EURO 2020 will be the Netherlands’ first major tournament since the 2014 World Cup and they arrive at this summer’s tournament with some great Fantasy options on offer.
There can be no denying that Dutch fans have endured a miserable decade. They were humiliated at EURO 2012, heading home without winning a single game. And even though they made it to the semi-finals of the World Cup in Brazil, the Oranje could not qualify for either EURO 2016 or the 2018 World Cup.
However, if you like a good omen, it is worth noting that the last time the Dutch missed back-to-back tournaments they won the next one at Euro 1988. Make of that what you will.
There are more down to earth reasons to be optimistic though. This is an exciting team with some real stars and a lot of young talent; and results in the last couple of years have improved, most notably under Ronald Koeman until Barcelona came knocking.
His replacement, Ajax legend Frank de Boer, is yet to completely win over the fans with his record of four wins, five draws and two defeats in his opening 11 games but a run to the quarter-finals or even the last-four is a realistic prospect.
The Netherlands may not be among the tournament favourites, but they start with a kind group in Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia; all games they are expected to win, which is great for Fantasy.
There is, however, significant uncertainty in team selection. Coach de Boer sprang a surprise last minute formation change to 5-3-2 in the midweek friendly versus Scotland.
Navigating an uncertain defensive line up and choosing between a host of options in attack might be our biggest challenge.
In partnership with UEFA, we continue our series of EURO 2020 articles by examining the Netherlands in detail to see if any of their players can compete for a place in your Fantasy teams.
ROAD TO QUALIFICATION
NETHERLANDS’ EURO 2020 QUALIFICATION RECORD
|Played||Won||Drawn||Lost||Goals for||Goals against||Clean sheets|
The Netherlands qualified comfortably under Koeman, coming runners up to Germany with a very respectable record of six wins, one draw and one defeat.
They frequently dominated weaker sides in qualifying and regularly scored three or more. This ‘flat track bully’ tendency could be an important characteristic given their relatively kind group.
They also showed defensive solidity as well as attacking prowess under Koeman, limiting opponents to few quality chances all be it versus weaker sides. It is worth noting though that heavyweights Germany had no problem breaching them, the Dutch shipping five goals against them over both meetings.
However, a long time has passed since the qualification campaign and the tournament itself given all the disruption to the sporting calendar. So, more recent data from the Nations League and World Cup qualifying matches can also help us assess squads.
NETHERLANDS’ MATCHES IN 2020 AND 2021
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In the 2020 Nations League games, the Dutch only managed to score seven times in six matches. This is a marked downturn from their free scoring EURO 2020 qualification campaign. However, they created a lot of chances, and significantly underperformed their expected goals (xG). That can often be blamed on poor finishing or bad luck and given the talent we know exists in this squad, we might want to give them the benefit of the doubt here.
The most recent results from World Cup qualifying are mixed. They easily dispatched both Latvia and Gibraltar 2-0 and 7-0 respectively. But they also suffered a worrying 4-2 defeat to Turkey. That might seem a shock but Turkey are a solid outfit who we can expect to be referred to as dark horses in just about every piece of pre-tournament analysis.
Taken overall, the Dutch have a mixed report card over the last couple of years. It would be hard to come down strongly and say they should sweep aside all before them. Yet there are plenty of reasons to believe they could rack up an impressive number of goals in Group C and keep a clean sheet or two along the way.
They have frequently put four goals or more past defences of comparable quality to North Macedonia who they face in the final game. Yet, Ukraine and Austria deserve respect and are no pushovers. The Netherlands will expect to win those two games, but it would not be surprising if there was only one goal in it if they did. Austria can be particularly stubborn defensively.
It is worth noting that preparations have been somewhat overshadowed by intra-squad wrangling over the refusal of some players to get a vaccine, which has turned into a minor national controversy. And De Boer hasn’t done his personal ratings any favours by claiming to have called players dropped from his initial squad man-to-man only for it to turn out some received the bad news via text.
De Boer’s run of gaffes was just getting started though. He followed up by giving incorrect statistics on Donny van de Beek (€6.5m), causing widespread cringing amongst those who follow Dutch football.
