The Netherlands are looking to win their opening four games of a European Championship for just the second time when they take on the Czech Republic in the last 16 of Euro 2020 on Sunday.
Head coach Frank de Boer played every minute when they last achieved that feat in 2000, the Oranje ultimately losing on penalties to Italy in the semi-finals.
The Netherlands, who will be without Luuk de Jong after he was ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury, do not have a successful record in the knockout stages of this competition, progressing from just two of their seven standalone games since they won the tournament in 1988. They beat Yugoslavia 6-1 in the 2000 quarter-final and overcame Sweden on penalties at the same stage in 2004.
Standing in their way of a quarter-final clash against either Wales or Denmark is a Czech Republic side who have a miserable record of their own when it comes to European Championship knockout games.
Jaroslav Silhavy’s side have been eliminated in three of their last four games in the knockout stages of the tournament – versus Germany in the final in 1996, Greece in the semi-final in 2004, and most recently, Portugal in the quarter-final of Euro 2012.
They will be without left-back Jan Boril after he picked up a second yellow card of the tournament in the final group game against England, with Ales Mateju in line to deputise.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Netherlands – Georginio Wijnaldum
Wijnaldum made a reasonably slow start in finding the back of the net at international level, scoring 10 goals in his first 53 appearances for the Oranje. He has accelerated in recent years, though, with no player scoring more for the Netherlands than his 15 in 25 games since the start of 2019.
The new Paris Saint-Germain midfielder scored three goals in the group stage, including a brace in the 3-0 win over North Macedonia. The Czech Republic have been warned.
Czech Republic – Patrik Schick
Schick lit up Euro 2020 with his stunning long-range strike against Scotland in his side’s opening game in Group D.
The Bayer Leverkusen forward was responsible for six of his side’s nine shots on target in the group stage – the highest percentage of any player for his team in the tournament (67 per cent).
KEY OPTA FACTS
– This will be the first meeting between the Netherlands and the Czech Republic since October 2015, when the Dutch were beaten 3-2 in a Euro 2016 qualifier. Indeed, they have lost each of their last two games against the Czech Republic – both coming in qualifying for the previous European Championship in 2016.
– The Czech Republic and the Netherlands will face each other at the European Championship for the third time (excl. Czechoslovakia meetings), with both sides winning one game apiece previously. Their last meeting in the competition was a thriller at Euro 2004, in which the Czechs came from two goals down to win 3-2, following an 88th minute winner from Vladimir Smicer.
– The Netherlands completed more high turnovers (open play sequences that start within 40 metres of the opponent’s goal line) than any other side in the Euro 2020 group stages (44), while only Spain (60) forced more pressed sequences (sequences where the opposition has three or fewer passes and the sequence ends within 40m of their own goal) than the Dutch (58).
– Memphis Depay has been directly involved in 13 goals in his last 10 appearances for Netherlands in all competitions (nine goals, four assists), while only Robert Lewandowski (12) attempted more shots than Depay (11) in the group stage at Euro 2020.
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