The Oranje have set the tournament on fire with their attractive style of football.
The Netherlands are a country with rich history and tradition in the beautiful game. The country has produced the likes of Johan Cruyff, Marco van Basten and numerous others over the years. The Netherlands have reached the biggest of stages including three World Cup finals. They lifted their only international title when they won the 1988 European Championship.
But, over the last decade, their influence has waned a bit, as the Dutch spent a few years in the wilderness. Post their semi-final run in the 2014 World Cup, the Netherlands failed to qualify for the 2016 Euros and the 2018 World Cup.
The Dutch returned to international tournaments with Euro 2020. They have blazed through the group stages with a 100% record. Playing fearless and attractive football, the Dutch have once again caught people’s attention. It has made them one of the teams to watch out for in this tournament. Let’s analyze why the Dutch could possibly be the dark-horses of Euro 2020.
5. Defensive record
The Netherlands have put up strong defensive numbers in this campaign. In three group stage games, they have conceded only two goals. They came in with a blow to the squad due to the absence of the influential Virgil van Dijk.
But, they haven’t felt his absence as the trio of Stefan de Vrij, Matthijs de Ligt and Daley Blind have managed affairs in the back with comfort. The defenders of the Netherlands also offer an attacking outlet from set-pieces.
4. Comparatively easy run to the semis
The Netherlands could potentially foresee a run to the semi-finals of Euro 2020. They face the Czech Republic in the Round of 16 where they would be expected to win.
If they overcome their Round of 16 challenge, they would face Denmark in the quarterfinals which is another potentially easy game for them. Therefore, the Dutch would fancy their chances of at least going till the semi-finals considering how well they have played so far.
3. Strong midfield
A key reason for the success of any team is a strong midfield. For a side like the Netherlands, it is essential that their midfield is quick, nimble and aggressive. Luckily for them, they have the right combination to satisfy all three traits.
The midfield shapes into a five and in players like Marten de Roon and Frenkie de Jong, the Dutch have two capable dribblers and carriers of the ball. Georginio Wijnaldum is the force in midfield who supplements the attack and offers pace and solidity.
The wing-backs in Denzel Dumfries and Patrick van Aanholt have excelled in providing width to the Dutch’s play. There could be games where the Dutch would be expected to hit the opposition on the counter-attack. In this regard, they will look to their capable midfielders. Players like Wijnaldum and Dumfries are among the top scorers in the tournament, which speaks volumes about their capability in attack.
2. Good mix of youth and experience in the squad
The Dutch came into the tournament without the aforementioned Virgil van Dijk. But, that hasn’t hindered their balance a lot. The core group has a good mix of youth and experience. They possess experienced players like Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Daley Blind. These players are well-rounded with an exciting young core of players like Matthijs de Ligt, Frenkie de Jong, Donyell Malen, Jurrien Timber and Denzel Dumfries
The Oranje have the eighth youngest squad at Euro 2020 and therefore have a group that is solid and well-rounded in all departments with no dearth of options.
1. De Boer’s attacking formation
The Netherlands have always been a side that revelled in possession and attacking football. It was a concept masterminded by the great Johan Cruyff, who focused on quick movement of the ball and positional awareness.
It is a concept that has been taken up by Frank de Boer with this squad. The former Crystal Palace manager drew criticism for employing a slow and defensive approach in his first few games. But, his tweak to a 3-5-2 has unlocked the creative potential of his side with plenty of players who offer attacking quality from De Jong to Depay.
The emergence of Dumfries has accentuated De Boer’s tactics and with a ferocious attack backed by a strong midfield, the Dutch have all the ingredients to mount an attacking threat to their opponents.