His latest offence is sending first choice keeper Jasper Cillessen (€5.5m) home at the last minute due to a positive COVID test, despite recently telling him he could join up with the squad later.
In recent years, pundits have spoken of a new togetherness in this Dutch side. Are all these recent off-field niggles an indicator that is unravelling? Or is it just background chatter that can be swept away with an opening victory in a kind group? That’s for individual managers to speculate on.
De Boer most commonly deploys a 4-2-3-1. However, he has thrown a late hand grenade into our predictions by experimenting with a 5-3-2 and some different personnel versus Scotland in midweek.
A 2-2 draw and a decidedly mediocre performance is not exactly conclusive evidence that this experiment will continue. They even went to a 4-3-3 during the same game. But we do have another warm-up on Sunday 6 June versus Georgia where we can hunt for more clues.
Uncertainty over team selection is likely to persist though. To make our lives easier, we may want to stick to a handful of nailed-on assets but those who do try to solve the selection puzzle may find they are rewarded with some high performing cut price differentials.
- Most Starts: Jasper Cillessen, Frenkie De Jong, Matthijs de Ligt (8), Daley Blind, Georginio Wijnaldum, Virgil Van Dijk (7), Ryan Babel, Memphis Depay (6).
- Most Goals: Georginio Wijnaldum (8), Memphis Depay (6)
- Most Assists: Memphis Depay (7), Georgino Wijnaldum (2)
Goals Scored: 24
- Goals Conceded: 7
- Clean Sheets: 4
THE KEY TARGETS
Memphis Depay (€10.0m) is the undisputed main man for the Dutch. If your impression of Depay was formed in his ill-fated spell at Manchester United then it might be time to re-evaluate. He is the talisman for both Lyon and the Netherlands. And has a lot to play for as he is in the frame for a big move this summer.
His record for Lyon this season of 20 goals and 12 assists in 37 appearances speaks for itself. And he does not miss a beat when shifting to the international stage. Depay boasts six goals and two assists in his last five games for the Netherlands, including that midweek brace against Scotland. Having free kicks and penalties does not hurt his case for inclusion in our squads, either.
The main worry about splashing the cash on Depay is a possible Dutch implosion if you buy into the grumbling about coach De Boer and the disruption from the background mini-drama around who is or who isn’t vaccinated.
But they are clear group favourites and at €10.0m Depay looks fairly priced given his high potential upside. He is well capable of outperforming some of the pricier forwards who have tougher group fixtures.
Whoever starts as centre forward, or alongside Depay in the front 2, should be an attractive Fantasy asset.
A week ago, that looked like it would be Luuk De Jong (€7.5m). But it was Wout Weghorst (€7m). who got the nod in midweek versus Scotland. If that was his chance to stake a claim, he did not take it and was unable to manage a single effort on goal.
De Jong has scored three in his last three games for the Dutch in 2021. However, his domestic form for Sevilla has been very poor. He’s been getting regular chances this season, but his finishing has been awful and he managed just four goals in 1,245 minutes of football.
Weghorst by contrast has had a fantastic campaign for Wolfsburg in the Bundesliga with 20 goals so you can see why de Boer is giving him opportunities.
If the next warm-up versus Georgia reveals a clear front runner, either could offer a great value way into the Dutch attack as well as an excellent differential.
Georginio Wijnaldum (€8.0m) could also make for a great differential at that price. Most people will know him for his deep role at Liverpool where he isn’t a major threat. This could keep him under the radar.
But he’s more advanced for the Dutch. Three goals and an assist in the last six at international level and that is no accident, he’s getting regular good quality chances. And he’s creating them too.
He also has a fixed role and doesn’t look particularly vulnerable to any de Boer tinkering. He’ll be an important player for this side and should captain in the absence of van Dijk.
The Dutch defence looks attractive, particularly versus Austria and North Macedonia.
However, they start against Ukraine who seem the most likely to cause the Dutch problems at the back. Since October 2020, Ukraine have breached the defences of Spain, France and Germany (twice). Just one goal each time, but they are consistently getting through versus tough opponents.
