Portugal coach Fernando Santos thinks it is “strange” seeing Netherlands go through a period of such transition after World Cup qualification failure.
Netherlands will sit out a second-successive major international tournament this year after failing to claim a place in the top-two of qualifying Group A – finishing behind second-placed Sweden on goal difference.
Although they beat the Swedes 2-0 in their final qualifier, it was too little, too late, as Dick Advocaat failed to turn things around after a tumultuous start to the campaign under Danny Blind.
Ronald Koeman was installed as their new full-time coach in early February as they embark on a new era, beginning with a 1-0 defeat at home to England on Friday.
And Santos, whose Portugal play Netherlands on Monday, says it is odd seeing the formerly revered Dutch in such a situation.
“It’s normal to see the Netherlands always on the top of the standings, in the final stages of the big competitions, and it’s strange to see the Netherlands out,” he told reporters on Sunday.
Fernando Santos: “Portugal teve grandes embates com a Holanda, são equipas de topo mundial. Neste momento, a Holanda está em fase de transformação. Não sabemos o que esperar, mas é uma equipa de altíssimo nível.” #ConquistaOSonho pic.twitter.com/mUQw1pmzrB
— Portugal (@selecaoportugal) March 25, 2018
“But obviously it’s not the same team. There is no [Arjen] Robben, there is no [Wesley] Sneijder – there aren’t a lot of players that we have seen in recent years with Netherlands.
“At the moment, Ronald Koeman has his opinions, he certainly wants to prepare the team for the future, since they are not in the World Cup.
“He wants to prepare for the future, so it’s normal that the team isn’t the same as it was in the past.
“We watched the game of the Netherlands against England. We know they have a new coach, he has his own ideas, so we gave special attention to this game.
“The Dutch team presented a variation to what they normally did, they played in a 3-4-3 initially, and then over the course of the game they made small changes, keeping the three central, with the exception of the last minutes that they played in a 4-3-3, which is normally closer to the Dutch team.
“But I’m not in the head of my colleague, so I don’t know if he will continue with this form of play, if he will seek another alternative. I don’t know, but we will prepare ourselves for what is possible.”
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