Following a long absence from major tournaments in international football, the Netherlands are back with the hope of presenting themselves as genuine challengers for the UEFA Euro 2020 title.
This year’s edition of the continental championship is going to be the Netherlands first major tournament since the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Following their third-place finish that year, the Oranje endured years of disappointment and humiliation as they failed to qualify for the 2016 Euro and then the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The Netherlands’ route through the qualification rounds showcased what to expect from the young team. The team was dominant and a series of convincing wins over Belarus, Germany, Estonia and Northern Ireland meant that they finished second in their group behind the Die Mannschaft.
The Oranje are placed in Group C in Euro 2020 alongside Austria, North Macedonia and Ukraine. While this sounds like a rather easy group, the individual quality of both Austria and Ukraine can pose a great threat to the Netherlands.
The Netherlands squad for Euro 2020
Manager Frank de Boer has gone with a blend of experience and youth. The likes of Daley Blind, Stefan de Vrij and Matthijs de Ligt form a stern backline, while a midfield of Georginio Wijnaldum, Frenkie de Jong and Davy Klaassen provide energy and spark. The surprise exclusion was that of Steven Bergwijn.
Up front, Memphis Depay and Quincy Prome bring pace while the poaching skills of Luuk de Jong will also come in handy.
Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg, Tim Krul, Marco Bizot
Defenders: Daley Blind, Stefan de Vrij, Joel Veltman, Matthijs de Ligt, Nathan Ake, Denzel Dumfries, Patrick van Aanholt, Owen Wijndal, Jurrien Timber
Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum (captain), Frenkie de Jong, Davy Klaassen, Marten de Roon, Ryan Gravenberch, Teun Koopmeiners
Forwards: Memphis Depay, Quincy Promes, Luuk de Jong, Steven Berghuis, Donyell Malen, Wout Weghorst, Cody Gakpo
SWOT Analysis of the Netherlands Euro 2020 squad
A quick glance at the Netherlands midfield portrays most of the picture. In Frenkie de Jong and captain Georginio Wijnaldum, the team has arguably one of the most reliable and solid midfield personnel in the competition. The duo is joined by Atalanta’s most trusted man, Marten de Roon while Davy Klaassen is there to make things interesting as well. Klaassen, in particular, will be one to watch given his success in the 2020/21 Eredivisie season where he scored 12 goals and provided three assists.
Things are looking interesting in attack too as Memphis Depay heads into the tournament after scoring 20 league goals in France’s Ligue 1. Young Donyell Malen scored 27 goals in all competitions for PSV Eindhoven meaning that the team does have potent scorers in the squad.
The one evident piece the Netherlands will lack is the presence of Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk. The leader of the pack, van Dijk’s availability would have assured the Netherlands a leader at the back. While they do have Blind, de Ligt and de Vrij, the qualities that van Dijk brings are completely different. The team has, in fact, lost two players due to injury as midfielder Donny van de Beek is out of the competition too.
Apart from that, the Netherlands have shown evident weakness under Frank de Boer too. The team has not only struggled to score, but their defence has been leaky too. Since the appointment of the former Crystal Palace manager, the Oranje have won just six games with some of those victories coming against the likes of Poland, Bosnia, Latvia, Gibraltar and Georgia. They have lost to Turkey, Italy and have drawn against Scotland during de Boer’s tenure. It’s against the big teams that the Dutch have struggled for results.
Given his uninspiring managerial career in club football and the Dutch’s recent form, it remains to be seen if he can turn things around.
One area where the team can capitalize is the link between their attack and midfield. The likes of de Jong and Wijnaldum will be key to their success while Depay, despite being 27, is now a senior member in attack. A successful liaison between these two areas could work wonders for the team.
That coupled with a relatively easy group means the Netherlands are outright favourites to make it to the knockout stage but that’s when things will get trickier.
While the Netherlands don’t have the Wesley Sneijders of the world anymore, the form and use of Marten de Roon is likely to have a big impact on their fortunes. An underrated player, de Roon does not have the goals to show, but the sheer work rate of the midfielder means the team has a player ready to chase down lost causes and never stop running.
Another threat that the team carries comes in Depay himself. The former Manchester United forward is a constant presence in de Boer’s 5-3-2 setup and will be the Netherlands’ primary source for getting goals in the competition.
Featured photo: AFP / Francois Walschaerts