Nations League Finals approaching: A look at The Netherlands29 May 2019
Credit Photo - @OnsOranje
The Netherlands are back! And in some style as they topped their Group A qualifying table above Germany and world champions France.
Despite losing their opener in Paris, the Dutch recovered with two home victories and a draw in Germany to secure their place in Portugal this summer.
Having surprisingly failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, ‘de Oranje’ will meet England in their semi final on June 6th.
Coach Ronald Koeman prefers a well balanced 4-3-3 formation, with wide attackers that are very much capable of dropping in to make a five man midfield when necessary.
Captain Virgil Van Dijk of Liverpool forms a dominant central defensive partnership with hugely impressive Ajax (for now) youngster Matthijs de Ligt.
The strength and physical attributes of Van Dijk and de Ligt will pose a major threat from set pieces.
Barcelona bound Frenkie de Jong joins all action Liverpool man Gino Wijnaldum in the middle of the park.
Those two are given some freedom by Atalanta’s defence screening midfielder Marten de Roon, who acts as a pivot to dictate play from deep.
The midfield trio all have the ability to interchange positions, making the Dutch engine room both technically superb and fluid.
At the top end, Lyon’s Memphis Depay has been in sparkling form this season and is certainly The Netherlands dangerman and biggest threat.
The aforementioned wide forwards are the tricky, unpredictable Quincy Promes (Sevilla) and experienced former Liverpool and Fulham man Ryan Babel.
PSV youngster Steven Bergwijn, whose impressive form has largely flown under the radar this season, is another option available to them in offensive positions.
Though the Dutch are much improved under Koeman, they currently perhaps lack the strength in depth synonymous with the great Netherlands squads of the past.
The feel good factor has returned though, and much like their semi final opponents England, The Netherlands have built up some momentum heading into the finals.
They go into the showpiece as 3/1 third favourites, marginally behind England and favourites Portugal.
Their showdown with England is set up to be a close game, with not much to choose between the sides and both in good form on the whole.
If the Dutch can overcome Gareth Southgates’ men, they’ll firmly believe they can return home with the trophy to seal a successful first year in charge for Koeman.