The Netherlands go to Euro 2020 amongst the favourites to win the tournament, and captain Virgil van Dijk will look to lead the Oranje back to the top of Europe at last.
Netherlands Euro 2020: Strengths
The Netherlands come into Euro 2020 as one of the most exciting sides in world football, with a glut of impressive attacking and defensive players at their disposal. Rewind even a few years and this was not the case at all, with the Dutch looking some way short of the top teams in world football, and they were punished for their lack of world class talent as they missed out on both Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup. However, now, the Dutch return to the biggest competition in European football, and they will target a triumph in the competition for the first time since 1988.
One of the Netherlands’ strengths going into this tournament is that while there is no expectation on them, their fans would have been very relieved to have seen them qualify following their awful run recently, and so the team on the whole will be looking to make up for the failings of the previous iterations of the side. Along with this, perhaps their greatest strength is captain Virgil van Dijk. The Liverpool centre-half has proved himself to be the best defender on the planet right now and he couples powerful old-school defending when it is needed and the mind and ball playing ability of a midfielder, with van Dijk starting more than one move in Liverpool red. If the Dutch are to win the tournament this summer, the influential defender will be a huge reason why they succeed.
Finally, the Dutch boast a superbly dynamic midfield that makes playing against the side incredibly difficult. Georginio Wijnaldum, Frenkie de Jong and Donny van De Beek are supremely talented players that all bring different levels of ball playing ability to the side, with De Jong particularly good, but what is most important for the outfit is the fact all three add a level of energy that hustles and harries teams so often, and this makes it incredibly difficult to play around the Dutch midfield with the opposition given little time to settle on the ball. This Oranje midfield will be another reason why few teams will want to face the side during the tournament.
Euro 2020 Players to watch: Netherlands
Virgil van Dijk
What a player the Dutch captain is. Virgil van Dijk has transformed himself into the world’s best defender with a series of exceptionally commanding performances at the heart of the Liverpool defence. As previously mentioned, van Dijk has proved he is a phenomenally powerful centre-half that can link that no-nonsense defending when the Reds’ have their backs against the wall and incredible comfort and proficiency on the ball. Whereas some centre-backs in the modern game are often culpable for conceding goals due to their inability to see a situation for what it is, van Dijk meanwhile always seems to make the right decision at the right time, making him invaluable in high pressure situations. The runner-up in the 2019 Ballon d’Or ceremony was fully deserving of his place as the second-best player in the world and many would argue he was worthy of more. Perhaps he can go one better on his own personal second-place finish at that awards ceremony by leading the Dutch to the trophy this summer.
Memphis Depay’s torrid time as a Manchester United player proved to be something of an anomaly in the player’s career. The forward only managed to net two goals in 33 matches in an unhappy few years in Manchester before finally getting out of the club and moving on to pastures new. Since moving to Lyon in Ligue 1, Depay has managed to net 43 goals in 101 matches at the time of writing and he provides a real spark for the French side. For Holland, Depay has proved to be an impressive scoring asset as he has been able to net six goals in four matches for the side in 2019 and he is made all the more important by the fact that the Dutch do not really have a world class striker in the same ilk as Harry Kane or Kylian Mbappe. Depay’s job over the last few years has been to provide that spark out wide, with his outrageously quick-feet and clever movement on and off the ball making him a nightmare for full-backs to deal with, while he also has to turn up and score the goals when the rest of the team are struggling to get forward. Depay struggled when under huge pressure to perform at Old Trafford earlier in his career and while he has improved markedly over the last few years, it will be hugely interesting to see whether he can shoulder the pressure of playing consistently against the best teams throughout the tournament.
Like van Dijk, Georginio Wijnaldum has been able to utilise his time at Liverpool to become a superb player. The midfielder has been able to create an impressive partnership with captain Jordan Henderson along with the fairly consistently rotated Fabinho and Naby Keita, and he is fully deserving of his place at the centre of the Reds’ midfield. His incredible engine makes him so tough to get around, his eye for a pass has been steadily improving, his desire to get back and defend and make a nuisance out of himself is huge to Liverpool while he has become proficient at popping up with important goals at important times. Indeed, this attribute has been made all the more important for the Dutch team by their lack of a real striker, and his 18 goals in the orange of Holland from midfield are huge and show he is a genuine goal-threat.
Netherlands Euro 2020 Squad: Weaknesses
The Netherlands’ main weakness revolves around their inability to find a striker that can consistently score goals. Robin van Persie remains Holland’s all-time leading scorer with 50 goals in 102 matches, and they are yet to find a truly consistent player to replace the former-Arsenal and Manchester United striker. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is the second-highest scorer in the nation’s history with 42 strikes in 76 games and has a far better record, but he has not scored an international goal since October 2015, with his last game in the orange of the Dutch coming in the same year. Holland’s last squad boasts a lot of talent in the wide areas with the likes of Depay, Quincy Promes, Ryan Babel and Steven Bergwijn all talented wingers, but Luuk de Jong is the top scoring striker in their latest squad with five goals in 24 international appearances, 13 less than midfielder Wijnaldum, who is not particularly well-known for his scoring record. Their lack of options up front is incredibly worrying going into the tournament,
Netherlands Euro 2020 Squad: Who could miss out?
Yes, we know we have him pinned as one of the players that could light up the Dutch side and the tournament, but the Lyon forward has been struggling on the sidelines after he ruptured his anterior cruciate knee ligament in a 1-0 loss to Rennes back in December. As things stand, it is difficult to know whether the forward will be available for the tournament this summer due to that injury, while he will also likely have to come back a few weeks before the end of the season if he is to force his way back into the Dutch squad as game time will be crucial. If Depay is fit and firing, there is no question that he should go to the tournament, but if he is still injured or struggling to prove his fitness, he would prove to be a huge loss for Holland.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is the highest-scoring Dutch player that is still active and he is only nine short of eclipsing Robin van Persie’s record and becoming the all-time leading scorer for the nation. However, his time with the Netherlands seems to be over, with the 36-year-old likely to have played his last game for the Dutch already. At the time of writing, Huntelaar has struggled to really establish himself in the Ajax team, with only three matches in nine seeing the forward play more than 60 minutes, while four of these appearances have been for 20 minutes or less. Huntelaar may be a player that is close to being Holland’s all-time leading scorer, but we think his time scoring goals for the Dutch is well and truly in the past, and he will likely not get a seat on the plane.
Predicted Netherlands Euro 2020 Squad with odds:
As soon as the odds for the Netherlands squad become available, they will be posted here.
Our Euro 2020 Predictions for this Netherlands Euro 2020 squad
Finishing spot: Runner-up
Holland have a well-balanced side that we think can genuinely battle for glory this summer. Virgil van Dijk as a leader will give them a talismanic force at the back, Georginio Wijnaldum will give the side a non-stop engine in midfield, Frenkie de Jong is a supremely gifted technical player, and if Memphis Depay is to make it to the tournament in the summer he will give the side a real spark up front that will worry teams. With a lot of time to make up for following their failures to make Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, Holland’s players will want to ensure they make it out of the group and battle to the latter-stages of the tournament. A lack of a real goal-scoring striker will hurt their chances this summer, but with the talismanic van Dijk at the back along with a very talented and mobile midfield, we can see them getting to the final of the tournament, but we are not convinced by their ability to win the competition, especially if France, Belgium and England’s squads really turn up.