Netherlands Eyeing Top Spot in Euro 2024 Group: A Clash with Austria Looms

The Netherlands will play a confident Austrian team on Tuesday, who might need a win to advance to the round of 16.

The Netherlands are looking to steal first place in Group D at Euro 2024 ahead of France. The Dutch coach, Ronald Koeman, claimed his team “weren’t up to scratch” after their most recent goalless draw with France, which virtually guaranteed them a spot in the knockout stage. But if France wins its concurrent last match against Poland, they would still finish first in the group even if they defeat Austria.

Netherlands Eyeing Top Spot in Euro 2024 Group: A Clash with Austria Looms
Team Netherlands in action. Photo Credit: AFP

“When we reflect on the entire game, there were moments when we weren’t up to par,” Koeman stated on Sunday.
“We pressed poorly and lost possession when we shouldn’t have; there was too much room between the lines.
“France had better chances than we did.”

Despite leading their groups in the last two major competitions, the Netherlands was eliminated in the round of 16 of Euro 2020 by the Czech Republic. This campaign has started off well, although there has been discussion over the team’s composition back home.

Memphis Depay, who thinly-veiledly responded to critics with a song titled “Thanks for your opinion” prior to the tournament, struggled up front against France.

After coming off the bench to score the game-winning goal in the Netherlands’ opening encounter against Poland, there have been demands for Wout Weghorst to be handed the starting position.

“There wasn’t much help when a ball came to me. After then, you have to grip the ball, but sadly, that didn’t work very well. After the draw with France, Depay conceded, “That needs to be addressed.

Instead of starting with Virgil van Dijk in center defense alongside Stefan de Vrij of Inter Milan, Matthijs de Ligt, who made an impression in the second half of the previous season for Bayern Munich, has been benched.

To assist him deal with not being in the starting lineup, De Ligt has been speaking with a psychologist.
He told Dutch reporters, “These kinds of moments can be tough.” “By talking about them you make it lighter and you can put the energy back on the field instead of wasting it on those kinds of thoughts.”

If France loses to Poland, Austria might still finish first with a win, but they’ll probably advance with a point as one of the top third-placed teams. Known as one of the tournament’s dark horses, Ralf Rangnick’s team impressed last time out, defeating Poland 3-1.

They had pushed France hard in their first 1-0 loss, but if they could secure a top-two finish against the Dutch, they would probably be able to avoid facing the best teams in the round of sixteen.
“We need at least one more point if our calculations show that we are still not done. With four points, you can pretty well guarantee your spot in the knockout phase,” Rangnick remarked. “Maybe we can win the group.”

Also Read: Hungary Knocks Scotland Out of Euro 2024 with A Dramatic 1-0 Victory

For the first time since 1954, three years prior, Austria advanced to the major tournament knockout stage. In the last 16, they gave eventual Euro winners Italy a scare before falling in extra time.

They have never advanced to the European Championship quarterfinals.
“It feels good to be referred to as that (dark horses),” stated Christoph Baumgartner, the player who scored the game-winning goal that gave Austria a 2-1 lead over Poland.

“We had a great run in the last few weeks and months, we won the build-up against Germany, and then people start thinking big pretty quickly.”

However, as a team, we were always able to evaluate the circumstances. We knew we weren’t playing at our best when we played France. We believe we can defeat many countries if we perform to the best of our abilities.”

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