The Dutch national team continues its European Championship in Budapest and Czech Republic is the next contender. Jaroslav Silavic’s team finished third in a group with England, Scotland and Croatia. What are the opportunities for the Netherlands and what should Orange be wary of? VoetbalPrimeur examines the Czech Republic.
Written by Everett Van Zoolen
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Orange . job opportunities
1. The removal of Frenkie de Jong
The Czech Republic defends with a man cover in midfield. This was especially evident in the match against Croatia. Pairs formed all over the field: when a player from Croatia moved in a certain direction, his Czech goalkeeper immediately followed him.
The Czechs guard all the Croats around the midfield. Source: BBC.
In this system, however, the mutual distances are very large. This ensures that the Czechs rely on one-on-one duels, as defenders cannot get immediate help when they are played. In the match against England, the only goal of the match was scored in this way. Bukayo dodged Saka past his immediate opponent and no one from the Czech Republic was there to take charge. This allowed Saka to immediately advance and launch an attack.
Saka dribble past his direct opponent and can instantly take advantage of the resulting space. Source: ITV.
If an Orange international can take on his direct opponent at the back, that presents opportunities. Frenkie de Jong has these unparalleled qualities. But the three defenders are also comfortable enough with the ball to put the opponent on the wrong foot with a physical trick and play someone like that.
2. Playing spaces in midfield
In the match against Croatia, the strongman’s cover provided large spaces in the midfield. The Croats have always attracted midfielders in the Czech Republic, after which the striker can dive into the open space.
Between the lines is fully open with the Czech Republic. Source: BBC.
When the Czech Republic chooses the men’s cover again against the Netherlands, it is important that de Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum and Martin de Roon move away from the middle. This creates space for the Memphis Depay, who can provide himself in the open space.
But it remains to be seen if this is possible: in the last group match against England, Silhavý decided to make his team even more compact. At Wembley, no cross-field doubles were made, but England’s central defenders and weak midfielders were laid off. So England players had more time on the ball, but the Czech Republic kept the occupation between the lines.
The Czech Republic is laying off the flabby midfielder and England defender in preparations. Source: ITV.
If the Czech Republic chose this alternative, then for the Netherlands it is important to “move” the surplus: not in the back, but in the upper majority on the field. This is possible, for example, if Daley Blind dribble in the midfield, in order to attract a player from the Czech Republic to him: in this way the Orange midfielder can be fired again. Another option is to allow Blind and Stefan de Vrij – provided he plays in the center of defense again – to tackle the long ball, to immediately look for space behind the Czech defence.
The Czech Republic doesn’t hit the ball, so Raheem Sterling can send a deep pass and almost scores a goal. Source: ITV.
3. Exploiting the spaces behind the back
In previous matches, the Czech Republic’s defense often interfered to catch players on both sides. When Patrick van Anholt and Denzel Dumfries are in good shape, this will often happen against the Netherlands. After all, the emergence of the Czech Republic will have to take care of the defenders of the Dutch winger, unless one of them chooses to return the entire winger with Dumfries and Van Anholt.
When one of the Czech Republic retreats, space is created behind him for Memphis and possibly for Doniel Malin. It is very difficult for the central defenders to follow the kind of training that the orange strikers do, because this means that the center is understaffed.
Right-back Vladimir Koval comes out against Croatia and creates space in his back. Source: BBC.
The right-back must remain in the man’s cover on the side, so that the attacker can be launched into the space between the full-back and the central defender. Source: BBC.
1. The man cap can lead to problems
When in possession of the ball, the Czech Republic usually looks to move forward as quickly as possible. However, this does not mean that every ball is played for a long time. The Czechs build from behind and try to find a free player. If it is found, it will run immediately. When countries like Holland and Spain play ball again when the attack threatens to lead to a stalemate, the Czechs continue to play forward at all costs.
They want to do this by creating a surplus on the field side. When the ball is on the left, all players move to that side. If the attack goes to the right, all players move to the right side of the field. This style of play is somewhat reminiscent of Atalanta Bergamo, which are also often collected from side to side.
The Czech Republic is trying to run a surplus on the left against England. Source: ITV.
Such a surplus on the side could pose a problem for the Netherlands, when Frank de Boer clings to his strongman mantle in the first matches. In this case, De Roon and De Jong move to the sides to cover their immediate opponent, while space is created in front of Orange’s defense.
However, it must be said that the Czechs do not always implement this style of play well. The case of surplus was often not played in previous games: when the opponent ‘tipped’ towards the ball, there was no opening on the other side of the field, where the space was created. Usually such an opening on the other side is the way to create danger, but we hardly saw such passes with the Czechs. So it is not surprising that the Czechs have not yet scored this European Championship from a good attack. Patrik Schick scored all three European Championship goals with a re-introduced corner kick, a 40-meter shot and a penalty kick.
The Czech Republic is especially dangerous on the rare occasions when it’s open on the other side, like here against England. Source: ITV.
2. An exercise in patience
However, the biggest danger for Orange appears to be Orange itself, especially if the opening goal is delayed. When that happens, the Czech Republic can maintain defensive organization and the Netherlands must be careful not to become impatient. However, if the Netherlands scores, the Czechs will have to turn up, so they have to give up more space at the back. In short: the Czechs can hurt the Orange, but they also have many weaknesses. This is usually a game that Orange should be able to win.
Evert van Zoolen is an analyst for YouTube channel TheNextManager, has written for tactical websites and magazines such as Spielverlagerung, TrainersMagazine and Futbol Netradince and watches important matches for VoetbalPrimeur.