EURO 1988 : REDEMPTION FOR RINUS MICHEL

Euro 1988 hosted by West German is the 7th edition of the competition, and 3rd since its expansion to 8 teams started in 1980. The final will be held in the Olympic Stadium Munich, which witnessed the glorious failure of the 1974 Netherland, which introduced Total Football to football. The man in charge of the team, Rinus Michel, returned to manage a new skilful generation of the Dutch player. The glorious failure in the penultimate stage in 1974 had morphed into a triumphant return for the manager awarded as the Best Manager of the Decade by FIFA in 2000. The Dutch had finally lifted their first major trophy in these editions of Euro with a unique fantastic tight angle volley by Marco Van Basten.

An anecdote of these editions is no player had been sent off, no goalless draw in any matches, and all the game had been decided in the regular time. The tournament format is similar to the previous tournament as eight-team were divided into two groups of 4 teams which the winner and runner up of the group advanced to the semi-final.  The first group A had West Germany, Italy, Spain and Denmark. The West German team, highly optimistic about winning the trophy in their stadium, had drawn with Italy in tightly contested before sweeping aside the Spanish team and Denmark team to advance to the semi-final. Italy, too, had joined the German to the semi-final after beating both Spanish and Denmark.

The next group contain the Netherland, England, Ireland and USSR. The Dutch many have a triumphant end; however, it is contradictory in their opening game as they lost to USSR and the English team also have the similar fate like the Netherland as they had lost their opening game against Ireland. Both Netherland and England contest the next game in these groups as both need to avoid defeat to hinder an elimination. With the return of their centre forward, Marco Van Basten, in starting lineup, the Dutch had won the crucial game with Van Basten scoring a hattrick beating England 3-1. England will be eliminated from the group, and joining them is the Ireland team.  Both USSR and Netherland progressed to the semi-final.

The semi-final will be contested between the USSR and Italy, while another semi-final will be between West Germany. In the semi-final contested between USSR and  Italy, USSR had beaten the Italian team with a 2-0 scoreline to advance to their 4th final. The USSR team won the trophies in the first edition in 1960 and will like to add another winning medal in these editions.

Another semi-final is the repeat of the famous 1974 World Cup final between the West German and the Netherlands. The match is tensed match in which either team must win to progress to the final. The game unfolded in the second half when the German took the lead with Lothar Matthaus penalty. The Dutch had equalized through Ronald Koeman penalty late in the second half, and with their improving centre forward, Marco Van Basten scored the winning goal in the last minute to dented the German from progressing to the final. On the opposite, the Dutch had avenged their painful defeat in 1974 against the Germans.

The Dutch are full of confidence that they can have their first significant trophies and, as icing on the cake, winning in their fiercest rival stadium. The final of these editions will be between the USSR, who had beaten the team in group stages. However, with the Dutch having significant momentum of winning against the might German team in their stadium, the Dutch are different from the group stages. The Dutch in the group stages are crawling; however, the Dutch in the final is a top team full of confidence to achieve their first major trophies.

The Dutch opened the score in the final from a Ruud Gullit, and from then on, the game is under Dutch control. Marco Van Basten had sealed the Dutch victory, which a delicate volley from a tight goal in a moment that is cherished in the footballing world. The Dutch is victorious and achieved what their predecessor, the 1974 team failed. Rinus Michel had won the trophies that he deserved with the national team, and the Dutch captain Ruud Gullit had become the first Dutch player to lift a significant award. Rinus Michel, since then, had retired from the national team, and the team is a shadow of themselves in the 1990 World Cup as the reigning European Champion knockout from the second round by the eventual World Cup winner West Germany.

Rinus Michel and the Netherland had gained the triumph they deserved; however, unfortunately, these were the only times when a Dutch team had reached the final of Euro. Since the glorious evening in 1988, the Dutch had failed to reach the final of Euro again. The Euro 1988 is the only trophies that the Netherland had in the entire football history. The Dutch team had reached the World Cup final in the 2010 edition, but they also shared a similar fate like their predecessor in 1974 and 1978.

A team that had produced many skilful players via their Total Football philosophies had not achieved some height against them since these tournaments.

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