Showdown in Athens: Oranje is worried about the European Championship ticket
In Group B of the European Championship qualification, Greece completed its away task in Ireland with a 2-0 win. The Netherlands had hoped in vain that the current group runners-up would slip up. This means the pressure on Koeman’s protégés has increased before the direct duel.
The pressure has increased: Ronald Koeman and the Netherlands should not lose in Athens on Monday.
The Dutch media didn’t hold back after the Netherlands’ 2-1 defeat against France, but spoke plainly: “Oranje panic after defeat against Mbappé,” was the headline in “De Telegraaf” after the defeat in Amsterdam on Friday evening. Kylian Mbappé had demonstrated his outstanding skills with the Equipe Tricolore, and the Netherlands only scored the next goal after his brace.
Ronald Koeman took off his hat to the French world-class striker: “The fact that Mbappé scores two goals makes the difference at this level. We don’t have a player like that. But I’m proud of the team because they played until the last moment tried to come back,” summed up the bond coach.
Greeks can clearly distance themselves from Orange – initially
Of course, Koeman knows that his team’s ticket to the European Championship is in serious danger – the constellation in the group speaks for itself: Greece, second in the table with twelve points in one game more, is three points ahead of the French, who have already qualified for the European Championship Orange. With a victory, the Hellenes would initially clearly distance themselves from their opponents and further increase the pressure on the Elftal. A six-point deficit would be a significant psychological disadvantage, although theoretically not everything would be lost – after all, Greece will face France in their last game, while the Netherlands will host Ireland and travel to Gibraltar.
If we want to go to the European Championships, we have to win there.
After the game, Koeman also tried to console the soul and underlined his belief in his own strength. The ex-national player praised his protégés despite the defeat and that he had seen a lot of positive things. Captain Virgil van Dijk also underlined the positive aspects. “We fought and played some good football,” said the Liverpool professional, but also looked at the difficult situation realistically: “If we want to go to the European Championships, we have to win there.” During the guest performance in Athens, “the sloppiness” in some scenes that France had coldly exploited had to be eliminated. Leipzig’s Xavi Simons, who revealed deficits in the backward movement, chimed in: “Unfortunately things aren’t going so well, but we have to keep our heads up and play a good game on Monday.”
However, the personnel concerns – goalkeeper Mark Flekken, Cody Gakpo, Memphis Depay and Frenkie de Jong were missing against France – have not diminished. Striker Wout Weghorst was substituted injured in the 38th minute, but was able to complete an individual training program again on Saturday. So there is hope for the Hoffenheim striker, who accepts the situation as it is and looks forward to the showdown in Athens with excitement: “These are the games that you love as a footballer.”