The Netherlands were sent packing from Euro 2020 this evening by a well-organised Czech Republic team who can now look forward to a quarter-final date with Denmark on July 3 in Baku.
Frank de Boer’s men were strong favourites at the Puskás Aréna but were outthought on the day before shooting themselves in the foot, handing initiative over to their opponents, who didn’t need a second invitation as they ran out 0-2 winners.
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Before this result is overanalyzed, here are four damning statistics behind Oranje’s meek exit from this summer’s biggest party.
1. Red mist
The coaching of Netherlands manager Frank de Boer has come under intense criticism since day one and it will now be under the spotlight once more. But even the much-maligned national team boss couldn’t have foreseen the red mist descending on Matthijs de Ligt, his leader at the back. The 21-year-old’s moment of madness came seconds after Donyell Malen — who kept his spot following an impressive performance against North Macedonia — incredibly failed to put Oranje in front after being played in behind, with just Czech goalkeeper Tomáš Vaclík to beat.
🔴 Johan Neeskens (1976)
🔴 Wim van Hanegem (1976)
🔴 John Heitinga (2004)
🔴 Matthijs de Ligt (2020)
There's just something about this fixture. 🎆 pic.twitter.com/6tJGiOEoy4
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 27, 2021
In a blink of an eye, De Ligt, under pressure from Patrik Schick, lost his footing and instinctively clawed the ball on the edge of the penalty area. Following a VAR review, he was given an early bath. He consequently became the fourth Dutchman to see red in a European Championship game. No country has received more sending-offs in Euros history than the Netherlands, with two of those coming against Czechoslovakia (both in 1976), while the other two came against the Czech Republic, at Euro 2004 and 2020.
2. End of the road
This defeat also ended a nice little run the Netherlands were enjoying at a major tournament. It’s well-documented that Oranje were in the international wilderness following the 2014 World Cup finals, meaning you have to go all the way back to Euro 2012 for their last taste of defeat (1-2 v Portugal), which happened to be the final group stage game, though it’s worth acknowledging Bert van Marwijk’s side lost all of their first round matches in Ukraine. Today’s loss to the Czech Republic snapped a 10-game unbeaten streak between the World Cup and European Championships proper.
You can’t fault any Dutch supporter for being nervous after their group stage performance this summer. Oranje ended Group C on top with a 100% record, a reverse of Euro 2012. Playing exclusively in Amsterdam, they’d bag eight goals while conceding just twice. By failing at the first knockout stage they became the first side to win 100% of their group stage games (3/3) before losing in 90 minutes in the first knockout round at a European Championships tournament.
#NED have not won any of their five knockout games at the European Championships (excl. pen shoot-outs).
Their last win came against FR Yugoslavia in 2000, a state that no longer exists. pic.twitter.com/eg2KTVSfZd
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) June 27, 2021
4. Failing to buy the lottery ticket
As touched upon, the Netherlands were free spirits going forward in the group phase. De Boer’s team averaged six shots on target per game, which put them only behind Denmark (7) and Spain (6.3). How they could have used at least one of those today, as for the first time since 1980 the Netherlands failed to record a single shot on target in a tournament match. A damning indictment, especially as before De Ligt’s sending-off, they monopolised possession but failed to besiege the Czech goal.
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