NED vs ROM, Euro 2024 round of 16: Wary Netherlands looks to find rhythm against Romania

The Netherlands might have emerged from a disappointing performance in the group phase of the European Championship with a favourable pairing but it will be wary of Romania when they meet on Tuesday in Munich in the round of 16.

The Dutch finished third in their group after losing to Austria in Berlin, but it could have turned out a lot worse after they avoided a potential meeting with England and got Romania in the first knockout round.

Romania is 40 spots below seventh-placed Netherlands in the FIFA rankings and has won only two of 19 games played in six Euros finals appearances.

Romania has also only won once in 14 past meetings against the Dutch, losing 10. Its sole success was a Euro 2008 qualifier, won 1-0 in Constanta.

There will be no inferiority complex, however, from Romania, which has little to lose and faces a struggling Dutch side trying to find some sort of rhythm after tepid showings in Germany.

There has been much soul-searching from the Netherlands after its three games, with captain Virgil van Dijk making an astonishing admission that perhaps they had over-estimated their own ability.

Romania, which topped Group E with four points, made an impressive start with a 3-0 win over Ukraine but lost 2-0 to Belgium and topped the group despite drawing against Slovakia.

Defensive discipline is the cornerstone of coach Edward Iordanescu’s on-field approach, and he was worked hard off-field, too, in order to creative a positive team spirit and instil self-belief among his players.

The Dutch, whose defence were sloppy against Austria, will be wary of the quick counter-attack, with Denis Dragus the lone target man.

Romania is without left back Nicusor Bancu who is suspended after collecting two yellow cards.

Dutch coach Ronald Koeman’s own concerns will be about his midfield where Joey Veerman was unceremoniously replaced after 35 minutes in the last game.

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A return to the line-up for the speedy Jeremie Frimpong is likely but calls for a switch to a back five, as employed under Louis van Gaal at the World Cup in Qatar where they got to the last eight, were rejected by Van Dijk.

“There’s no need to go back to that,” he said emphatically.

Forward Cody Gakpo has scored twice and Memphis Depay once in the tournament and substitute attacker Wout Weghorst has often proved to be the man for the big occasion when needed.

Playing in the back of Dutch minds, however, will be what happened three years ago at the last Euros when they were similarly fancied to beat the Czech Republic in the last 16 in Budapest.

They were reduced to 10 men when Matthijs de Ligt was dismissed and caught out by two quick goals to suffer an ignominious exit.

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