We still don’t know for sure who will start in goal even with usual first choice after Cillesen was sent home. That opens up budget keeper options in Tim Krul (€4.5m) or veteran Maarten Stekelenburg (€4.5m). It was Krul who started versus Scotland but he is yet to cement his spot.
Some Dutch fans are even calling for Marco Bizot (€4.0m) between the sticks after a great season for AZ Alkmaar. Whoever it is, a cheap Netherlands keeper is likely to be a popular option and for good reason.
Another potential value route into the Dutch defence is left back Owen Wijndal (€4.5m). He has good assist potential as well as strong clean sheet prospects. He is currently expected to start but comes with a health warning due to the rapid recovery of Daley Blind (€5.0m). If we saw Blind appear versus Georgia on Sunday then Wijndal’s place would definitely be threatened.
But it’s also possible that Blind could actually displace centre-back Stefan de Vrij (€5.5m) leaving Wijndal to continue (pinning down this Dutch defence is torturous!).
If Blind were to look fit to play the full tournament, he could be a superb option at that price particularly if he slots in at left back rather than centre back.
If you want to dodge the uncertainty over Wijndal and Blind, you could go for Denzel Dumfries (€5.5m). He’s a likely starter. For the extra cash you get similar potential for attacking returns but with significantly less stress about team selection.
And if you really want game time security, you could go for Matthijs de Ligt (€5.5m) who is the only totally nailed on starter in defence, but managers may want to observe the final friendly for more clues. If Wijndal, Blind or Dumfries look certain starters then they are likely to offer superior potential attacking returns to De Ligt for the same money or less.
THE LONG SHOTS
Steven Berghuis (€7.0) offers another strong mid-price option and until this late formation change he was expected to start. He boasts an incredible 18 goals and 14 assists in 31 appearances in the Eredivisie last term. Numbers in this league are sometimes inflated but that record leaves a big margin for error.
And two goals and three assists in his last five appearances for the Dutch suggests it can translate to international level. However, if de Boer persists with a 5-3-2 it may not leave much room for him.
Davy Klaassen (€5.5m) could be a great differential and that price point is very tempting. The downside is that Marten de Roon (€5.5m) may rotate with him. But typically, Klaassen gets the nod in easier fixtures and the Dutch start with three group games they are expected to win. Again though, the new 5-3-2 might push him out robbing us of an option – de Roon is not exactly what you would call a fantasy asset.
Klaassen excels on a flat track, with two assists and a goal in his last three appearances versus Gibraltar, Latvia and Turkey. And really, he should have added at least a goal or two more to that tally with the chances he had. If Klaassen does start he could do far better than that budget price tag indicates and free up valuable funds that permit more premium options elsewhere.
Frenkie de Jong (€7.0m) has the talent to be a standout player of the tournament but given his deep position the likelihood of that translating into a huge haul of Fantasy points is fairly low.
The Netherlands also have a wealth of young talent coming through, much of which we may see from the bench or in the final group game versus North Macedonia if qualification is already assured.
Eredivisie young player of the season Ryan Gravenberch (€5.0m) looks destined for great things but this is likely a tournament too early for him. He’s also a little too deep to be truly attractive as a Fantasy asset.
22 year old Donyell Malen (€6.0m) is a name to remember. He could make a big move soon and he’ll want to make his mark on this tournament. Very strong goal threat for the Dutch and for PSV.
In a similar vein is 22-year-old uncapped Cody Gakpo (€6.0m) who could be a surprise young star, although it won’t be that big of a surprise to those who follow the Eredivisie. He’s a regular source of goals and assists at PSV and tipped to make a big move before too long.
FanTeam Price Corner
FanTeam managers can make decent savings on the key Dutch assets compared to the UEFA game.
Depay comes in at €8.5m and offers a midfield classification while Wijnaldum is available for €7.0m.
That said, Krul will cost FanTeam managers €6.0m while Stekelenburg matches his UEFA €4.5m pricing.