Thursday, July 25, 2024

Netherlands 2-1 Turkey: Talking points as Dutch overturn deficit to complete Euro semifinals list

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The Netherlands came back from a goal down to beat Turkey 2-1 in the Euro quarterfinals and make the final spot in the semifinals, setting up a clash with England, while the other place in the final will be decided between Spain and France.

Turkey took the lead in the 35th minute through Samet Akaydin, but Stefan de Vrij equalized in the 70th, before an own-goal from Mert Muldur set the final scoreline six minutes later.

The teams

Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman set his team up in his usual 4-2-3-1 system. With Bart Verbruggen in goal, Stefan de Vrij paired up with captain Virgil van Dijk in the heart of defence, flanked by Denzel Dumfries on the right and Nathan Ake on the left. Jerdy Schouten joined Tijjani Reijnders in the middle of the park, with Xavi Simons in a more advanced, No.10 role. Cody Gakpo and Steven Bergwijn attacked from the flanks, and the man tasked with leading the line up front was Memphis Depay.

Meanwhile, Turkey coach Vincenzo Montella went with a more flexible setup, which transformed between 3-4-3 and 5-4-1 depending on whether they were in possession of the ball or not. Mert Gunok was in goal, and when defending, wide players Ferdi Kadioglu and Mert Muldur dropped back alongside the trio of Abdulkerim Bardakci, Akaydin and Kaan Ayhan to form the back-five line. In the same manner, Kenan Yildiz and Arda Guler moved between the attacking and midfield lines, flanking either the pair of captain Hakan Calhanoglu and Salih Ozcan in the middle of the park, or striker Baris Alper Yilmaz in attack.

The game

Netherlands threatened early through Depay, but from that point on, Turkey looked like the better side in the contest. There weren’t many real chances at either end in the period that followed, and both teams had a couple of hopeful long-range efforts without the desired outcome.

But in the 35th minute, after Netherlands had cleared their box from a corner, Guler whipped in a fine cross towards the far post where his teammates outnumbered Dumfriez and Akaydin rose highest to head into the back of the net, giving Turkey an arguably deserved lead.

Netherlands obviously needed to put in more effort and they did so, gradually turning the tide on the pitch. Their first opportunity for an equalizer came five minutes into the second half when Ake crossed from deep and Wout Weghorst, who replaced Bergwijn at half time, headed back across the six yards but Depay didn’t get there in time to poke home.

Another five minutes later, Turkey got a sudden chance to double their lead as Yilmaz beat Van Dijk in the air to set Guler up, and Ake was forced to get booked for a foul on the Real Madrid youngster. Guler himself took the free-kick from over 25 yards, grazing the outside of the post.

Netherlands continued with their initiative, though Turkey looked dangerous through several more counterattacks and set-pieces. Weghorst missed a great chance in the 70th minute, but from the resulting corner, Netherlands were level as Depay’s cross found De Vrij completely unmarked in the air, and the Inter Milan defender headed perfectly to beat Gunok.

It took the Oranje just six more minutes to turn the game completely around. Dumfries sent a low cross across the six yards towards Gakpo, and tackled by Muldur, it seemed at first the Liverpool forward managed to squeeze it in from close range, but it was eventually given as an own-goal by the unlucky Turkish defender.

It was now Turkey’s turn to look for an equalizer and they had plenty of chances late on, but substitutes Cenk Tosun, Zeki Celik and Kerem Akturkoglu wasted one after another. The best, however, fell suddenly to Semih Kilcsoy two minutes into the stoppage time, but Verbruggen showed excellent reflexes to deny his poke from inside the six yards.

The Netherlands raised their level of defending significantly between that moment and the final whistle, and the frustration of Montella, his staff and players reached its peak in a final seconds as Bertug Yildrim, an unused substitute, earned a red card.

Into the final four

The Euros thus end for Turkey, but Montella’s team did show that they have what it takes to face any side. With that in mind, they will be disappointed to go out at this stage, but once the feelings of frustration fade away, they’ll realize that they have plenty to be proud for and be eager to move on into the World Cup qualifications.

As for Netherlands, the job gets trickier from here. Like Koeman’s team, England, their next opponents, haven’t exactly shined in this tournament, but merely did what it took to get through. The luck of one of those sides will obviously run out when they meet on Wednesday evening at Borussia Dortmund’s Signal Iduna Park.


Veselin Trajkovic

Vesko is a football writer that likes to observe the game for what it is, focusing on teams, players and their roles, formations, tactics, rather than stats. He follows the English Premier League closely, Liverpool FC in particular. His articles have been published on seven different football blogs.



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