The newspapers and football websites in the Netherlands had a clear picture of where a glorious Sunday was heading. Después Max Verstappen won the Styrian Grand Prix y Mathieu van der Poel took the Tour de France yellow jersey, it was time for the next Dutch Ms to shine.
Memphis, Marten, Maarten, Matthijs, Malen and the other Dutch footballers “only” had to beat the Czech Republic. A stopover en route to a semi-final against England or Germany, it was considered in the Países Bajos, después, in terms of result, la Oranje had rolled smoothly through the group stage.
But Frank de Boer’s team failed on all fronts against the stubborn, ultra-fit Czechs, and so Magical Monday turned into a miserable one for readers of the Dutch press.
“Although the presence of players from Barcelona, Liverpool, Juventus and Internazionale hints at potential, the Dutch national team has certainly not left an indelible impression at this European Championship," Voetbal International wrote on its website. “Individual flashes of Dumfries and Malen in the group stage were nice, but when it came down to Budapest, stars such as Memphis, Wijnaldum, De Ligt, De Jong and Blind did not deliver.”
Algemeen Dagblad zoomed in on Frank de Boer, comparing his tenure as head coach with that of his successful predecessor, Ronald Koeman, who left for Barcelona a year ago. “When Koeman started leading the Oranje squad in 2018, he quickly repaired the prestige of the national team. Oranje were no longer embarrassed against average countries and suddenly won again against top teams such as France and Germany. Now the image persists that Oranje under De Boer threaten to fall back again. Nil-nil against Bosnia in the Nations League. Thrashed last March in Turkey at the start of the World Cup qualifiers. Now equally powerless and put away by the Czech Republic, 40th in the Fifa world rankings.”
De Boer’s sudden system change was criticised in de Volkskrant. The formula with which the Netherlands became a major football country, 4-3-3, was changed to 3-5-2 shortly before the tournament.
“The Oranje squad went wrong” with 3-5-2, decía, agregando: “Suddenly talking about wing-backs to fuel the attack. With all due respect to wing-backs, because Dumfries was outstanding, an attacker can play better football on average than a defender. Otherwise the defender would have become an attacker.
“What have we been watching now, in terms of the Dutch national team, for almost a month? In an entire tournament, Oranje managed about 10 good attacks, most of them against North Macedonia, who had already been eliminated.”
There were also plenty of references to the 2004 Euros when the then national coach, Dick Advocaat, took off Arjen Robben for Paul Bosvelt against the Czech Republic and handed over the initiative and the victory (the Czechs winning 3-2). Bringing on Quincy Promes for Donyell Malen is regarded as the successor to that infamous substitution. Advocaat left, and De Boer should do the same, concluded De Telegraaf. “De Boer has performed anything but adequately with a collection of great players," decía.
On television the former internationals Wesley Sneijder, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Rafael van der Vaart strongly criticised the substitution. Van Hooijdonk said: “Malen is your most dangerous attacker, with speed, you should keep him on the pitch.”