HomeEuro 2024EURO 2024: Can Netherlands Overcome Key Weaknesses?

EURO 2024: Can Netherlands Overcome Key Weaknesses?

Netherlands at Euro 2024: A Blend of Experience and Uncertainty

Koeman’s Second Coming: A Mixed Bag

As Ronald Koeman embarks on his second stint at the helm of the Netherlands, the atmosphere is one of cautious optimism mingled with scepticism. His previous tenure left a positive imprint, guiding the team to the Nations League final and securing a drama-free qualification for Euro 2020. However, his club management stints in recent times — particularly at Barcelona — were less illustrious, setting a backdrop of doubt against his current role.


Despite these reservations, Koeman’s return is a homecoming of sorts. His deep roots in Dutch football, both as a triumphant player and a coach, inject a sense of national pride and potential into the squad. Yet, the real challenge lies in harmonising a team with evident gaps and varying levels of club play success.

Tactical Setups and Team Dynamics

Koeman’s tactical flexibility has been a focal point since his return. The shift from a preferred back five to a 4-3-3 in recent matches illustrates his search for the right formula. This tactical uncertainty reflects deeper squad issues, particularly the problematic left wing-back position and ongoing concerns about player form and fitness.

The decision to exclude certain players due to limited options or strategic doubts—like Ryan Gravenberch’s inclusion primarily due to injuries in the squad—hints at potential discord or dissatisfaction. Koeman’s blunt public critiques, notably of striker Brian Brobbey’s finishing abilities, add another layer of tension, suggesting that not all is smooth in the Oranje camp.

Stars to Watch and Emerging Talents

Amid these challenges, the squad boasts formidable talents like Virgil van Dijk and Frenkie de Jong, pillars of strength and skill that keep the team competitive. The emergence of players like Jeremie Frimpong from Bayer Leverkusen, who dazzles with his pace and offensive capabilities, offers a glimpse of the dynamic new talent ready to burst onto the international stage.

Photo: IMAGO

Yet, the team’s strength—its remarkable depth in defence, featuring stalwarts like Nathan Ake, Matthijs de Ligt, and the versatile Daley Blind—contrasts sharply with its weaknesses. The attack appears underpowered for a squad of this calibre, relying heavily on players like Memphis Depay, whose fitness is a pivotal concern heading into the tournament.

Strategic and Physical Challenges

Koeman’s desire to utilise a 5-3-2 formation is partly thwarted by injuries and the lack of a robust left wing-back, forcing potential tactical compromises. The absence of key players like Feyenoord’s Quilindschy Hartman to injury compounds these issues, leaving gaps that aren’t easily filled by the current squad.

Moreover, the squad’s overall setup seems disproportionately dependent on a few key players. The midfield, especially, hinges on De Jong’s availability and fitness. His ability to recover in time for the tournament is crucial, as his presence anchors the team’s midfield dynamism and control.

Photo: IMAGO

Cultural Touchstones and National Pride

The Dutch team’s identity is deeply intertwined with the nation’s history and culture. The iconic orange of their kits is more than just a uniform; it symbolises national pride and a storied royal heritage. This vibrant emblem of Dutch spirit will once again colour the stands, echoing a rich tradition that amplifies the team’s presence on the field.

Expectations and Realities

Expectations within the Netherlands are tempered by reality. The defensive solidity provides some assurance, but the lack of a potent attacking force raises questions about their ability to progress deep into the tournament. Their upcoming fixture against France will serve as a crucial barometer of their potential and tactical efficacy.

If the midfield duo of De Jong and PSV’s Jerdy Schouten can harmonise, there’s a chance for the Netherlands to control games and create meaningful chances. Yet, without a reliable plan to break down staunch defences, Koeman’s squad might struggle against more balanced teams.

Koeman’s ambition to join the rare breed of individuals winning the Euros both as a player and coach is formidable. The path is fraught with challenges but also lined with the legacy of 1988 — a reminder of what’s possible under the right circumstances.

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