EURO 2024 PREVIEW

AUTHOR: William Kedjanyi

EURO 2024 PREVIEW Sun: Poland v Netherlands

Poland regularly have reasonable hopes at international tournaments, considering their main goalscoring threat is the generational Robert Lewandowski, writes WILLIAM KEDJANYI. However with their main man missing this opening game and a potential group of death against France, a high-flying Austria and the Dutch, expectations are lower for 2024.

Lewandowski, despite being 35 has shown little sign of decline with 26 goals this season for Barcelona to go with his 82 in 148 caps for his country, so his absence will be a hammer blow against a Dutch side stacked with defensive options. Poland have areas of quality in midfield – Nicola Zalewski and Piotr Zielinski are technically gifted players with top-level European experience – but defensively they’ve been struggling with only 3 clean sheets in their last 10 (2 of them against sides who were down to 10 men).

Their penalty shootout victory over Wales in Cardiff to qualify for this summerโ€™s tournament was a momentous occasion for them, but struggling to score against a weakened 10-man Welsh side which has seen better days is perhaps more symptomatic of the Poland they are now, rather than the side who reached the Quarter-Finals in 2016.

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Poland v Netherlands
14:00 BBC 1 HD / BBC iPlayer / BBC 5 Live

LAST FIVE STATS

HEAD TO HEAD

SEP 2022 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE Poland 0-2 Netherlands
JUN 2022 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE Netherlands 2-2 Poland
NOV 2020 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE Poland 1-2 Netherlands
SEP 2020 UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE Netherlands 1-0 Poland
JUN 2016 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Poland 1-2 Netherlands

POLAND
JUN 2024 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Poland 2-1 Turkiye
JUN 2024 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Poland 3-1 Ukraine
MAR 2023 EURO QUALIFIER Wales 0(4)-0(5) Poland (penalties)
MAR 2023 EURO QUALIFIER Poland 5-1 Estonia
NOV 2023 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Poland 2-0 Latvia

NETHERLANDS
JUN 2024 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Netherlands 4-0 Iceland
JUN 2024 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Netherlands 4-0 Canada
MAR 2024 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Germany 2-1 Netherlands
MAR 2024 INTERNATIONAL FRIENDLY Netherlands 4-0 Scotland
NOV 2023 EURO QUALIFIER Gibraltar 0-6 Netherlands

Despite being regularly tipped to do well at tournaments, the Dutch – who are 18/1 for glory in Germany – have struggled against the best countries in recent years; beaten twice vs France in qualifying, and needing last-ditch heroics to take Argentina to penalties in a wild 2022 World Cup Quarter Final.

It’s said that defence wins Championships and Ronald Koemanโ€™s squad is stacked with talent at the back. 2023/24 Champions Denzel Dumfries, Nathan Ake & Jeremie Frimpong, captain Virgil Van Dijk returns for his first Euros since 2016 and the young phenomenon Xavi Simons in midfield will be sure to contribute in the attack with 10 goals and 15 assists for RB Leipzig this season. If Simons can find Memphis Depay (who Dutch fans will hope finds his best form) and Cody Gakpo, then the Dutch will pack an attacking punch. Denzel Dumfries is also a huge asset down the right.

The loss of key midfielders in Teun Koopmeiners and superstar Frenkie De Jong to injury will have a huge impact creatively. With no more friendlies, a new partnership will have to get up to speed quickly.

The Netherlands are still strong favourites for victory in this opener, an assessment which looks fair given how much talent Ronald Koeman has at his disposal. Back them to win and top up with a small bet on a one goal handicap.


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PROFIT/LOSS (EURO 2024): -7.68 POINTS


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