Netherlands team guide Women’s Euro 2022: stars, players, coach, tactics, expectations...
The current Euro champions will fight to retain their title against some of the other favorites such as Sweden or England.
What are the Orange Lionesses worth without Wiegman? That’s the big question. After four and a half glorious years, the successful coach crossed the Channel last summer of 2021 to take over at the helm of English women’s football. In the search for a successor, the KNVB expressed the ambition to find a ‘Sarina Plus’. That was easier said than done.
In the Netherlands, only a handful of women have the necessary diploma and well-known names from men’s football did not dare to make the switch. “That is out of fear and fear is always a bad counselor. I honestly find it unbelievable,” said Wiegman on hearing the search to replace her was foundering. " If you can still work with this team ... they are so ambitious, so driven.”
Fortunately for the KNVB, there was someone in America who thought the same: Mark Parsons. The Portland Thorns coach was happy to accept when a call came. On one condition: that he could finish the season with his American club in the NWSL. The Dutch football association agreed and the deal was done.
The results were initially less than the Dutch public was used to. Remember this is a team that won the last Euros on home soil and then reached the World Cup final in 2019, losing 2-0 to the US. It should be noted that Parsons is yet to have the full-strength side at his disposal due to injuries. The change at the top did indirectly lead to a broadening of the selection. Lynn Wilms and Aniek Nouwen have been knocking on the door for some time, but now players such as Esmee Brugts and Romee Leuchter have also found the connection.
With Damaris Egurolla, Parsons conjured a rabbit out of the hat. The American-born Spaniard had the opportunity to play for the Netherlands thanks to her Dutch mother and after several positive conversations with the national coach, the talented 22-year-old midfielder – a rumoured €100,000 target for European champions Lyon – chose a career as a ‘Leeuwin’ (Lioness).
The almost sacred 4-3-3 in the Netherlands remains the formation, but there are some nuances. The British coach has tried to make a slightly more attacking team, the full-backs are encouraged to attack more often and the defence must be higher up the field to be able to put pressure on quicker. Full power as a team when losing the ball, is nowadays the motto.
Parsons is known as a workaholic and even before his first training session, he had watched 32 Orange Lionesses games and had 32 hours of meetings with players online. It is not without reason that his credo is: “People first, people second and people third. Only then will football come.” The squad had to get used to it a bit in the beginning and were surprised when Parsons’ name appeared out of nowhere on the display of their phone. Why is the national coach calling me? Bad news? The opposite was often true. In most cases, Parsons simply called for a chat. The conversations could sometimes last up to an hour.
In Vivianne Miedema, the Netherlands know they possess an exceptional talent. The Arsenal striker’s goalscoring instinct is of an unprecedented level. She finds the net several times a week from all angles and positions, with both feet and head.
The international tally of the goal machine from Hoogeveen stands at 92 goals in 108 appearances, although she has started just 93 of them.
After a season of constant speculation the 25-year-old recently extended her expiring contract with ‘her’ Arsenal in London. While almost all European top clubs were interested and Barcelona were an expected destination, Miedema stayed put and will start a sixth season with the Gunners after these finals.
Jill Roord was still the ideal super sub at the 2019 World Cup, where Holland were runners-up. But she never wanted to have the number 12 again on the back of her shirt. ‘The ideal number 12′ was a kind of nickname which drove her mad.
The dynamic and freescoring midfielder has worked her way up to become an undisputed starter. Partly thanks to 20 goals in 38 matches for her club VfL Wolfsburg last season, and two hat-tricks for the national team, in the 12-0 and 8-0 wins against Cyprus. Roord, who this year earned a spot in the Champions League team of the season, also forms a strong tandem with Miedema, with whom she was a teammate at Bayern Munich and Arsenal. But do watch out for Esmee Brugts of PSV. Probably not a starter this summer, but a player who could become the new Dutch super sub.
Striker Lieke Martens and national coach Sarina Wiegman both turned into heroes as a result of their brilliant work during the 2017 European Championship. The striker and coach led the team all the way as the Dutch Lionesses grabbed the first major trophy in their history.
Anyone who looks at the preliminary process, however, cannot ignore Vera Pauw. As national coach, she led the Dutch women to their first ever final tournament: the 2009 European Championship. Behind the scenes as well Pauw, who is a triplet alongside two brothers, played a pioneering role. She managed to get girls to play with (physically stronger) boys in a team, something many of the current Lionesses have benefited from. Pauw was also the first woman to complete her Uefa Pro licence and she became the first female national coach of the Dutch women’s team.
Possible ideal line-up/formation
Sari van Veenendaal (gk)
Lynn Wilms – Aniek Nouwen – Stefanie van der Gragt – Dominique Janssen
Jackie Groenen – Daniëlle van de Donk – Sherida Spits
Jill Roord – Vivianne Miedema – Lieke Martens
The Dutch have a good relationship with the European Championship. During their first participation in 2009, the semi-finals were reached and from that moment on, players of the national team received financial compensation from the Dutch federation and could really start making a living from their sport. While the 2013 European Championship turned out to be a forgettable one for the Dutch, with a last place in the group stage, the 2017 finals on home soil became the moment of the definitive breakthrough. The whole nation turned orange thanks to the victory march of Wiegman and her players. After winning the final, they even got a canal tour through the city centre of Utrecht.
Expectation how the team will perform
If they come second in the group behind Sweden, France probably await in the quarter-finals. Win the group, however, and the route to the semi-finals and beyond is open.