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Ronald Koeman and the Netherlands Seek First Trophy in 36 Years

Ronald Koeman and the Netherlands Seek First Trophy in 36 Years

The Dutch national team has endured a long drought without a championship, despite boasting some of the finest and most complete squads over the years. Since their first and only European Championship win in 1988, they’ve failed to get their hands on any trophy, coming closest at the 2010 World Cup final where they lost to Spain in extra time.

Yet, Oranje has been one of Europe’s top-performing teams, both continentally and on the world stage. In their first European Championship appearance, the Netherlands secured a third-place finish, losing 3-1 to eventual winners Czechoslovakia in the semi-finals. After winning the trophy in 1988, they made it to the semi-finals the following year, falling short to Denmark on penalties. The Netherlands made it to the semi-finals in Euro 2000 and again in Euro 2004, finishing third in both tournaments. It’s been a series of Euro disappointments for them ever since, as they’ve only managed to make it to the quarter-finals once.

The 2024 Euros in Germany present another chance for the Dutch to finally break the deadlock, and the Ronald Koeman-led team must be ready for the task ahead as they prepare to lock horns with other heavyweights. Oranje is not considered favorites in this tournament, but with the calibre of players in their squad, they certainly will be one of the most feared teams. Here’s an in-depth analysis of the Netherlands’ EURO 2024 outlook, including Koeman’s possible line-up and the Dutch’s likely opponents.

The Netherlands Look to Bounce Back at the Euros

Memories of the Netherlands’ dominance in competitive tournaments appear to be fading, as the Dutch national team has either failed to qualify or suffered early defeats since placing third at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. They missed out on the 2016 Euros and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, and crashed out of Euro 2020 in the Round of 16, after a shocking 2-0 defeat against the Czech Republic, a score that resulted in the sacking of former head coach Frank de Boer.

Louis Van Gaal took charge of the Dutch national team and led an impressive World Cup campaign, which ended in the quarterfinals. The Netherlands had topped their group with a perfect record and were able to see off the United States convincingly. Their exciting run would later come to an end after a dramatic shootout loss to Lionel Messi’s Argentina.

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Van Gaal surprisingly announced his resignation shortly after the World Cup, and former national team manager Ronald Koeman was re-appointed as head coach on January 1, 2023. His first match in charge was not the homecoming he would have hoped for as the Netherlands lost 4-0 to France in Game 1 of the EURO 2024 Qualifiers. Koeman would end up losing three of his first four matches as manager, including a 4-2 loss to Croatia in the Nations League semi-final and a second defeat against France.

The Netherlands have since won all but one of their last five matches, the most recent loss coming against Euro 2024 hosts Germany.

Koeman Needs to Find the Perfect Formation Quickly

With his team falling short against tougher opponents, Koeman will go into the Euros plotting to fill all the loopholes on the Netherlands roster. The former Barcelona coach has struggled to find the perfect starting formation for his roster and will need a quick solution before his side’s first group-stage game against Poland on June 16.

Brighton’s goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen will likely hold the starting spot in front of goal, although Mark Flekken could make a case for himself as the tournament progresses. Nick Olij and Justin Biljow could make the roster as extra substitutes, with one of the two young goalies certain to make the flight to Germany per the latest squad rules released by UEFA.

Koeman will need to decide whether to stick to a three or four-man defense. Over the years, the Netherlands has been known to utilize a 4-3-3, but under Koeman, this formation has failed woefully. The 61-year-old will likely settle for a 3-5-2 approach in Germany, giving room for the Dutch to exploit the wings. A backline with three centre-backs could work in favour of the Netherlands as Oranje boasts some of the best players in the world to grace this position.

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Koeman will have three solid defenders in Nathan Ake, Virgil Van Dijk, and Matthijs De Ligt. All three players are starters for their respective clubs and have been solid this season. Add to this list Denzel Dumfries and Daley Blind to lead the flanks, and the Netherlands will stand a chance against some of the best teams in the tournament. Not to mention Jeremy Frimpong and Mickey van de Ven, who have both been outstanding at the club level and could also compete for a first-team spot this summer.

Frenkie de Jong will be the heart and soul of the Netherlands midfield, although his companions at the center of the pitch remain up in the air. Jerdy Schouten could fit into this role after a stellar season at PSV Eindhoven. Marten de Roon and Teun Koopmeiners are great defensive midfield options, and Koeman could also slot in Gini Wijnaldum at center midfield. The Al-Ettifaq captain was absent from the 2022 World Cup squad after suffering a tibia fracture.

On offense, Koeman could utilize one man up front, a trademark style he has been known for throughout his lengthy managerial career. Wout Weghorst will potentially be his point man at the Euros, with Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo playing right behind him. RB Leipzig loanee Xavi Simons will complete the Dutch attack, while Atletico Madrid forward Memphis Depay might have to settle for a place on the sidelines.

Potential Opponents of Oranje

The Netherlands are in one of the toughest groups in the Euros and will have to see off Poland, Austria, and arch-nemesis France to clinch the first position. There will be heavy demand for Netherlands tickets, especially for their game against Les Bleus, as the two European giants clash early in the tournament.

If they top Group D, they will face the runner-up of Group F, with Turkiye being potential opponents, or Georgia in the Round of 16. The quarterfinals could see Koeman’s men face Belgium, and a win could see them face England in the semi-finals. If Oranje makes it to July 14, they could face either Spain or France again in the final.

Football writer at AllSoccer. Graduate of Computer Science from Kenule Beeson Saro-Wiwa Polytechnic. Dreamt of becoming a footballer, find self writing about football.

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