Rest or rhythm: Netherlands coach ponders Euro 2020 options

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Netherlands coach Frank de Boer has a difficult decision to make for his team’s final Group C match at the European Championship.

“Do we want to keep the players in the rhythm and further refine the system, or should we rest some of the boys?” De Boer said.

The answer is a bit of both.

De Boer said Sunday he would make two changes to the team that beat Austria 2-0.

National broadcaster NOS reported that a video made at the Dutch training ground appeared to show a note with a lineup that has Donyell Malen replacing Wout Weghorst in the forward line and 19-year-old Ajax midfielder Ryan Gravenberch replacing Marten de Roon, who has a yellow card.

De Boer, however, did not say who would be rested.

“We had good moments against Ukraine, we had good moments against Austria, but there’s still room for improvement,” De Boer said.

The Dutch are already guaranteed of first place in the group after two wins and North Macedonia has already been eliminated after two losses, stripping Monday’s game at the Johan Cruyff Arena of competitive significance.

Under De Boer’s leadership, the Netherlands beat Ukraine 3-2 and downed Austria 2-0.

De Boer’s key choice at the tournament was to play a system of three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards instead of the traditional Dutch setup of four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards.

He will set up the team the same way on Monday.

The player who has profited the most from the system is wing back Denzel Dumfries, who has scored two of the Dutch goals at the tournament and had a hand in the other three to become one of the surprise stars of Euro 2020.

The 25-year-old PSV Eindhoven player has been sprinting up and down the right flank for the Netherlands, carrying out both defensive and attacking duties.

“I just play my own game, as I always do, and I just feel really good,” Dumfries said. “It’s a different system which has its positive points. It gives me a lot of space to come up, which I like. I enjoy the space on the pitch.”

North Macedonia, which lost to Austria 3-1 and to Ukraine 2-1, will be hoping to finish the nation’s first international soccer tournament on a high.

North Macedonia coach Igor Angelovski applauded the way his team came back in the second half against Ukraine after being outplayed before the break. He wants to see more of the same in Amsterdam.

“We have to repeat the good moments against Ukraine in the previous match,” Angelovski said. Sunday.

North Macedonia captain Goran Pandev said the match will be his final appearance for his country.

“I think this is the right moment to say good bye to the national team,” the 37-year-old Pandev said.

De Boer knows North Macedonia will be out to snatch a point or three with a result against the Netherlands. He pointed to the team’s 2-1 victory over Germany in a World Cup qualifier earlier this year to underscore that Monday’s opponent cannot be underestimated.

“We can’t just walk over them,” he said. “We have to be on top form to win this match and they are taking it extremely seriously.”


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