Frank de Boer’s last few managerial stops have been anything but successful, and the start to his time with the Netherlands was tumultuous at best.
So far at EURO 2020, the Dutch boss’ tenure feels… different.
Memphis Depay converted a penalty won by Denzel Dumfries and awarded by VAR to open the scoring, and Dumfries later scored one himself as the Netherlands stayed perfect at EURO with a 2-0 defeat of Austria in Amsterdam.
Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong starred and joined Georginio Wijnaldum in creating a steady spine and limiting the Austrians to just one shot on target.
3 things we learned from Netherlands – Austria
1. Dutch defense settles down: When the match hit halftime, Dutch supporters would’ve been forgiven for wondering what fresh anxiety awaited them coming out of the break. After all, De Boer’s men took a 0-0 halftime deadlock with Ukraine and turned it into a five-goal second half to claim three points in their EURO 2020 opener.
This was steadier, and probably what fans wanted to see given the distinct lack of an injured and unnamed star whose name rhymes with Dirgil van Vijk. There was a late error that nearly put Austria back in the hunt for a result, but overall this was all about the hosts.
2. Who is this Austria? Tournament play has been a weird one for the Austrians, who have disappointed at both of their previous EUROs and failed to qualify for the last five World Cups despite the primes of David Alaba, Aleksandar Dragobic, Marko Arnautovic, and Julian Baumgartlinger. Ukraine is next and may tell us more than a loss to a better side (Netherlands) or win over a clearly inferior one (North Macedonia).
3. Dutch strike a dangerous pose: De Boer’s attack was opportunistic. Part of this was surely their playing with the lead, but the Netherlands created a number of big chances en route to Dumfries goal, which came off a selfless and smart layoff from Donyell Malen.
The winner of Group C won’t face a fellow group winner until the semifinals (though it will get the third-place finisher of France, Germany, Portugal, and Hungary). On top of that, they wouldn’t face Italy or Belgium until the final barring something real wild on the final day of group play.
Man of the Match: Denzel Dumfries
The 25-year-old PSV Eindhoven wide man has been linked with plenty of moves away from his club, and that’s only going to grow given his penalty drawn and goal scored Thursday following the match-winner against Ukraine in the opener.