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Netherlands vs Turkey: Dutch hopes meet Turkish dreams

The Olympiastadion in Berlin forms the backdrop for an eye-catching 2024 European Championship quarter-final tie between the Netherlands and Turkey on Saturday.

Despite earning a knockout berth as one of the best-ranked third-place finishers, Ronald Koeman’s side are among the favourites to lift the trophy on July 14.

The Dutch showed glimpses of their vast potential in a one-sided last-16 tie against Romania, thrashing them 3-0 in Munich to book a Euros quarter-final date for the first time since 2008.

Liverpool forward Cody Gakpo drew first blood before Donyell Malen netted twice off the bench beyond the 80th minute to seal a dominant victory at the Allianz Arena.

Malen has fond memories of his last appearance against Turkey as he bagged a 90-minute goal to round off a stunning 6-1 win in a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier.

Desperate to settle the account, the Turks will take the field in a buoyant mood after dispatching Austria in the opening knockout round, courtesy of Merih Demiral’s match-winning brace.

Vincenzo Montella’s side ran out 2-1 winners in arguably the most enthralling last-16 fixture in Leipzig en route to their first Euros quarter-final foray since their memorable run to the semis in 2008.

However, the Crescent-Stars must punch above their weight again to replicate that feat, something they struggled to do in the group stage when Portugal humbled them 3-0 in their second game.


Since that’s the only blemish on Turkey’s otherwise faultless Euro 2024 campaign (W3), the nominal visitors deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Flying Dutchmen

Koeman has done a sterling job since replacing Louis van Gaal as the Netherlands manager following the country’s disheartening quarter-final exit at the 2022 World Cup.

His men are firing on all cylinders in 2024, netting at least three goals in four of their eight internationals since the turn of the year while bagging precisely two in half of the remaining four.

More importantly, the Netherlands’ outstanding scoring exploits haven’t come at the expense of their cautious defensive approach.

The most recent shutout of Romania marked the Oranje’s eighth clean sheet across their last 11 outings, although that’s a feat they’ve failed to achieve in four consecutive meetings with Turkey since 2015.

In fact, before the aforementioned demolition in the previous World Cup qualifying campaign, the Netherlands had lost back-to-back clashes against the Turks.

They ominously conceded 3+ goals, suggesting Virgil van Dijk and Stefan de Vrij will need to be at their best to fend off Montella’s resilient group on Saturday.

Montella looking to ‘Airplane’ Turkey into the semis

Montella carried the nickname ‘Aeroplanino’ during his playing career, referring to his trademark celebration, but it was missing during Italy’s defeat in the Euro 2000 final against France.

After reaching the tournament’s title decider as a player, the 50-year-old Italian is bidding to recreate that achievement as a manager of a free-firing Turkey squad.

He celebrated his 50th birthday in the Crescent-Stars’ curtain-raising fixture against Georgia, which saw Real Madrid whizz-kid Arda Guler score a stunning goal to inspire Turkey to a 3-1 win.

Guler wasn’t at his best against Austria, but Hakan Calhanoglu’s return from suspension will likely alleviate some pressure on the young gun in the most significant game of his career.

If there’s a team capable of outgunning the Netherlands, it’s the Turks.

With only Germany and Spain boasting better scoring records than Turkey’s seven, Guler and his teammates will take to the Olymiastadion pitch with confidence.

Netherlands vs Turkey potential line-ups

Netherlands (4-2-3-1): Bart Verbruggen; Denzel Dumfries, Stefan de Vrij, Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Ake; Jerdy Schouten, Tijjani Reijnders; Donyell Malen, Xavi Simons, Cody Gakpo; Memphis Depay.

Turkey (4-2-3-1): Mert Gunok; Mert Muldur, Merih Demiral, Abdulkerim Bardakci, Ferdi Kadioglu; Kaan Ayhan, Okay Yokuslu; Kenan Yildiz, Hakan Calhanoglu, Baris Alper Yilmaz; Arda Guler.

Prediction

Given the teams’ offensive-minded approach, this could be a rare high-scoring fixture in this summer’s knockout stage.

While it’s impossible to write Turkey off before the start, the Netherlands seem to be building up a head of steam as the tournament nears a crescendo.

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