Football News

Netherlands Route To The Final: Potential Opponents for Oranje at Euro 2024

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 20:00, 9 May 2024

As Euro 2024 approaches, we examine who Oranje might face on their way to the European Championships final.

Netherlands Route To The Euro 2024 Final: Potential Path

Unlike in past tournaments, the Netherlands are not among the favourites to win the summer championship. Oranje finished second in Group B to qualify for Euro 2024, losing twice to eventual winners France, who they will face again soon. Ronald Koeman’s team has been placed in Group D along with Les Bleus, and they should feel confident about their chances of qualifying. However, it won’t be easy since Poland and Austria provide stiff competition to finish behind Didier Deschamp’s men. So, who could the Netherlands face in Europe’s biggest international football tournament?

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

The Netherlands’ potential route to Euro 2024 final

The Netherlands Group D fixtures

vs Poland (16 June, 2pm BST) – This opening contest holds fond memories for Oranje and their head coach Ronald Koeman, as 36 years earlier, in the only Euro 1988 game held at the Volksparkstadion, the Dutch overcame hosts West Germany — winning 2-1 — to reach the final and create lasting memories. They’ll be hoping for a winning return when this current iteration of the Netherlands faces a Poland side that had to go through the qualifying playoffs to reach this summer’s tournament. Recent history is on the side as they’ve won six of their last seven meetings with the Eastern European nation. A positive result in this game is crucial for the Netherlands if they hope to escape Group D, given the tough opponent they face next.

vs France (21 June, 8pm BST) – Xavi Simons will feel at home when the Netherlands and France, rivals in the qualifying campaign, face off in a match-up that Dutch supporters are not eagerly anticipating. France has been a dominant force against the Netherlands, winning seven of their last eight showdowns. They even won two contests 4-0, including on Koeman’s first game back in charge. It will take an exceptional performance to replicate the Dutch’s success at their Euro 2008 meeting, where Marco van Basten’s side produced a stunning 4-1 victory. However, given the current state of development of both nations, the chances of a similar result seem doubtful.

vs Austria (25 June, 5pm BST) – Dutch fans would be hoping to visit Berlin more than once this summer. By now, Oranje would know what they must do to progress, and anything less than that would be considered a failure. Austria will be a formidable opponent. They finished as runners-up in their Euro 2024 qualifying group, just one point behind unbeaten Belgium, scoring an average of 2.1 goals per game. However, history favours the Netherlands as they have won their last seven meetings, including the previous encounter at Euro 2020, where they won 2-0.

If the Netherlands finish top of Group D

Not many people are predicting this scenario, but if Koeman’s team wins Group D, they will face the runner-up of Group F next, likely to be Turkey based on the betting odds. Portugal is expected to win the group, and the Czech Republic is predicted to finish third ahead of newcomers Georgia, who have already made it to this stage.

If the Dutch team progresses to the quarter-finals, they will probably face the winner of Group E, which is expected to be Belgium’s neighbour. This match should be an exciting one. In the semi-finals, they could face either the winner of Group C or the runner-up of Group A/B. According to oddsmakers, England is likely to win Group C, while Switzerland or Italy could be the runner-up of Group A/B. Beating England or the defending champions will be difficult.

If they reach the final, the Netherlands could face any teams in Euro 2024.

If the Netherlands finish runner-up in Group D

According to pre-tournament predictions, France is expected to win Group D, and it’s reasonable to assume that Oranje will finish second. In the Round of 16, Oranje will likely face Ukraine, who is expected to finish as runners-up in Group E, while Belgium is predicted to finish as winners and Romania third, ahead of Slovakia.

However, Oranje’s quarter-final opponent is more challenging, as they will likely face their bête noire, Portugal, a team that has eliminated them from previous competitions. If they manage to break this hoodoo, they could face the winner of Group F in the semi-finals, which could be historic rivals Germany or Spain, both of whom have a past with Oranje, both good and bad.

If the Netherlands finish third in Group D

In football, anything can happen; we’ve seen previous Dutch teams underperform in the European Championships, notably in 2012. Koeman’s job could be at risk if they finish third, especially if they don’t make it as one of the four best third-placed teams.

According to early betting odds, the third-placed team in Group D may progress to play against the winner of Group B, Group C or Group E, likely to be Spain, England and Belgium. If they defeat Spain, they will face the winner of Group A or Group C runner-up, probably Germany or Denmark, in the quarter-finals. Later, they will face Portugal, a tough opponent for Oranje, in the potential semi-finals.

If they beat Belgium, they could face France or Turkey in the quarter-finals before playing against England, Scotland or Italy in the last four. The situation will be different if they go up against England in the round of 16, as they will face Group A/B runner-up in the quarter-finals before potentially meeting France (again) or Turkey in the semi-finals.

The 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 winning games from seemingly nowhere.

Oranje goes into Euro 2024 as the group behind the pre-tournament favourites. It may very well be where they want to be, but with no expectations, they can underpromise and then over-deliver.

The 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 since his re-appointment, 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 is likely how Oranje will play this summer.

This approach makes sense since the Dutch team’s greatest strength lies in their defence. In the Premier League, Nathan Ake and Virgil van Dijk have shown their ability to join and build up attacks. At the same time, Denzel Dumfries or understudy Jeremie Frimpong is perfect for the right-wing-back role.

Frenkie de Jong is guaranteed to start in the heart of the Netherlands midfield when available; he missed several qualification games through injury, which saw Feyenoord rising star Mats Wieffer begin his international journey in Barcelona’s man’s absence.

De Jong’s partner is yet to be determined. Tijjani Reijnders, having a stellar debut campaign for AC Milan, seems to have been given the nod. The team’s attack will be led by Memphis Depay, with either Simons and Cody Gakpo or the latter if Koeman goes with a 3-5-2.

Fan and Media Perspectives

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

Despite the 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 scrutinized and overanalyzed, 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.