The Dutch team is approaching the round of 16 after drawing 0-0 against the favorite France

Holland, Holland, the orange part of the stadium was singing more and more en masse, twenty minutes before the end. Xavi Simons thought he had scored with a beautiful pass from seventeen meters, after goalkeeper Mike Maignan saved a shot from Memphis Depay. But yes, Denzel Dumfries was almost next to Maignan and was considered annoyingly offside, after almost three minutes of image study by the VAR. Which led to countless orange-clad nail-biters in the stadium where Simons made a splash last season. It was Simons’ last action of the game. The decision was fair. Dumfries did not deprive him of his sight, but Maignan was limited in his movements and could not go for the ball. The 0-0 was also a good result for a carefully played match.

At the other end, Antoine Griezmann, who was once again one of the best, was about to score. Griezmann, with a different hairstyle in each tournament and playing football in each tournament with an easy brilliance that is enviable. Just put a camera on his grace, as once happened to Zinedine Zidane, and you will have a great football lesson, accessible to everyone.

About the Author
Willem Vissers is a football reporter for by Volkskrant. This is his seventh European Championship among men.

Parading like a prince through Leipzig, always free, or the road to freedom. Sometimes walking, other times accelerating on the catwalk of fine arts. Tijjani Reijnders was sometimes seen signaling to Virgil van Dijk to take over the position. That took a while, or Van Dijk didn’t dare. But in that half-time Griezmann had already found an alley towards freedom.

By the way, he had the best opportunity at halftime. At least that opportunity belonged to Adrien Rabiot, who had to fix the angle, but opted for a failed ball that went deflected towards Griezmann. Yes, he was everywhere. An embarrassment for the once again praised public dressed in orange were the idiots who threw plastic cups at them when taking a corner kick. It’s not easy for some people to continue behaving when they drink beer all day in oppressive heat. And after the break, Bart Verbruggen managed to prevent Griezmann from scoring with a brilliant save, after a magnificent French attack and a nice pass from N’Golo Kanté.

Orange pushed back

The Netherlands played football cautiously and conservatively, and were increasingly forced to defend, despite the attacking position on paper. In a way it was understandable, given the important defeats in recent years against the French, one of the favorites for the title. And attacking is more than the result of an alignment, of the drawing on the national coach’s board.

Attacking is an ambition, an attitude, a sign of courage. Jeremie Frimpong came close to scoring after 56 seconds, it must be said, but the angle was too difficult after having won a sprint duel. But Stefan de Vrij or Virgil van Dijk did not move into midfield and mainly left Griezmann in the midfielders. Vrij, from Inter, with his teammate Marcus Thuram as an opponent, was slow and not very agile, although his passes were very good and he made few mistakes. And the left back Nathan Aké had a hard time with the speed of Ousmane Dembélé. Captain Kylian Mbappé remained on the bench as expected due to his broken nose.

Jerdy Schouten is a calm, good player who dared to make a risky pass. Xavi Simons ran and ran, but his efficiency was too low, even for that disallowed goal. Memphis Depay is out of shape again, although it was nice that ball to Simons, who simply couldn’t finish. Because that is what national coach Ronald Koeman speculates, that Depay will turn on, but Depay is again in a phase in which he wants a lot: to take corner kicks and free kicks, always combining. But he was often not at peak hours, where labor was occasionally needed.

Boatman on the bench

Compared to the game against Poland, Joey Veerman disappeared from the team in favor of Jeremie Frimpong, who played right winger in place of Simons. Simons played briefly behind the attack, Reijnders had dropped one position, to defensive midfield. The biggest danger came from Cody Gakpo, when he started a solo from the left and shot. But sometimes Depay came to him for the combination, when it would be better to leave space.

This resulted in a duel between two reasonably cautious teams, with the occasional flare-up. Whoever scored first would win and secure a place in the round of 16. And Holland scored, or at least thought they scored, and gained a bit more confidence, with a group of other players too, with Lutsharel Geertruida, Gini Wijnaldum, Joey Veerman and finally Wout Weghorst as substitutes.

Thus it was 0-0 and Tuesday is the last game of the group, against the strong Austria in Berlin. Holland finishes at least third in the group. Four of the six number threes advance to the round of 16 and four points are usually enough. But many people will continue to think about Simons and the three minutes of VAR. Simons looked dejected, as only he can.

Antoine Griezmann in a duel with Jerdy Schouten.Image Professional shooting / Niels Boersema

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