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Netherlands and Austria Battle for Top Spot in Euro 2024 Group D Showdown

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The Netherlands are targeting the top spot in Group D at Euro 2024, looking to edge out France. However, on Tuesday, they face a determined Austria side that needs a positive result to secure their place in the last 16. Dutch coach Ronald Koeman acknowledged that his team fell short in their goalless draw against France, but a victory over Austria could secure the top position, provided France doesn’t win by a larger margin against Poland.

Dutch Performance Analysis

Ronald Koeman admitted that his team had areas to improve from their last match. “If we think about the whole game, there were times we weren’t up to scratch,” Koeman said. “We lost possession when we shouldn’t have, and our pressing wasn’t great either. There was too much space between the lines. France had better chances than we did.”

Despite finishing first in their groups at the last two major tournaments, the Netherlands were still eliminated by the Czech Republic in the last 16 at Euro 2020. This time, they aim to maintain their momentum and avoid past mistakes.

Debates Over Team Selection

Back home, debates have arisen about the team’s composition. Memphis Depay, who faced criticism before the tournament, struggled upfront against France. Calls for Wout Weghorst to start have intensified, especially after he scored the winner in their opening game against Poland. Depay acknowledged his shortcomings, stating, “When a ball came to me, there was little support. Then you have to hold the ball, and unfortunately, that didn’t work a number of times. That has to be improved.”

In defense, Matthijs de Ligt, who had a strong finish to the season with Bayern Munich, has been left on the bench. Inter Milan’s Stefan de Vrij has been partnering with Virgil van Dijk in central defense. De Ligt has been consulting a psychologist to cope with not starting, explaining, “These kinds of moments can be tough. By talking about them, you make it lighter and can put the energy back on the field instead of wasting it on those kinds of thoughts.”

Austria’s Ambitions

Austria, needing at least a point to likely progress as one of the best third-placed teams, could also finish first with a win if France fails to beat Poland. Austria, coached by Ralf Rangnick, impressed with a 3-1 victory over Poland, following a close 1-0 defeat to France. Securing three points against the Dutch would likely help them avoid stronger teams in the last 16.

Rangnick stated, “If we calculate, we’re still not through. We at least need one more point. You can say with four points, it’s quite secure you go into the knockout round. Maybe we can win the group.”

Austria’s Rising Confidence

Austria made it to the knockout stage of a major tournament for the first time since 1954, three years ago, when they gave eventual champions Italy a tough fight before losing in extra time. They have never reached the quarter-finals at a European Championship.

Christoph Baumgartner, who scored the crucial goal against Poland, expressed confidence, saying, “Somehow it is nice to be called that (dark horses). We won against Germany in the build-up, we had a really good period in the last few weeks and months, and then people start to think big quite quickly. But we as a team always knew how to assess the situation. We knew against France we weren’t at our maximum. We know if we reach our best level, we can beat a lot of nations.”

Key Players and Line-Ups

For the Netherlands, Koeman might consider changes to his starting lineup to address the issues seen against France. The debate over whether to start Weghorst or Depay continues, while de Ligt’s situation adds complexity to defensive choices. Austria, on the other hand, will likely stick with the team that performed well against Poland, with Rangnick emphasizing the importance of consistency and confidence.

The Match Preview

The upcoming clash between the Netherlands and Austria promises to be intense. Both teams have much at stake, and their performances will be crucial in determining their paths in Euro 2024. The Netherlands aim to secure the top spot and avoid stronger opponents in the knockout stages, while Austria seeks to continue their impressive run and solidify their status as dark horses of the tournament.

The Netherlands and Austria are set for a pivotal match in Euro 2024. The Dutch aim to top Group D, while Austria needs a positive result to progress. As both teams prepare for this crucial game, fans can expect a thrilling encounter that will shape the next stage of the tournament. The outcomes will not only determine group standings but also set the tone for the knockout rounds, promising excitement and high stakes in Euro 2024.