Europeans, Netherlands-Czech Republic 0-2, goals from holes and Schick

Clear victory for the Czechs, built in the second half after the expulsion of De Ligt (direct red)

From our correspondent Alessandra Bocci

June 27
– Amsterdam

Friends, but not so much. In 2004 the Czech Republic helped the Netherlands to qualify for the round of 16 in extremis, then the Oranje reached the semifinals. This time they sent her home with a proud and lucid match, the one that Frank de Boer’s men failed to do. Which now will certainly be targeted by home critics for the choice of the goalkeeper (Stekelenburg, disastrous) and for a thousand tactical quibbles that would not interest anywhere else in the world. The truth is that, like Italy, Holland went on velvet, too much, in the group. But unlike Italy it had neither the quality nor the character to maintain a leading position in Europe. Beaten with goals from Holes and Schick, the Netherlands will have to meditate on themselves and their weaknesses. As in 2008, a triumphal group and a thud in the second round. Better to postpone the 2012 edition: full of stars, he came out in the first round with zero points. In 2016, not even qualified. The curse continues.

Little balance

Whose fault? Of the coach, of the game system he has chosen, or more likely of the poor personality of the key men, Wijnaldum and Depay, paid in gold like De Ligt, sent off after ten minutes of the second half? The Netherlands started strong, but with little precision, the Czech Republic had the gift of patience and they weren’t too worried that their star, Schick, was not very active. He worked for the team, an obscure job that in the end paid off, while Dumfries’ did not pay, the most active of the Oranje in the first half, perhaps the only dangerous one given Depay’s bad day, author of only one play of class, and Wijnaldum. Result: zero real dangers in the first half e chance sensational for the young Malen at the beginning of the second. Wonderful personal action, too bad for the dribbling too much: Vaclik intercepts and after a few minutes, on the other side of the field, De Ligt is first booked, then sent off with a direct red after the call of the Var. After it is practically all a monologue of the Czechs , who score with the midfielder Holes after a sensational double mistake by Stekelenburg (corner given, empty exit) and double with Schick ten minutes from the end, crushing any shy Dutch comeback ambitions. Another blow for the Dutch fans and for a national team full of talent but not of character. Czech fans celebrate in Budapest, mostly also inside the Puskas Arena, already planning a difficult trip to Baku. In Amsterdam, where everyone was riding their bikes in the oranje jersey in the afternoon waiting for the match, it’s all gray sky and silence.

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