The Oranje were expected by some to crash and burn in this Euro 2020. Three group stage matches later, the Oranje were still alive. Not only are they alive, but as group winners, they got a favorable draw in the knockout stages. So far, so good for the Oranje and perhaps the best is yet to come. 

For many, Euro 2020 now begins as we prepare to enjoy the knockout stages. The Oranje are one of the final 16 teams and their path to the Final begins with a clash against the Czech Republic. The last time these two sides faced each other in the European Championships delivered an unforgettable and painful game in 2004. Frank de Boer was an unused substitute for that game and now, he will be on the touchline as the Oranje try to make amends for that bitter loss in 2004. Frank has been everyone’s favourite whipping boy, both in the Dutch media and the international media. Nevertheless, the Oranje won their group with three wins and were also entertaining, so Frank deserves some credit. 

Of course, some opted to hold off from praising Frank, claiming the Oranje were lucky to be in an easy group and haven’t faced anyone strong yet. Well, it’s not as if he picked the group teams personally. You can only beat what’s in front of you, and his team has just done that. Frank also has done a good enough job of not messing things up, such as starting Luuk De Jong ahead of Wout Weghorst and Donyell Malen, and the team has chemistry on the pitch with Georginio Wijnaldum and Memphis Depay shining in the tournament. More importantly, the players seem to be on the same page inside the locker room, unlike what we witnessed during Euro 96 and Euro 2012 where internal issues divided the team and affected their performances.

The real test now begins. We’ve seen the Oranje do well in the group but disappoint in the knockout stages in previous European Championships. So far, so good by the Oranje and we can only hope they keep on doing well and show us that the best is yet to come.

Ibrahim Ayyub (24 Posts)