Next up in our EURO 2020 preview series is the Netherlands. The Oranje will return to the European Championship this summer, after missing out on qualification for the previous tournament held in 2016.
Netherlands EURO 2020 Squad
Goalkeepers: Maarten Stekelenburg (Ajax), Jasper Cillessen (Valencia), Tim Krul (Norwich City).
Defenders: Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus), Daley Blind (Ajax), Joel Veltman (Brighton), Jurrien Timber (Ajax), Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace), Denzel Dumfries (PSV Eindhoven), Stefan de Vrij (Inter), Owen Wijndal (AZ Alkmaar).
Midfielders: Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax), Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool), Donny van de Beek (Manchester United), Marten de Roon (Atalanta), Davy Klaassen (Ajax), Teun Koopmeiners (AZ Alkmaar).
Forwards: Memphis Depay (Olympique Lyon), Luuk de Jong (Sevilla), Wout Weghorst (Wolfsburg), Quincy Promes (Spartak Moscow), Cody Gakpo (PSV Eindhoven), Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven), Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord).
Matthjis De Ligt: Many eyes will be on Juventus center-half Matthjis De Ligt, as the 21-year-old will lead the backline in place of the injured Virgil Van Dijk. Despite playing in his first senior major tournament for The Flying Dutchmen, De Ligt previously captained Ajax in 2018 at the tender age of 17, nine months before receiving the European Golden Boy award.
De Ligt is a hard-nosed defender who’s not afraid to get stuck in. Manager Frank de Boer’s back-four system also suits De Ligt, as he is well-versed in the right centre-half position for club and country. Winning a major tournament often requires a strong backline, and De Ligt’s leadership skills and youthful exuberance is a big plus in an otherwise ageing Dutch backline.
Memphis Depay: Memphis Depay was one of the Netherlands’ hidden gems at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The-then 20-year-old entered the tournament off the back of a breakthrough season at Ajax, before writing his name in Dutch football folklore as the youngest Dutchman to score a goal at the World Cup. The 27-year old is now a senior member of the Dutch side, and the Lyon man’s versatility will be in full display, as he can either lead the attack in the centre-forward position or play as a left-winger. Depay scored 20 goals and provided 12 assists in the Ligue 1, and his set-piece ability makes him dangerous with a dead ball.
The Netherlands EURO 2020 journey kicks off on Sunday, 13 June when the Oranje squares off against Ukraine in Group C action. The Dutch will then face Austria four days later before rounding off group play against North Macedonia on the 21st. On paper, the Netherlands should make amends for previous tournament failures and progress past the group stages.
Their recent 2-2 draw against Scotland suggests room for improvement, but that may be attributed to a change in the formation. The main issue with the Netherlands is their lack of goal-scoring prowess. Previous Dutch generations boasted the likes of Marco Van Basten, Patrick Kluivert and Ruud Van Nistelrooy, but this current side hasn’t had a formidable striker since the days of Robin Van Persie.
Overall, the Netherlands’ EURO 2020 hopes mainly rest on their forwards. The Oranje have experienced goalkeepers, a decent backline, and quality players like Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong and Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum in the midfield.
The Netherlands tend to play an attractive, easy-on-the-eye sort of football, but the game is won by scoring goals and not simply keeping possession. A victory in the opener against Ukraine should set the tone for a budding Euro 2020 experience. Anything less, and the Oranje will disappoint the hopes of a football-mad nation for at least another tournament.
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Main Image Credits- Embed from Getty Images