The Netherlands team received a lot of stick for their 3-5-2 formation under manager Frank de Boer. However, criticisms suddenly seem to have fallen silent following their sensational 3-2 victory over Ukraine where the Dutch players were constantly involved in attacking buildups.
Frank de Boer will be tempted to field the same system against Austria on Thursday – three defenders, five midfielders which includes two wingbacks on each flank, and two attackers – at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.
“I think we’ve shown that 3-5-2 can be very attacking as well,” Netherlands defender Stefan de Vrij said. “Within 10 minutes, I think we had like seven shots.”
The Netherlands team is historically known for playing a 4-3-3 system ever since Rinus Michels and Johan Cruyff’s total football philosophy changed the landscape of European football. The fans staunchly believe in it as well and one Dutch fan even went on to rent a plane and make the message clear ahead of their match against Ukraine.
Both Netherlands and Austria won their Euro 2020 opening fixtures. With another victory, both teams will be able to make their way to the next round of the competition. Austria defeated North Macedonia 3-1 in their Euro 2020 opener. This was their first win at a major tournament in 31 years and their first victory at the Euros.
However, those celebrations were soon muted following North Macedonia’s request which prompted UEFA to set up an investigation after Austrian striker Marko Arnautovic launched a nationalist tirade against Ezgjan Alioski while celebrating his goal in the match. Arnautovic did the ‘OK’ gesture, which has become a hate symbol used by white supremacists.
He was accused of yelling an anti-Albanian slur towards the Albania-born Alioski and stopped only when Austrian captain David Alaba tried to restrain his wild celebrations.
On the other hand, Austrian defender Martin Hinteregger thinks that the match against Netherlands will be very different than their win against North Macedonia.
“We’ll have less of the ball, but that could be good as it will give us more chance to play on the counter,” Hinteregger said. “The Netherlands have incredible players, so we’ll need a top, united team performance to defend against their strong attacks.”
Meanwhile, Netherlands can expect the return of defender Matthijs de Ligt. De Ligt ended up missing the first match because of a groin injury and is expected to make his return in the match against Austria on Thursday.
“I believe he is very physically fit, and he looks really well, so he looks ready to play,” De Vrij said.