Ronald Koeman and the Netherlands seeking to write history in Nations League
Ronald Koeman, the manager of the Netherlands team, expressed his desire to make history by winning the Nations League for the first time. The tournament will be hosted by the Netherlands next week.
The Dutch team will face Croatia in their first semi-final match in Rotterdam on Wednesday, while Italy and Spain will play against each other in Enschede on Thursday. The victorious teams will advance to the final on Sunday, June 18.
“We can write history,” said Koeman at a press conference on Saturday. “If you win something with a national team, there is something behind your name. That awareness is present within the squad. You can feel it, the players are talking about it, talking about winning.”
Four years ago, the Dutch participated in the inaugural Nations League finals. They emerged victorious in the semi-finals against England but were defeated by Portugal, who were the hosts, in the final.
“You saw how happy Portugal were in 2019 when we played against them. It was always about a European Championship or World Cup but now the Nations League has been added.”
Koeman stated that the Dutch football team still looks back to their victory at the 1988 European Championship, which he participated in, as their sole significant achievement.
“Everyone talks about 1988, when the tournament was only made up of eight teams. That says it all. There’s something behind your name. That awareness is there. We are therefore driven to win this prize,” he added.
Due to an injury, the Netherlands will have to play without their main forward, Memphis Depay.
“In principle, he has to train all summer to start the new season fit. I still think a fit Memphis is a great player but it gives us the opportunity to put other players in that position.”
Ronald Koeman came back as the coach of the Dutch team earlier this year, replacing Louis Van Gaal. However, his return was not successful as they lost their first game against France in the European Championship qualifiers by 4-0 in March. Later, they managed to beat Gibraltar 3-0 in Rotterdam, but it was not an easy victory.
“It was a very bad week in which everything went wrong. Injuries, illnesses, results. We are now playing a semi-final, so we can put things right in one fell swoop.”
“We are still not complete but it is also good if three Dutchmen play a Champions League final,” he said referencing last Saturday’s match in Istanbul where Nathan Ake lined up for Manchester City against Inter Milan defenders Stefan de Vrij and Denzel Dumfries.