Why Denzel Dumfries is the 'next big thing' in Dutch football
The 25-year-old has made heads turn with his performances at Euro 2020.
The Netherlands gave a resounding statement of their potential with a 2-0 win over Austria. They became the third team to qualify for the Euro 2020 Round of 16 after Italy and Belgium. Goals from Memphis Depay (penalty) and Denzel Dumfries sealed the win for the Oranje on the night.
Despite having lesser of the ball than their opponents, the Dutch were assured in possession. They were swift on the counter-attack and created plenty of chances, which could've increased the margin of the win by a few more goals.
Having qualified for the knockout rounds, they will now face the (best performing) third-placed team in either Group D, E, or F.
Denzel Dumfries impresses yet again
Following his impressive performance against Ukraine in the previous game, Denzel Dumfries put in another scintillating display against Austria. He also won the penalty that Memphis Depay converted to give the Netherlands the lead in the 11th minute.
The PSV Eindhoven wing-back finished with a 60% passing accuracy, far lesser than his 82% in the previous game. But, he made up for it with five defensive duels won, including four aerial duels. Once again, his pace and work-rate were a constant menace for the Austrians on the right flank.
Dumfries' xG in the game was a healthy 0.51. He did no harm to it with a goal that confirmed the win. The 25-year-old, who had never scored in his previous 19 appearances for the Dutch, has two goals in the last two games. He is now among the competition's top goalscorers alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, Romelu Lukaku and Ciro Immobile.
What makes Dumfries tick in Frank de Boer's system?
Owing to his performances in the first two games, it is clear that Dumfries is now a vital cog in the Dutch wheel. His electric pace and dribbling helps him burst ahead and trouble opposition defences.
A 3-5-2 system requires the wing-backs to be pacy and Dumfries is exactly that. Therefore, he fits hand-in-glove in Frank de Boer's system. His overlapping runs combined with the on-ball ingenuity of fellow players like Frenkie de Jong and Gini Wijnaldum help the Dutch to be quick in transition. This was evident during their second goal in the game against Austria.
Playing on the right, Dumfries is an all-action player who offers additional width to the Dutch's gameplay, the prototypical modern wing-back. But, he is not always about pace and is also a tactically savvy player. Against Ukraine, Dumfries finished with four crosses and two accurate long balls.
Against Ukraine, Dumfries had an outstanding xG ratio of 0.93 which gives enough evidence of his attacking capabilities. But, he doesn't rescind his defensive responsibilities. His 6'2'' frame means that Dumfries doesn't shirk away from a challenge and relishes physical battles. Dumfries won seven defensive duels against Ukraine and five against Austria (including four aerial duels in each game).
Can Dumfries help the Dutch to the final in this edition?
It is unfair to assess a player's potential based only on two games. The Dutch are still not at their fluent best and that goes for Dumfries too. There are a few chinks in his armour including his dribbling. But, his brisk gameplay and tireless work-rate are a blessing for the national side.
He would be an important player for the Dutch, especially in games where they would require quick counter-attacks. His pace would help them get past opposition defences.
If Dumfries can improve his dribbling and passing, then rest assured that he could take the Netherlands deep into the tournament. He has already proved his capabilities at club level. Dumfries has scored 13 goals for PSV in 89 games, despite playing as a wing-back. He is only 25, which could also make the continent's biggest clubs take notice of his burgeoning talent.
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