Netherlands – Czech Republic – 0: 2, June 27, 2021: why the Netherlands were eliminated from the Euro, analysis of the 1/8 final match


Many of us were in awe of the Dutch team in the group stage – team Franca de Boer confidently took first place, showed supposedly stylish football with an abundance of aggressive pressing and fast attacks, famously used the width and, among other things, the inclusion of the fantastic Doomfries on the right. The Dutch were in the lead both in the number of goals and in the severity of the created chances in the xG table among all the participants of the Euro.

“The Russian referee did a good job, but we played badly.” The Dutch said goodbye to the Euro

Yes, we all understood that the group that the Netherlands got into was hardly indicative in terms of determining the true strength of the team. Moreover, in some games (for example, against Ukraine), questions arose about the balance and clarity of the defensive system. But still it seemed that the first stage of the playoffs, the team of de Boer will pass.

At least the first stage.

How did the “title contenders” want to build their attacks at all?

The Czech Republic is undoubtedly a very strong team, but it was relatively easy to prepare for it. We clearly saw her strengths in the first three matches: the team relies on pressure and does not allow opponents to play, boldly rises, and effectively blocks the center. But at the same time, from the point of view of building its own positional attack, the team sags a lot, the chances are hard for it – and the best method of generating sharpness is precisely pressure on the opponent with the ball either at the penalty area or in the middle block.

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The Dutch were knocked out by the Russians again? Karasev is the protagonist of the Euro play-off match
Have the Dutch been knocked out by the Russians again? Karasev is the protagonist of the Euro play-off match

What was required of the Netherlands? Prepare, adjust at least some of the nuances for pressure and surprise your opponent. I’m not talking about rejecting the attacking style (we understand how much the Dutch are in love with themselves), but I mean an exceptionally clear algorithm for going from defense to attack, saturation of the necessary zones, unexpected non-linear openings during the rally, flexibility, and so on. What did we see in the end? But nothing. The Netherlands came out to play as it turned out – and seemed to be surprised at how well-coordinated and aggressively they defend against them.

Below is the gear map Stekelenburg in yesterday’s match. Among them – 29 (!) Long and only 9 short. Any reaction of the goalkeeper (and his partners played on him very often) were carried away somewhere in the direction of the right flank, where Doomfries must jump over everyone, catch on and throw them off. The big one came out in the second half Weghorst – and the game has become even more simplified.

In almost any situation where the Netherlands came under pressure, they used long passes.

The share of long programs increased every minute, totaling 16%. The PPDA index of the Czech team is 7.8, which is a very decent figure. The indicators only emphasize: the pressure worked.

What could a smart team with a flexible coach do? I guess try to change the structure, try to cool someone else’s pressure, or find a more effective way to break it. After all, if you break high pressure, you immediately speed up your attacks and get good opportunities. And then you simply make your opponent go down. So, for example, Belgium did in the second half against Denmark, when they released De Bruyne and slightly adjusted the scheme. Or so England did against the same Czech Republic, when they created the majority at the beginning of the attack and easily moved the ball forward.

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And the Netherlands ran right up to the deletion in the original combinations, using long passes. The only one who at least somehow tried to cut other people’s lines with low transmissions was Blind… The rest of the defenders hid from the ball, there were constant passes back to Stekelenburg, and the hard worker Dumfries collected as many as 11 horse martial arts, which became one of the record indicators in his career. Only the effectiveness of the fight was low – only 27%.

Photo: Dmitry Golubovich, “Championship”

Czech Republic is handsome. They need to be praised too

In total, the Netherlands struck only 6 shots (none on target), hitting 0.57 xG. Only 12 of their possessions reached someone else’s penalty area (6% of the total). Two defenders, de Jong and de Rhône, scored for two five accurate passes with the advance of the ball and one accurate pass into the penalty area. And even before the removal, there was absolutely no feeling that de Boer’s team was in control of the match and that it would certainly hold out (if only because it did not “sting”). Yes, Malena spontaneously emerged one-on-one, but there was no systematic way of creating moments.

In such cases, it is imperative to praise the opponent – and let’s do it. The Czechs showed excellent physical fitness, courage and aggression, they fought great. Lower defensive midfielder Golesh, who is now praised by the whole world, disciplined Wijnaldum, sat in line with the central defenders. The width was almost always controlled – the only Dutch signature attack using a U-turn on Doomfries took place in the 1st minute, followed by silence.

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And then the Czechs, having gained a numerical advantage, without any fear increased the level of aggression in the attack – and immediately switched on. Immediately they began to use the width with the simultaneous inclusion of two full-backs, scored from a standard and did not let the match get out of control.

But still I am convinced that it was primarily a bad game from the Netherlands. A game without any adaptation to the opponent’s style, with a slow reaction of the coach to what is happening and, as a result, a failed minority football. As soon as the national team, which seems to be claiming the style and status of “top”, got into uncomfortable conditions, it immediately turned into a chaotic and primitive team.

Therefore, it is not at all sorry for her.

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