Football News

Netherlands route to the Euro 2024 final: Oranje one win away from Berlin

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 9:30, 10 July 2024

Netherlands are in the Euro 2024 semi-finals, so we’ve looked at who they might face en route to a potential final.

Unlike in previous tournaments, Netherlands were not among the pre-tournament favourites to win Euro 2024, and they didn’t finish strongly in their group. However, Oranje did enough to make it through to the knockout stages and are now in the semi-finals.

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So, who could Netherlands face in Europe’s biggest international football tournament?

Latest Netherlands odds to win the tournament
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Netherlands to win Euro 2024

Netherlands’ potential route to Euro 2024 final

Netherlands’ route as Group D’s third-placed side

Last 16: 3-0 vs Romania – The Netherlands produced an excellent all-round performance, especially after Cody Gakpo gave them the lead halfway through the first half. Two Donyell Malen goals put some well-deserved gloss on the scoreline as Romania rarely threatened to come back into the game.

Quarter-finals: 2-1 vs Turkey – Unlike the previous round, this game showcased the Netherlands’ powers of recovery as they came from a goal behind to seal a first European Championship semi-final appearance in 20 years.

Semi-finals: Netherlands will face Group C winners England — having avoided Gareth Southgate’s men in the round of 16.

Final: Awaiting in Berlin will be Spain. This would be a repeat of the 2010 World Cup final, which Netherlands lost.

Netherlands Group D results

2-1 vs Poland – Netherlands had to come from behind to beat a stubborn Poland side but they showed the grit and perseverance needed to win. The Oranje ended the game with 20 shots and there was certainly some promise but their deficiencies were also on show, conceding seven shots on goal and being overrun in midfield at times.

0-0 vs France  – In recent history France had been a dominant force against Netherlands, winning seven of their last eight showdowns. They even won two contests 4-0, including on Koeman’s first game back in charge. This time we got the first 0-0 in 51 European Championship games. Xavi Simons could have scored the winner, had the referee not disallowed his late strike in a contentious VAR decision.

2-3 vs Austria  – Netherlands went into this game top of the group, knowing their destiny was in their hands. But they went behind three times, and failed to comeback the third and final time to fall to a 3-2 defeat. It saw Netherlands drop to third, which was unthinkable at the start of the tournament.

Netherlands’ reasons for optimism

Oranje faced an existential crisis not long ago, failing to qualify for back-to-back tournaments. The dearth of talent and a lost generation were cited for this sharp decline on the international stage. Under Koeman’s initial leadership, the ship had turned, and now qualification is no longer taken for granted. He can call upon an exciting crop of emerging stars and credible veterans who are mainstays at Europe’s biggest clubs.

However, recent championship performances have seen the Dutch fall below expectations, and their exit from Qatar 2022 — losing to eventual winners Argentina on penalties after staging a remarkable turnaround — still hurts. But, again, the calibre of players at Koeman’s disposal can be described as an embarrassment of riches; there are match-winners capable of changing games from seemingly nowhere.

Netherlands potential roadblocks

It is said that a fish rots from the head down. There are doubts about Koeman’s ability to lead this generation of players, and questions about his tactical prowess remain. Since his re-appointment, the process hasn’t been smooth, with a few uninspiring performances and questionable team selections.

Furthermore, they have struggled with the long-standing issue of players not being able to replicate their club form at the international level, with some high-profile players being singled out. This is where Oranje could unravel. Koeman’s pragmatism has frequently stifled any Dutch creativity, and if he goes into this competition with a defensive mindset, then Netherlands progression could be limited.

While the talent pool is not in question, the one pulling the strings determines whether they can recreate the summer of 1988 or endure another frustrating tournament campaign.

Ronald Koeman tactical insights

During the qualifying campaign, Koeman experimented with different formations, starting with a 4-3-3 variant before switching to a back-three, which for a while seemed likely how Oranje would play this summer. But he’s reverted to the back four at Euro 2024.

Nathan Ake shifts over to the left, with Virgil van Dijk and Stefan de Vrij the centre-backs. This allows Netherlands to transition to a back three if the game dictates at times. Denzel Dumfries provides attacking threat from the right.

Frenkie de Jong was guaranteed to start in the heart of the Netherlands midfield but has been ruled out through injury, meaning PSV duo Jerdy Schouten and Joey Veerman occupy the central midfield positions alongside Tijjani Reijnders.

However, after his brutal substitution against Austria, there could be limited time for Veerman going forward, which opens the likelihood of Xavi Simons moving into a No.10 role with Jeremie Frimpong, Steven Bergwijn or Donyell Malen occupying the vacant right flank.

Oranje‘s attack is led by Memphis Depay, with Cody Gakpo on the left wing.

Fan and media perspectives

“In Netherlands, we have 17 million national-team managers,” former Oranje head coach Frank de Boer once quipped.

Despite Netherlands’ impressive footballing history, fans often have high expectations for their national team in tournaments. While the team has won one major trophy and appeared in three finals, expecting them to perform at the same level as Europe’s top teams is unrealistic.

Many observers now recognize this fact, and even though fan support remains strong, there is a growing sense of realism. However, missteps will be scrutinised and overanalysed, especially since the Dutch will field a squad of talented players.

If the team clicks and goes on a successful run, expect enthusiastic support that could rival Max Verstappen’s popularity.

How Netherlands qualified for Euro 2024

Netherlands finished second in Group B to qualify for Euro 2024, losing twice to eventual winners France.

European Championship Qualification – Group B
Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost GF GA Points
1 France 8 7 1 0 29 3 22
2 Netherlands 8 6 0 2 17 7 18
3 Greece 8 4 1 3 14 8 13
4 Republic of Ireland 8 2 0 6 9 10 6
5 Gibraltar 8 0 0 8 0 41 0