After missing the past two major tournaments, Netherlands’ run to the Nations League final, combined with Ajax making the final four of last season’s Champions League, is undoubtedly to the benefit of the Euros. Ukraine were so good in qualifying that they forced their way into the top seeds, dumping France into pot two. Austria are reliant on maverick striker Marko Arnautovic, but have talent elsewhere in Marcel Sabitzer, Valentin Lazaro and David Alaba. Of the playoff teams competing to complete the group, Kosovo were such a joy to watch in qualifying that it’s hard not to root for them to reach their first major tournament.
X factor: The Dutch have arguably the best centre-back partnership at the Euros. No centre-back has gone closer to becoming the first defender to win the Ballon d’Or since Fabio Cannavaro than Virgil van Dijk, while his partner Matthijs de Ligt emerged as perhaps the brightest talent of his generation in that position. Moreover, the pair also present a real threat from attacking set pieces.
Must-watch game: Netherlands vs. Ukraine (June 14) Andriy Shevchenko’s side are a tough cookie, having kept five clean sheets in eight unbeaten qualifiers. Draws in Portugal and Serbia indicate Ukraine won’t be fazed in Amsterdam, meaning it is a trap game for the Dutch. Atalanta playmaker Ruslan Malinovskyi looks like he came through Ajax’s finishing school, such is the refinement of his technique, while Gent striker Roman Yaremchuk — four goals in seven qualifiers — could not wish for a better mentor than Sheva himself.
Prediction: 1. Netherlands 2. Ukraine 3. Kosovo (assuming qualification) 4. Austria
Holland Football Tickets – 2020 Euro
Sunday 14 June: Group C: Netherlands v Ukraine (21:00, Amsterdam)
Thursday 18 June: Netherlands v Austria (21:00, Amsterdam)
Monday 22 June: North Macedonia vs Netherlands (18:00, Amsterdam)