France will play Netherlands in their second Euro 2024 game

Friday's Euro 2024 matches feature a matchup of the titans of Group D: France and the Netherlands will square off intellectually at the Red Bull Arena in an attempt to secure a spot in the round of sixteen
France defeated Poland 3-1 to progress into the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals
France defeated Poland 3-1 to progress into the 2022 World Cup quarter-finals

(Football news) In their first match, Les Bleus narrowly defeated Austria despite losing a goal to injury to their best player. Ronald Koeman’s team overcame a goal deficit to defeat Poland 2-1.

Early on in their Group D opener, Poland’s hopes of surprising the Netherlands with a header into the far corner were not harmed by the absence of their outstanding striker Robert Lewandowski. Instead, with just 16 minutes remaining, his skilled replacement Adam Buksa made a superb save.

With just seven minutes of normal time left, Wout Weghorst penned his own hero arc with a thunderous low finish to complete the Dutch turnaround. The Netherlands had answered in just thirteen minutes thanks to a deflected attempt by Cody Gakpo that fooled Wojciech Szczesny.

Koeman was more relieved than anything else to see his bold tactical decision pay off – the ex-Barcelona boss admitted that he considered playing Memphis Depay behind Weghorst but ultimately substituted the former for another Manchester United flop, whose winner propelled Oranje to the summit of Group D.

Leading the way over France courtesy of their superior goals scored tally, the Netherlands will guarantee themselves a top-two finish by winning Friday’s match, which would also represent their fourth straight victory after 4-0 friendly thrashings of Canada and Iceland in their warm-up fixtures.

Furthermore, when taking penalty shootouts out of the equation, only one of the Netherlands’ last 17 games at major tournaments has ended in defeat, although that did come at the delayed Euro 2020 competition, where they were stunned 2-0 by the Czech Republic.

In fact, a 2-1 friendly defeat to Germany in March is the only reverse that Koeman’s men have suffered in their last eight battles – underlining their status as a genuine competitor for Euro 2024 glory – but their upcoming opponents certainly had their number in qualifying.

Before being quickly reunited with their Dutch foes in the same finals section, France eased to a 4-0 battering of Oranje at home and also scraped a 2-1 victory in the preliminary section, leaving Didier Deschamps’s men with history firmly on their side this week.

As was the case with the Netherlands, Les Bleus’ opening success of the tournament – a 1-0 victory over an in-form Austria thanks to Maximilian Wober’s own goal – did not come without a strenuous effort, although they could have usurped Oranje into first place had Kylian Mbappe not spurned a glorious one-on-one.

While the Real Madrid new boy could not smash the ball home on that occasion, he sparked serious concern when he smashed his face into the shoulder of Kevin Danso, receiving a broken nose and a yellow card for his troubles; he came back onto the pitch without permission amid a substitution farce.

However, Mbappe’s assist for Wober’s own goal means that second-placed France will also be through to the last 16 with victory on Friday, and Deschamps’s men have found a resilient defensive streak when it matters most, recording three clean sheets on the spin.

Should Les Bleus come up trumps on Friday evening, it would mark just the fourth time that they have won both of their opening Euros contests at a single tournament, having previously done so in 1984, 2000 and 2016, three years where they reached the final.

By doing the double over the Dutch in qualifying, France followed the established pattern between the two nations; they have won seven of their last eight matches against the Netherlands, although Oranje have triumphed in their last two at the Euros finals, including a 4-1 demolition in the 2008 group phase.

Also read: Kylian Mbappe injury update by France boss Deschamps


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