Czech Republic Expose Netherlands to Claim Quarter-Finals Spot

The seemingly flamboyant Netherlands are out of Euro 2020 at the expense of an apparently technically limited Czech Republic side. In football, however, as in most other walks of life, the truth can only be found below the surface.

Were the Netherlands a doomed side from the moment that Matthijs de Ligt earned himself a red card tonight? Or, were they already on the path to early elimination when Ukraine made light work of their defensive scrambles? Was it the game where they could not break down a resilient, but static Austrian midfield? It was all these things, and the defeat reflects Frank de Boer’s often disorganized managerial decisions.

The Netherlands began the match resembling a team that understood they would score first and that their goal would come sooner rather than later. They were wrong, and their confidence shadowed the looming danger.

Much like Italy’s game yesterday, the first half seemed to suggest that the differences between the majority of sides that have reached the Round of 16 may not be as great as initially thought.

The Dutch dominated the first half. Occasionally, they were able to make use of their superior skill. However, the Czechs never lost their head. They defended and broke on the counter well on a few occasions.

Much has been made of De Boer’s chosen tactics. This time he opted for a rather conservative 3-4-1-2 that could switch to a 5-3-2 when in defense. Donyell Mallen replaced Wout Weghorst as the team’s most advanced player.

Meanwhile, Jaroslav Silhavy changed little from his 4-2-3-1 approach. The team likes to crowd the central area, encourage and encourage breaks that favor the strength and speed of forward Patrik Schick.

Denzel Dumfries had the first big opportunity of the game in the 13th minute. Soucek replied in the 22nd minute when he found took advantage of De Ligt’s sluggish pressing.

In fact, the unseen duel was that between De Ligt and the Czech attacking players. The Juventus defenders’ challenges were a mixed bag, albeit he rarely received the support he needed.

The Czech Republic made for an aggressive, resilient side, but not a negative one like, for example, Austria. Their counter-attacks almost always looked threatening.

The Czechs though forced into occasional mistakes. This may not be a vintage Dutch side, but speed and technique are elements that seem to travel across generations.

In the final minutes of the first half, the Netherlands continued to charge down the flanks, but Denzel Dumfries and Memphis Depay were unable to break the deadlock.

In the 51st minute, Holland had their last chance to tilt the game in their favor. Donyell Mahlen found himself with only the keeper the beat, but his attempt to go around him failed.

Patrik Schick’s consistent hassling of De Ligt paid off just one minute later. The defender scrambled to keep up the pace with the forward, but could only do so by handling the ball. De Ligt was red-carded and the Netherlands never recovered.

Holland tried to attack, but the Czechs now found themselves with plenty of space to exploit. In the 68th minute, the inevitable happened and Tomas Holes scored to cap off a great series of incisive passes.

With the Dutch’s vulnerabilities more obvious than ever, Patrik Schick found himself on the end of a good counterattack move. This was his fourth goal of the tournament.

In the dying minutes, Czech Republic could have scored more. However, the Dutch were saved from further embarrassment.

The Czech Republic’s success takes them to the Quarter-Finals. Here they will meet Denmark, another team that in 2021 is reminding fans of their glory days in this tournament. This looks like an even game on paper.

Netherlands, on the other hand, are eliminated. In spite of their three victories in the group stage, this should come as no surprise. The Dutch possess some excellent individual players. They always have. This, however, has been an often chaotic and uneven team. The Czechs merely presented De Boer’s team with the inevitable.



June 27, 2021 – European Championship 2020 Round of 16

SCORERS: 68′ Holes, 80′ Schick

NETHERLANDS (3-5-2): Stekelenburg; de Vrij, de Ligt, Blind (81′ Timber); Dumfries, De Roon (73′ Weghorst), Wijnaldum, de Jong, Van Aanholt (81′ Berghuis); Depay, Malen (56′ Promes) (Bizot, Krul, Veltman, Wijndal, Aké, Klaassen, Gravenberch, Gakpo) Coach: De Boer
CZECH REPUBLIC (4-2-3-1): Vaclik; Coufal, Celustka, Kalas, Kaderabek; Holes (85′ Kral), Soucek; Masopust (79′ Jankto), Barak (92’ Sadilek), Sevcik (85′ Hlozek); Schick (92’ Krmencik) (Mandous, Koubek, Mateju, Brabec, Pesek, Pekhart, Vydra) Coach: Silhavy

REFEREE: Karasev (Russia)
NOTES: Yellow Cards: Dumfries, De Jong (N), Coufal (C); Red Card: De Ligt (N)