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Preview: Netherlands vs. Czech Republic - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Sunday's European Championship clash between Netherlands and Czech Republic, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

A Netherlands outfit arguably exceeding expectations under Frank de Boer prepare for battle in the last-16 stage of Euro 2020 as they take on the Czech Republic at the Puskas Arena on Sunday evening.

Oranje eased through Group C as winners to advance to the knockout stages, while the Czech Republic booked their spot in the elite 16 as one of the four best third-placed outfits.


Match preview

Netherlands' Georginio Wijnaldum celebrates scoring their second goal against North Macedonia at Euro 2020 on June 21, 2021© Reuters

There would be no fitting send off for North Macedonia talisman Goran Pandev - although he was given a guard of honour by his own teammates upon being substituted in the 67th minute - by which time the Netherlands had already struck three goals to cruise to a simple success.

Memphis Depay was unsurprisingly the one to break the deadlock on the day, and the soon-to-be Barcelona attacker turned provider for Georginio Wijnaldum to double the lead before the ex-Liverpool man added the cherry on the icing on the cake with his second and Oranje's third in the 58th minute.

The ruthless nature of the Netherlands has shone through at these Championships, with no other team in the group stage topping the eight goals that Oranje scored in their three group matches, and De Boer has witnessed his side score at least two goals in each of their last 10 matches in all competitions.

Having seemingly found the optimal formula for success with a new-look 3-4-1-2 setup, De Boer is slowly winning over his critics after some pre-tournament pessimism with regard to their chances, and another welcome fixture with Wales or Denmark awaits should the Netherlands progress as expected.

Not since Euro 2000 - when De Boer was an integral cog in the Oranje machine - have the Netherlands opened a European Championships campaign with four straight victories, but having dazzled and delighted so far, a first quarter-final appearance since 2008 is no less than their ardent supporters will accept.

Czech Republic manager Jaroslav Silhavy on June 14, 2021© Reuters

Following in the footsteps of Scotland and Croatia, Czech Republic became the third team to be thwarted by England's staunch defence at Wembley, as a first-half header from Raheem Sterling was all that separated the two sides during a low-key affair in the English capital.

Despite falling to their first and only defeat of the group stage at Wembley, the Czechs' victory over Scotland and dogged draw with Croatia was enough for them to advance as one of the best third-placed outfits, and they have been rewarded with a fixture of daunting proportions.

In doing so, Jaroslav Silhavy has already steered his side further than Pavel Vrba could during their ill-fated 2016 run - keeping with the theme of the Czech Republic bowing out at the group stage one year then progressing to the knockout rounds during the next cycle.

The Czech Republic have never been knocked out at the last-16 stage of the Euros as an independent nation, but if they are to break the cycle of going one worse than they did in previous knockout rounds (runners-up in 1996, semi-finalists in 2004 and quarter-finalists in 2012), Silhavy will need Patrik Schick and co to be firing on all cylinders at the Puskas Arena.

The Netherlands and the Czech Republic played out a pulsating five-goal thriller during the group stage of Euro 2004 - during which Milan Baros and Vladimir Smicer completed a remarkable Czech comeback in a 3-2 win - and Oranje also lost by the same scoreline to the Czechs in their most recent battle in October 2015.

Netherlands European Championship form:
  • W
  • W
  • W

Netherlands form (all competitions):
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W

Czech Republic European Championship form:
  • W
  • D
  • L

Czech Republic form (all competitions):
  • L
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • D
  • L



Team News

Netherlands' Wout Weghorst celebrates scoring on June 6, 2021© Reuters

Netherlands forward Luuk de Jong will not feature again in the tournament after sustaining a knee injury, but having only played 10 minutes in the group stage, he will not be a big miss.

De Boer does have a dilemma up top in any case, though, as Wout Weghorst will hope to do enough to displace Liverpool-linked Donyell Malen alongside the indispensable Depay.

Weghorst's physical prowess and 6ft 5in frame may be preferred against the robust Czechs, while Marten de Roon should return to the XI after being rested against North Macedonia.

The Czech Republic, meanwhile, will be forced into a change at left-back after Jan Boril picked up his second booking of the tournament against England, so Brescia's Ales Mateju could deputise.

Silhavy should not make significant alterations to the XI despite their underwhelming showing at Wembley, with the only real uncertainty for the Czech coach being Tomas Soucek's midfield partner, as Alex Kral and Tomas Holes battle it out for that spot.

Schick sits level with four other players - including Wijnaldum - on three goals for the tournament so far, but he only recorded one shot on target over 180 minutes against Croatia and England.

Vladimir Darida has since emerged as a fresh doubt with an unspecified injury picked up in training, but he still has a chance of making the cut.

Netherlands possible starting lineup:
Stekelenburg; De Vrij, Blind, De Ligt; Dumfries, De Jong, De Roon, Van Aanholt; Wijnaldum; Depay, Weghorst

Czech Republic possible starting lineup:
Vaclik; Coufal, Celustka, Kalas, Mateju; Holes, Soucek; Masopust, Darida, Jankto; Schick


SM words green background

We say: Netherlands 2-0 Czech Republic

There would be no better time for the Czech Republic to record a third successive victory over the Netherlands, and they ought to be spurred on by the chance to emulate the 2004 luminaries.

However, De Boer's Oranje have quality in abundance in all areas of the pitch and firmly laid down a marker with their group-stage performances, so we can only back the Netherlands to safely advance to the last eight.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting over 1.5 goals in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Over 1.5:data


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How you voted: Netherlvss vs Czech Republic

Netherlands
81.2%
Draw
11.9%
Czech Republic
6.9%
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Czech Republic players applaud the fans following the final Euro 2020 warm-up game on June 8, 2021
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Thursday's key events


ROWING
· Comeback queen and super-mum Helen Glover goes for her third Olympic gold alongside Polly Swann in the women's pair final (1.30am)
· There is also a medal on offer for GB pair Emily Craig and Imogen Grant in the lightweight women's double scull final (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· As second-fastest qualifier for the final, Team GB's James Wilby is among the medal contenders in the men's 200m breaststroke (2.44am)
· Alys Thomas takes part in the women's 200m butterfly final, although he faces a difficult task to challenge for the medals (3.28am)
· Caeleb Dressel of the USA has been touted by some as the successor to Michael Phelps, and he has the chance to notch up a fourth Olympic gold in the men's 100m freestyle final (3.37am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· After Team GB's men narrowly missed out on a medal, the women get their campaign underway against the Russian Olympic Committee (3am) and New Zealand (10.30am)

HOCKEY
· It is a Great Britain vs. Netherlands double-header, with the men up first in Pool B (4.15am)
· Most eyes will be on the women's showdown between the two nations, though, as Netherlands - the world's best team - look to gain revenge on GB for defeat in the 2016 Olympic final (11am)

CANOE SLALOM
· Mallory Franklin takes part in the women's canoe semi-final, and will hope to do enough to qualify for the final later in the day (6am-8.45am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· With Simone Biles now out of the women's all-around final, the competition has been blown wide open. Team GB twins Jessica and Jennifer Gadirova are among those taking part (11.50am-2.05pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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