The Netherlands have a perfect record after their three group matches at Euro 2021. But how good are the Oranje? Good enough to win it all? The knockouts will be revealing.
The Dutch defeated North Macedonia, Austria and Ukraine on the road to the Euro Round of 16, but those teams aren’t exactly elite. And every group match was played at home in Amsterdam. In fact, sportsbooks aren’t even ranking Frank de Boer’s team in the top 5 of nations most likely to win Euro 2021.
A convincing victory at the Puskas Arena in Budapest against a Czech Republic team that played England close (1-0 loss) and tied Croatia (1-1) could win over a few more of those skeptics who are still not sure whether the Netherlands men’s team is back after failing to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Meanwhile, the Czechs are playing with house money after getting out of the group. Their formula has involved a compact, organized tactical structure that allows their star forward to make the match-deciding plays. Patrik Schick has taken on the responsibility of difference-maker in this tournament with three goals, emerging as one of the star names.
The winner of this match will be feeling a semifinal run is more than possible with dark horse Denmark awaiting next in the quarterfinals.
How to watch Netherlands vs. Czech Republic
ESPN will be broadcasting the match and the network can be streamed on fuboTV (7-day free trial).
Can Memphis Depay carry the Dutch?
The 27-year-old Depay was an up-and-coming star in world soccer when he transferred from PSV Eindhoven to Manchester United in 2015 for a transfer fee that reportedly topped $38 million. But he underwhelmed during his spell in England and in 2017 moved to French club Lyon, where his star shone bright once again. Now he’s set to join Spanish giants FC Barcelona this summer and he’s also back to being a big-time player for his national team.
Depay has two goals and two assists at Euro 2021 and he’s the reference point for the Dutch attack. His runs have been as incisive as they are unpredictable, and his 1-v-1 ability has created defensive havoc for the opposition. If he’s on his game and getting his touches, Oranje fans will feel good about their chances. But you can also bet that the Czechs will have a special game plan in store for him.
Czechs could miss captain
Vladimir Darida, the Czech captain and midfielder, missed the team’s last training session, according to reports, and left back Jan Boril is also out suspended.
Darida, a central midfielder who plays for Hertha Berlin in the German Bundesliga, would represent a major loss for the Czechs and his absence could disrupt the team’s balance. His fellow center mid, West Ham’s Tomas Soucek, would have to step up in a big way if Darida can’t make it. It’s the Soucek types that will be needed in this game for the Czech Republic: players who are prepared to run and chase all day. That even includes forward Patrik Schick.
The Czechs will be under no illusion that they can go toe-to-toe with the Dutch. The Czech Republic’s approach has to be defense-first given how few scoring chances the team creates (a non-penalty expected goals of 2.4 over its three group games).
Netherlands vs. Czech Republic odds & prediction
There’s history between these two teams and the Czechs were a big reason the Dutch missed out on qualifying for the Euro 2016. The recent precedents will surely have the Czech Republic confident that it can manage to get another result on neutral territory in Budapest.
The Czechs are a hard-working, conservative side that will sit deep and concede very little defensively. Expect them to impose a physical style against the slick-passing Dutch and attempt to take them out of their preferred rhythm. A choppy game will suit the underdogs.
The Czech Republic will make sure that this game is a tight one and it will be decided by one or two key moments that will tip the balance. But if the Dutch somehow score early, it could get ugly. It might be worth seeing how the first 10-15 minutes play out and then looking to see if the “Under 2.5 total goals” is still available at attractive odds.
Prediction: Netherlands 1, Czech Republic 0
Odds courtesy of DraftKings
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