Match preview for Netherlands vs Austria
These two teams’ first games produced a combined total of nine goals and the odds would have you believe this could be another Group C goalfest. You never know with the fine margins in tournament football, but if something sets this game alight early on, it's possible. By the time this game comes around we'll know if a win for either side will guarantee a top two finish, but the pressure is already off thanks to their respective match day one victories.
After a dominant first half without finding the back of the net, the Netherlands struck twice in six minutes early in the second half. Their good work was undone in the space of four minutes as they allowed Ukraine to pull level, but they were able to capitalise on some soft defending to steal all three points in the game of the tournament so far. After a self-inflicted scare, Austria had a much more straightforward victory against North Macedonia. They found the net three times but looked vulnerable to conceding a second at times.
There is no doubt that this Netherlands team has goals in them. The energy of the crowd in Amsterdam definitely pushed them forward in numbers and in truth, they could have scored four or five on the night. They should benefit from home advantage again here and regardless of the strong position they are now in, they'll be expected and want to win the group. Neither side has anything to lose and everything to gain by pushing forward and going for goal, but the Netherlands fans may want to see a more mature defensive performance and better game management if they do get in front, as their back line minus Van Dijk and De Ligt do not look good enough for knockout football thus far.
You'd go as far to suggest that De Boer may even make changes at the back, namely the introduction of Nathan Ake, to try and tighten things up. There's no doubt Austria have the more experienced and solid back three of the two, but this game could be largely decided by the two men either side of them. Stefan Lainer had a superb start to the tournament as he regularly raided the Macedonian left flank and opened the scoring for Austria, whilst Denzel Dumfries did the same against Ukraine and also got on the scoresheet.
It may have taken the Austrians 78 minutes to grab a firm hold of the game, and 89 minutes to kill it off entirely, but they managed the ball well in their 3-1 win over North Macedonia. The plucky Macedonians provided an obvious threat, but Austria will be happy having dominated 63% of the ball and limited them to just two shots on target. Going forward they weren't at their brilliant best themselves, but there were glimpses of their quality on show. The second goal saw a sensational assist from David Alaba and the clinching game was a moment of typical brilliance followed by typical arrogance from Marko Arnautovic.