The Netherlands have defeated the Austrian men’s team in their Group C match at the 2020 Euro on Thursday, winning the Group and continuing on to the round of 16, known as the ‘Knockout Stage.’
The Austrian team is not known for being a dominating European football team, with a rocky tournament history in the recent past– they have not qualified for the last five World Cups and have never made it out of the Group Stage at the 2020 Euro. The Netherlands as well has struggled with an uneven track record: they failed to qualify for the 2016 Euro and the 2018 FIFA World Cup, but had an unforgettable run to third place at the World Cup in 2014. Despite this, Thursday’s match was highly anticipated, as it tracks the Dutch teams ascension out of Group C and into the next stage of the competition, possibly signaling a tournament comeback for the team.
The Netherlands’ stars commanded the field
The Netherlands are missing one of their biggest stars and team captain for the entirety of their run in the competition, defender Virgil van Dijk, who withdrew from the tournament completely in order to nurse a major injury. van Dijk is one of the most highly regarded defensive players in the world, but his absence has not yet proved to be a crippling setback for Holland.
Instead, other stars of the Western European team have risen to the occasion to lead the team steadily through their Group and into the Round of 16. Memphis Depay scored the first goal for the Dutch off a penalty given to Denzel Dumfries, and Dumfries later scored the second goal and game winner off of an assist from Donyell Malen.
The match was held in the winning team’s home city of Amsterdam, and the hosts did not disappoint their fans as they dominated possession throughout the game and saw many opportunities outside of their two goals. More than 12,000 people attended the match at the Johan Cruyff Arena.
Despite securing a spot in the next phase of the tournament, the Netherlands have one more game in their Group against North Macedonia. Austria will go on to play Ukraine, who lost 3-2 to the Dutch in the opening match of their Group.
This year’s European Championships were initially meant to be held in 2020, but were postponed due to the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on Europe. Although the tournament is being held in 2021, it has retained the year ‘2020’ in its name, and has been seen as the first major sporting event to be held with normal levels of fan attendance since the pandemic saw the restriction of public gatherings beginning in the Spring of 2020.