FILE PHOTO: Dutch national team players
Photo credit: Off The Pitch

After years in the cold, Netherlands are back and ready to take their place in world football and after missing out for a while, they’ll be expected to have a mark at the European Championships starting soon.

After finishing as runners up in the 2010 World Cup, and third at the 2014 showpiece in Brazil, it has been a downward spiral for the Dutch as their top players back then hung boots after long careers.

The Dutch transition was initiated a while back, with the reality of missing the 2016 European Championship in France hitting home.

It is not yet complete and we can’t confidently say the current Dutch team can match the sides that featured at the 2010 and 2014 World Cup finals.

That’s why even as they go to this competition, Netherlands will not be regarded as firm favourites to challenge for the European title even as they vie to add to the single triumph they had in 1988.

They were placed in Group C, alongside Austria, North Macedonia and Ukraine and will be expected to top this group.

Bigger expectations to do well at the Euros will be placed on other teams that have done well in recent years.

Spain, Germany and Italy for example will attract better analysis for success from pundits and the Euro betting tips and predictions on SportyTrader will also be expected to back them for success and while the Dutch lack their earlier gloss, the impetus that has carried them this far, should see them get at least to the knockouts.

Injury has robbed the team of a few key players, top among them Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk, while manager Frank De Boer has made courageous moves in dropping some but the talent in the team is still good enough for the job at hand.

Internally, it would be too much to ask, for the team to go all the way, say to the final. But with experienced heads including Gini Wijnadlum, Daley Blind, Maarten Stekelenburg, Tim Krul and Memphis Depay, this transition should hit the right rails at the Euros.

A clever mix of youth and experience should be a good backbone in this transition and Cody Gakpo’s promotion from the U21 team signals that ambition.

The youngster has done well at PSG and he is expected to learn a lot in a forward line that has among others Depay, Wolfsburg’s Wout Weghorst and Sevilla’s Luuk de Jong.

While this Netherlands team has come a long way, it is worth noting that the real promise for Dutch football isn’t even borne in the side set to take part in Euro 2020.

The real success story is in the Under 21 team currently taking part in the Euro U21 Championships, which has already booked a semi-final ticket.

After Cody Gakpo’s promotion, not one single player can be picked as the star of the U21 team. All of them have showed tremendous growth and promise, assuring of a bright future for Dutch football.