Ronald Koeman’s return to the dugout raises the prospect of the Netherlands’ second trophy in major international competition after their victory in EURO 1988.
Ronald Koeman is officially at the helm of De Oranje again in January 2023. KNVB just introduced him following Louis van Gaal’s resignation and their quarterfinal exit in Qatar 2022. He seems to be the right man for the job. The former Barcelona skipper and boss inspired Holland to recover from their World Cup failure in 2018.
Koeman’s first term, which lasted from 2018 to 2020, was deemed a success. He led Virgil van Dijk and co to the inaugural UEFA Nations League final. Sadly, they suffered a 1-0 defeat against the host, Portugal. The former Southampton and Everton boss also brought them back to the first major tournament final round in EURO 2020. Before that, Holland’s last appearance in a major international competition was 2014 World Cup.
Unfortunately, the global pandemic ruined the entire schedule, forcing the European Championship to be postponed. Koeman then left the post when his former side, Barcelona, came with an offer on the table in August 2020. It was a dream job he could not turn down although it ended in disappointment.
Should there have been neither outbreak nor EURO delay, Koeman could have helped Netherlands lift the second trophy. With notable wins over France, England, and Germany in the Nations League and EURO 2020 qualifiers respectively, they were one of the tournament favourites. His team’s attacking football, relying on the classic 4-3-3 formation, showed their true identity.
Will Koeman be able to replicate his success in the first stint? Does he have what it take to finally clinch Netherlands’ second trophy? The former Dutch skipper does have unfinished business, and winning a title is certainly his main target.
Ronald Koeman is on the Hunt for Netherlands’ Second Trophy
UEFA Nations League 2022/23
Netherlands’ second trophy might be secured sooner than later. De Oranje will be hosting the Nations League 2023 final four next June. They are taking on World Cup 2022 semifinalist, Croatia in the semifinal. This will be Koeman’s best chance to end the title drought as well as atone for his 2019 Nations League final defeat.
His current team has a lot to offer. Cody Gakpo, Xavi Simons, Guus Til, Teun Koopmeiners, Ryan Gravenberch, and Jurriën Timber are among the promising young players at his disposal. They are joined by senior players like Matthijs de Ligt, Frankie de Jong, Nathan Ake, Denzel Dumfries, Memphis Depay, and skipper Virgil van Dijk.
With such names in the squad, Koeman is expected to rekindle his team’s form from the 2019 edition. A finals appearance against either Spain or the EURO 2020 reigning champions, Italy, will be the stage to prove his worth.
The next major tournament, EURO 2024, is Koeman’s best chance to cement his place as a legend. The tournament – which will be held in Germany – seems to be the ideal one to claim Netherlands’ second trophy in the European Championship.
Their first one in 1988 happened to take place on German soil too. Ronald Koeman was one of the team’s key figures under the tutelage of the distinguished figure, Rinus Michels alongside Frank Rijkaard, Ruud Gullit and Marco Van Basten.
Despite starting their campaign with a 1-0 loss from Soviet Union at the opener, Netherlands came back strong in the following games by beating England 3-1 and Republic of Ireland 1-0. In the semifinal, Ruud Gullit and co managed to snatch a historic 2-1 win over the hosts, West Germany. It was also perfect revenge for their bitter loss in 1974 World Cup final. In the final, they were unstoppable against Valery Lobanovski’s side. Gullit’s header and Van Basten’s amazing goal on narrow angle simply sent their fans burst in joy.
It may be still too early to dream about it as Koeman’s man will have to go through from the qualifying round first. Their first game is on March 24 as they face off France away. The 54-year old boss has all he needs to be the best. Eventually, only time will tell whether he could equal what Rinus Michels accomplished or end up in the same misfortune as others since.