 to take the automatic qualifying place for Euro 2016 as the best third-place finishers behind the Czech Republic and Iceland.

Joining Norway in Sunday's play-off draw are Hungary, Ukraine, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Slovenia.

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