Oranje takes on North Macedonia in last Euro '20 group match; Undecided on Budapest LGBTQ statement
The Dutch men’s national football team is set to close their group stage campaign at Euro 2020 with their match against North Macedonia on Monday. The match will kick-off at 6 p.m. at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, and will be broadcast in the Netherlands on NPO1.
“I think we can still improve things. The system will remain the same because we’ve had good moments, but we can still improve things,“ said team manager Frank de Boer during the pre-match press conference, a reference to the controversial 5-3-2 formation. “It’s about getting the Netherlands into the last 16 best we can. We think this is the best way.”
De Boer confirmed he will make just two changes to his starting lineup, with pundits speculating that Donyell Malen and Ryan Gravenberch will be on the field at kick-off. De Boer is free of injury concerns heading into the match, although Marten de Roon has a yellow card looming over him which could lead to him missing the Round of 16 game if he receives another.
Gravenberch replaced midfielder De Roon against Austria in the 74th minute. Malen was substituted for forward Wout Weghorst in the 64th minute against Austria, and for Memphis Depay in the 90th minute when playing Ukraine.
Oranje has already qualified for the knockout stages after claiming six points from their first two games with victories over Ukraine and Austria. Oranje will most likely play their next game after this one in Budapest on June 27. There they will face the third-placed team from Group D, E, or F.
De Boer had no substantive comment about how or if the Dutch team would protest against a strict law enacted in Hungary against its community of diverse genders and sexualities. Many Dutch organizations including national football association KNVB have taken a stance against the law, which largely prohibits the open discussion of homosexuality, gender identity or gender reassignment.
Last year, the Dutch team played a match with the slogan #OneLove, part of a KNVB campaign to embrace people from different races, religions, sexual orientations and genders. "We haven't spoken about it yet. We are only concerned with football here," De Boer said.
The Netherlands has already effectively secured first place in Group C. Even if the Dutch were upset by North Macedonia, they would almost certainly remain on top of the group thanks to their superior head-to-head record against both Austria and Ukraine. North Macedonia has virtually no chance of advancing to the next round following losses against Ukraine and Austria, and have little to play for but pride.
That puts Oranje in a very convenient position. The Netherlands has never lost to North Macedonia before, having won two and drawn two of their previous four encounters. Like in Euro 2000 and Euro 2008, the Netherlands is aiming for another perfect group stage record.
Austria is taking on Ukraine in the other Group C game on Monday, which will air at 6 p.m. on NPO2. Ukraine will secure second place with a victory or a draw. Austria, on the other hand, needs to win to guarantee a Round 16 game against Italy. The third-place team will have to wait until the end of all group stage matches to see if they advance as one of the four best out of all teams placing third at this stage in the tournament.