The Netherlands kickstarted the latest chapter of their UEFA Nations League journey with a narrow yet hard-fought win over Poland last night. The tense affair went back and forth, but the Dutch always did seem to have control of the tempo – and they made that count when Steven Bergwijn scored the one and only winning goal in the 61st minute.
Today, we’re going to take a look at a few of the things we’ve come to learn in the immediate aftermath of the full time whistle blowing.
Nations League shine
After finishing as runners-up in the last edition of the UEFA Nations League, the Dutch were clearly starting to realise that this was a competition format they could thrive in. Off the back of this performance they’re obviously going after the actual trophy this time around, and with so much time between international tournaments these days, that makes a lot of sense for them.
The absence of someone as crucial and talented as Robert Lewandowski was always going to pose some problems to the Poles, and you could tell that they were really missing their talisman. While they do have attacking stars littered throughout the rest of their team, they still need to do more to try and develop new talent that can work alongside the veteran.
International break worry
The game was okay to watch but make no mistake about it, this was not a classic by any stretch of the imagination. It was a game in which both nations were just kind of going through the motions, knowing that the priority for most of the players will be the return of domestic football across Europe. With so little time to go until those leagues get underway, you have to question the logic of this international break.
Dwight Lodeweges isn’t going to be the long-term managerial option that the Netherlands decides to run with, and that’s fine, but what this game did prove is that they can do just fine without Ronald Koeman in charge. He may have been able to inject new life into the squad, but they’ve got the talent necessary to thrive on their own – as long as the next appointment isn’t a total disaster.
Dutch dark horses?
As of this writing, Betfair has priced Netherlands at 15/2 to win UEFA Euro 2021 – and they’re only behind a handful of teams in the odds. We’re not so sure they have the depth needed to go all the way, but after failing to qualify for the last two tournaments, all they’ll really care about is flying under the radar and restoring some national pride.
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