It wasn’t so way back that the European Championships had been type of excellent, in that all of it made sense. Solely 16 groups made it, which is nearly the identical quantity of European groups that make the World Cup, so hardly ever had been there true no-hopers within the draw. 4 teams of 4 meant groups couldn’t duck one another, and seeing as how solely the highest two in every group superior, each sport meant one thing.
The growth to 24 groups in 2016 definitely dulled the group stage, although it has given the spherical of 16 some unpredictability. Nonetheless, with the cushion that 4 of the six third-place groups will advance, and the diluting of the teams themselves, it’s onerous to understand how onerous groups are actually going within the first three video games and the way a lot these imply. Assume how completely different the group of dying between France, Germany, and Portugal would have seemed if one in all them was going dwelling after the group stage it doesn’t matter what (which Germany and Portugal flirted with briefly anyway, however obtained out of with attracts the place one would have wanted a win within the outdated format).
The Netherlands had been one of many darlings of the group stage, just about leathering Ukraine, Austria, and North Macedonia at dwelling — apart from a 10-minute spell in opposition to Ukraine that noticed them hand over two targets. After lacking the final two main tournaments, should you didn’t give it some thought too onerous, it felt just like the Dutch weren’t solely again in event soccer, however on the head of the desk once more.
Being managed by Frank De Boer is rarely an excellent begin, and Atlanta United followers at the moment have to be feeling fairly rattling smug. However worldwide soccer might be very bizarre, given the well being and fatigue of the gamers and completely different units of opponents that may have little in widespread.
Within the group stage, not one of the Dutch’s opponents ever actually examined them, and positively none of them obtained proper up into the Dutch’s face just like the Czech Republic did at the moment. These clad in orange will level to Matthijs De Ligt’s pink card because the turning level, however the Dutch didn’t have a shot on course earlier than that and had been nullified. If the sport was turned, it was from even or barely within the Czechs favor to solely extra so.
How? As we said in the previews of the tourney, the Czechs are one of many few worldwide groups that need to press excessive. According to WhoScored.com, the Dutch misplaced possession in their very own half 11 occasions of their loss at the moment. That occurred simply 4 occasions in opposition to North Macedonia. It was 5 in opposition to Austria. It was 5 in opposition to Ukraine as effectively. The Czechs tried 9 tackles across the Dutch field, proof of their starvation to win the ball again shortly. Holland’s group opponents managed to mix for simply seven over three video games. .
As you may see from this graph below “Chalkboard” and “Tackles Tried”, the Czechs had been intent on shutting down Holland’s left aspect of Danny Blind and Patrick van Aanholt.
Kill the physique, the pinnacle will die. Reducing off the Dutch on the again meant the midfield was starved, which meant the forwards didn’t have a lot to work with. Gini Wijnaldum, just about the attacking fulcrum for the Dutch on the head of midfield, had 26 touches all sport. He solely tried 16 passes. He didn’t have a shot. Memphis Depay had one shot. Depay had simply three touches within the space. Examine that with the ten he had within the space in opposition to North Macedonia.
De Boer will level to van Aanholt’s miss proper earlier than De Ligt’s dismissal, which he may also level to, as issues out of his management that despatched the Dutch dwelling. However he gained’t and shouldn’t get off that clear. Not solely did De Boer have this crew fully flummoxed by an opponent that bothered to press them and didn’t roll out a pink carpet for them to come back out of protection, however De Boer froze after the cardboard. He moved van Aanholt to heart again, which he’s hardly ever performed. His first sub after taking place to 10 males was an attacking winger in Quincy Promes. He didn’t deliver on one other defender till they had been already down to 2 targets. The defending on the set piece that led to the Czech’s opener can be greatest described as “day care heart when the ice cream truck rolls by.” There was no destroyer in midfield to maintain the Czechs from rolling by way of, which led to their second.
The Dutch seemed nice within the group stage. That and $3 will get you on the subway.