Netherlands, one of six teams with the advantage of playing all their group matches at home, begin their European Championship campaign with a Group C match against Ukraine, who were unable to progress from the group stage when hosts in 2012 or in France four years later. Bith sides are led by hall of fame players – Frank de Boer, one of the greatest Dutch defenders, had two penalties saved in the Oranje’s semi-final against Italy in 2000 and Andriy Shevchenko, his country’s finest player of the post-Soviet age, who never made it to the finals.
When is Netherlands vs Ukraine?
The second match of Group C takes place on Sunday, June 13 at Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam. Cue Jacques Brel …
What time is kick-off?
The ball will be placed on the centre-spot and relocated with a touch of a player’s foot at the first blast of the referee’s whistle on the stroke of 8pm BST.
Read more: Euro 2021 TV channel schedule
What TV channel is it on?
This game will be broadcast on ITV and via the ITV Hub. The TV rights for the tournament are shared by BBC and ITV.
Read more: Full Euro 2021 fixtures list
What is the latest news from both teams?
By Sam Dean
It was Jose Mourinho who once said that, in his mind, a match starts with the pre-game press conference. For their sake, one can only hope that Frank de Boer and his Holland players do not share this philosophy. If they do, it would mean they are on the back foot before their European Championship campaign has even begun.
De Boer must be praying that his gaffe-laden squad announcement last month was an isolated incident, rather than a sign of things to come for him and his team. “It was not my finest press conference,” he admitted a few days later, after taking heavy criticism from the Dutch media.
The Holland manager’s errors were hardly egregious, but they were sloppy. And they certainly did not help his cause as he fights an uphill battle to convince the Dutch public that he is the right man for the job.
Firstly he got his facts wrong, saying Donny van de Beek had played around 4,000 minutes for Manchester United this season when the actual figure was closer to 1,500. De Boer also claimed he had personally informed the dropped players that they had been cut from the squad, which turned out to be untrue.
There’s more: last week he apparently confused Queensy Menig, a player who was not included in his squad, with forward Quincy Promes. De Boer was also criticised by goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who was removed from the group after testing positive for coronavirus. Cillessen said De Boer already knew he had tested positive when he picked him for the original squad, then claimed to have “no idea what changed” when he was dropped.
All in all, then, it has been a gruelling start to the summer for the man who was once dubbed the “worst manager in the history of the Premier League”. That was another Mourinho quote, this time in reference to De Boer’s disastrous 77 days in charge of Crystal Palace in 2017. Unfortunately for De Boer, he endured a similarly unhappy spell at Inter in 2016, when he lasted only 85 days.
All these difficulties will naturally be forgotten if Holland fulfil their considerable potential on the pitch in the coming days. They meet Ukraine in their opener on Sunday night and, on paper at least, their team looks capable of going deep into the knockout stages this summer.
Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt, Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum: there is genuine quality in this Dutch squad, even without the injured Virgil van Dijk. The question is whether De Boer is capable of making the most of the talent at his disposal. On that front, there are plenty of observers who are yet to be convinced.
It is worth remembering that De Boer was only appointed in September last year, after Ronald Koeman left for Barcelona. In his defence he has not had much time to implement his methods, but his recent attempts to adopt a 5-3-2 formation have not been well received. De Boer’s own brother, Ronald, said Johan Cruyff would “turn over in his grave” if he saw the team’s shape (although he also insisted there is a place for the system in international football).
Strange as it might sound to Palace supporters, De Boer’s best hope might be the unity and togetherness of his squad. Holland have had plenty of internal issues down the years but De Boer has described this group as a team of friends. “I am firmly convinced that you have to create a fantastic atmosphere during a tournament,” he said.
According to Holland and Brighton defender Joel Veltman, who played for De Boer in the Ajax youth and senior teams, the former defender’s greatest quality is his ability to build this unity.
“He can make a team from really young players,” Veltman told Telegraph Sport. “He can make them fit together. That is what he did at Ajax. He has to grow and make the team first, and then he can get the results. Most of the time it takes time to get the results. He did not get that time at Palace. Hopefully with our guys he can build a great team.”
Perhaps it was a cultural issue, but De Boer did not succeed in “making the team” in south London. Far from it. Some at Palace found him strange, others thought him to be aloof.
In fairness, he was not necessarily helped by the circumstances at the club. He was asked to transform the style and the feel of a team that had long been used to certain methods, and was given hardly any time to do so. Just look at Palace’s list of recent managers: Tony Pulis, Neil Warnock, Alan Pardew, Sam Allardyce, De Boer, Roy Hodgson. It is not difficult to spot the odd one out.
For De Boer, this tournament provides an opportunity to restore the reputation he had built at Ajax, where he became the first manager in the Eredivisie to win four consecutive league titles. He has not helped himself in the last few weeks, but all that talk will be forgotten if his exciting team can produce their best in the coming days.
Ukraine, whose pre-tournament preparations have been overshadowed by controversy over their kit, are a side capable of upsetting the odds but lack consistency.
The country’s football association agreed on Friday to make the phrase “Glory to the heroes” an official slogan, even though its use on the national team’s shirt has been banned by Uefa.
European soccer’s governing body told Ukraine on Thursday it could keep an outline map of Ukraine that includes Russia-annexed Crimea on the shirt, although this has caused outrage in Moscow, but said it must remove the phrase “Glory to the heroes” because it has military connotations.
Andriy Pavelko, the President of the Football Association of Ukraine, flew to Rome on Thursday for emergency talks with Uefa and said that 45 Ukrainian soccer executives had on Friday morning approved “Glory to Ukraine” and “Glory to the heroes” as official national football symbols.
They also approved the image of Ukraine’s map including Crimea as the football association’s official coat of arms, he said.
Moscow has objected to the outline map because it annexed Crimea in 2014, but the peninsula remains internationally recognised as part of Ukraine.
“Football symbols of Ukraine, long recognised by all our fans and the football community in general, must be protected and immortalised in the football tradition of our country,” Pavelko said.
“In all matches of our national teams! The unique national football code, which contains these attributes, unites all Ukrainians, from different regions of Ukraine and our compatriots from different countries and continents,” he said.
Ukraine has said the shirt was a symbol of national unity. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy posted a selfie on Instagram this week that showed him wearing the new shirt and his office defended the slogans as “absolutely correct”.
On the field, in their three World Cup qualifiers in March, they held world champions France to a 1-1 draw in Paris, only to then drop points at home to the lowly likes of Finland and Kazakhstan.
There has, however, been marked improvement under coach Andriy Shevchenko, appointed after they lost all three group games at Euro 2016 in France.
“Hopefully there will be surprises at the tournament and we will certainly be looking to create them,” warned battling midfielder Taras Stepanenko this week. Reuters
What have we said about Euro 2020?
- Revealed: Who will win Euro 2020 – and which outsider they will beat in the final?
- Euro 2020 kits: every team’s home and away shirts ranked
- Euro 2020 teams, player lists and rankings – our definitive guide to the 24 countries
What are the latest odds?
- Netherlands – 4/6
- Ukraine – 9/2
- Draw – 13/5
View the latest Euro 2021 betting offers.
What is our prediction?
Netherlands 2 Ukraine 0