Oranje in search of certainty

In Rotherham, near Sheffield, metallurgy has long been the lifeblood of the city, and the New York Stadium was built on the site of a former foundry. Saturday July 23, Corinne Deacon’s Bleues will need a strong mind in the Euro quarter-finals. The task does not look easy against the Dutch, holders of the continental title and finalists of the 2019 World Cup. Although the Oranje have not mastered their subject much since the start of the tournament in England, with an inaugural draw against Sweden (1-1), followed by a difficult success against Portugal (3-2) and a qualification which was seized in the last minutes of the match against Switzerland (4-1), caution is necessary.

“They are used to big events and have the experience of winning a title”, said Olivier Echouafni, who is the French coach at Euro 2017. Ten of the twenty-three European champions are still available for this Euro. And if the workforce is changed, the current players are less at risk. Among them is Vivianne Miedema, the top scorer in the history of the selection at the age of only 26 (94 goals), back for this quarter-finals after testing positive for Covid on July 12.

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A powerful midfielder

The “Orange Lionesses” can also rely on a strong midfielder, with Sherida Spitse, 32 years old and more than 200 caps, as a metronome. “The environment is the main strength of the team. They have been playing for a long time, which gives a certain stability, also with Jackie Groenen, who has recovered many balls., said Dutch defender Anouk Dekker, European champion in 2017 but not selected this year.

These midfield qualities can be noticed from the younger categories. “These are competitive games, well organized teams, always have a good midfielder, a good leader and a good striker”, said coach Gilles Eyquem, who regularly faces the Netherlands with the France Under-19 team.

For Anouk Dekker, another strong point of the Dutch is at the set piece level: “ With Sherida Spitse in charge who can put the ball on the free player, this sector creates chances and allows them to regularly score goals. » The Dutch scored four of their eight goals at the Euros from free kicks or corners. “This is a sector of the game that will be closely monitored for France, sometimes in terms of scoring”, Olivier Echouafni pointed out.

Although 12 of the 23 players selected for the Euro played in the Dutch championship and lacked international experience, two young players paved the way for the quarter-finals. Coming into the game in the second half, when the score was tied (1-1) in the last group game against Switzerland, Victoria Pelova (23) and Romée Leuchter (21) pulled their teammates from bad step. Both Ajax Amsterdam players returned to the game in the last ten minutes, scoring three goals.

Expected success in the war of principles

Dutch goalkeeper Sari Van Veenendaal leaves the lawn at Bramall Lane in Sheffield, after his shoulder injury during the Netherlands - Sweden (1-1), July 9, 2022.

However, blows of fortune seem to have plagued the Netherlands since the start of the competition and coach Mark Parsons has had to deal with the loss of several key players. Goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal suffered a shoulder injury in the first match, followed by winger Lieke Martens, a new recruit from Paris-Saint-Germain and crowned the best player at Euro 2017, who missed out with a foot injury against Switzerland.

If Vivianne Miedema is eligible for the quarter-finals, it is difficult to know if she has full possession of her faculties after being laid up by Covid, with relatively strong symptoms. During the training session on Wednesday, the noh 9 and the captain was forced, for want of strength, to eat between the two exercises.

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“If it doesn’t play, the team will lose someone who can score and take offensive initiatives”, says Anouk Dekker, while stressing that it’s possible there isn’t “gives a good opportunity to a player who is not well known to the opponent and creates a surprise effect”.

If the Dutch workforce advances towards the quarter-finals with some benchmarks on the ground, it will nevertheless find some of the stands thanks to its supporters. When it comes to the crowd during the first round – almost 2,500 tickets sold for each meeting – the Oranje will certainly win the battle for the stands, even if they are few in Rotherham: only 600 are expected.

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