Group C - 13 June 2008
Netherlands v France
Stade de Suisse - Bern
Netherlands omens favour France
France will hope their Group C fixture with the Netherlands in Berne will provide as much of a stepping stone to success as past encounters with the Oranje have done.
Les Bleus beat the Netherlands en route to the semi-finals at EURO '96 and four years later went on to win UEFA EURO 2000 despite losing to the Dutch in their final group game, with qualification already assured. The stakes are certainly higher for France here than that latter encounter in Rotterdam with events at the Stade de Suisse likely to prove pivotal to their hopes of further progress.
France enter the match on the back foot having failed to break down an obdurate Romania side in a goalless draw in their opening UEFA EURO 2008 fixture in Zurich on Monday. Dutch confidence, by contrast, will be sky-high following their 3-0 triumph against Italy in Berne a result secured by goals from Ruud van Nistelrooy (26 minutes), Wesley Sneijder (31) and Giovanni van Bronckhorst (79).
Looking back to UEFA EURO 2000, the Netherlands came from behind twice to defeat France 3-2 when they met in Amsterdam in their third game of the group stage. Christophe Dugarry and David Trezeguet struck for Les Bleus but those goals were cancelled out by Patrick Kluivert and Frank de Boer respectively before Boudewijn Zenden struck the Dutch winner.
Patrick Vieira and Nicolas Anelka appeared for France that day, the latter as a substitute, as the Dutch secured first place in the group with the victory, although it was France who lifted the trophy that summer.
The teams for that fixture on 21 June 2000 were:
France: Bernard Lama, Christian Karembeu, Frank Leboeuf, Marcel Desailly, Vincent Candela, Patrick Vieira, Robert Pirθs, Johan Micoud, Christophe Dugarry, David Trezeguet, Sylvain Wiltord.
Netherlands: Sander Westerveld, Paul Bosvelt, Jaap Stam, Frank de Boer, Artur Numan, Phillip Cocu, Dennis Bergkamp, Edgar Davids, Marc Overmars, Patrick Kluivert, Boudewijn Zenden.
The only survivors of France's quarter-final win against the Netherlands at EURO '96 are Netherlands goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and France's Lilian Thuram. France were 5-4 winners on penalties after a goalless draw in the game at Anfield on 22 June 1996, with Clarence Seedorf the only player from either side to miss as his spot-kick was saved by Bernard Lama.
The most recent meeting between the sides was a friendly in Rotterdam in March 2004 which finished goalless.
The teams that day were:
Netherlands: Edwin van der Sar, Mario Melchiot, Johnny Heitinga, Phillip Cocu, Boudewijn Zenden, Andy van der Meyde, Mark van Bommel, Edgar Davids, Rafael van der Vaart, Marc Overmars, Roy Makaay.
France: Fabien Barthez, Willy Sagnol, Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Bixente Lizarazu, Claude Makelele, Olivier Dacourt, Johan Micoud, Ludovic Giuly, David Trezeguet, Sidney Govou.
France beat the Netherlands 2-0 in Paris in November 1981 en route to qualifying for the 1982 World Cup, finishing a single point above the Oranje who missed out on the finals. UEFA President Michel Platini opened the scoring in that match with a trademark free-kick.
The overall head-to-head record between the sides is nine wins apiece and three draws, with France's 1996 shoot-out success classed as a win.
During his playing days, France coach Raymond Domenech was part of an RC Strasbourg side beaten 4-0 on aggregate by Dutch club AFC Ajax in the 1979/80 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-final.
Netherlands coach Marco van Basten played in his country's 1-1 friendly draw with France in June 1992 and was in the AC Milan team beaten by France's Olympique de Marseille in the 1993 UEFA Champions League final.
Netherlands forward Ruud van Nistelrooy has scored three goals in three games against France goalkeeper Grιgory Coupet, when facing the Olympique Lyonnais player in UEFA Champions League action with first Manchester United FC and then Real Madrid CF.
France striker Anelka will have mixed memories of facing Netherlands keeper Van der Sar during the past club season. He registered the only goal of former side Bolton Wanderers FC's surprise 1-0 Premier League win against Manchester United in November 2007, but playing for Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final had his spot-kick saved by the Dutchman to confirm United's shoot-out triumph.
France defender William Gallas beat Van der Sar to score a last-minute equaliser for Arsenal FC in a 2-2 Premier League draw with Manchester United in November last year. Forward Karim Benzema, meanwhile, got the better of the Dutchman when striking Lyon's goal in a 1-1 draw with United in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round first-leg tie in France.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar struck both Dutch goals in a 2-1 UEFA European Under-18 Championship qualifying win against France in December 2000. Anelka claimed his own double in a 3-0 win for France against the Dutch at the same stage of the same competition in 1997.
France's William Gallas plays with Netherlands forward Robin van Persie at Arsenal FC. Van Persie partnered Frenchman Thierry Henry in the Arsenal attack prior to the latter's 2007 transfer to FC Barcelona.
This is the Netherlands' sixth consecutive UEFA European Championship finals appearance. They were European champions in 1988 a tournament where Van Basten scored five goals and reached the semi-finals in 1992, 2000 and 2004.
France, appearing in their fifth successive UEFA European Championship, were champions on home soil in 1984 and lifted the Henri Delaunay trophy a second time in 2000.
This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship and the eighth that features a final tournament with a group phase.
the netherlands basically killed france, lol. holland realy needs to weaken up before the finals in order for us to have a chance..
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