After three odds-against winners from his first four Euros tips, Kevin Hatchard's backing Memphis Depay to help the hosts secure another victory.
"Neither defence looks watertight, but the Dutch are the better side man-for-man, and have home advantage. They can win a lively game."
Netherlands v Austria
Thursday 17 June, 20:00
Live on BBC One
Questions remain despite strong start
There was a lot to like about the Netherlands' performance against Ukraine in their tournament opener. They played on the front foot, created plenty of chances, and Wout Weghorst seized his opportunity at centre-forward. The Wolfsburg striker took his goal well, he was aggressive, and he now seems to be ahead of Luuk de Jong in the pecking order. The wing-backs, Patrick van Aanholt and match-winner Denzel Dumfries, provided a constant outlet. Dumfries's late and decisive goal was his first in international football at senior level.
However, that 3-2 victory in Amsterdam wasn't without its problems. The Dutch haven't been playing 3-5-2 for very long, and they looked vulnerable to counter-attacks throughout. Despite dominating most of the game, they allowed a two-goal lead to vanish in double-quick time, and polarising coach Frank de Boer looked a bit lost at that point. It was only a needless error from Ukraine keeper Heorhiy Bushchan that gifted the Dutch the chance to fashion the winner.
De Boer admits that his players aren't entirely comfortable with every aspect of the new formation, and that's led to speculation that he could revert to a more familiar (and very Dutch) 4-3-3.
Juventus centre-back Matthijs de Ligt is back in training after a groin injury, and his return would be a huge boost. Owen Wijndal was excellent as a sub, and could replace van Aanholt as left-back or left-sided wing-back. Weghorst's powerful performance is expected to see him retain a starting spot, but a change in formation could see the speedier Donyell Malen given the chance to shine.
Austrians have stopped the slide
It's a shame that much of the focus following Austria's stirring 3-1 win over North Macedonia has been on striker Marko Arnautovic's extraordinary goal celebration, with the somewhat outspoken forward the subject of a UEFA investigation following words that were allegedly directed towards North Macedonia and Leeds United defender Ezgjan Alioski. Ex-West Ham striker Arnautovic has apologised and denied any allegations of racism, but the affair has slightly tarnished a terrific result. Arnautovic has been banned for this game by UEFA.
Our friends at Opta tell us that the victory ended a run of nine consecutive finals matches without a win at World Cups and European Championships, and now Das Team will look to win back-to-back matches at this level for the first time since the 1982 World Cup, when they won their first two group matches.
Austria coach Franco Foda finally saw sense by deploying star player David Alaba in a more familiar position as one of three centre-backs, and it was his licence to roam forward from that position that crucially unsettled North Macedonia. It was Alaba's pinpoint delivery that created the winning goal for Michael Gregoritsch, and although the goal Austria conceded was a horror show (keeper Daniel Bachmann looked shaky throughout), the Infogol stats show that Austria allowed their opponents an Expected Goals figure of just 0.78.
Foda could name an unchanged line-up here. Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer proved his fitness with an energetic display, which was particularly impressive when you consider he missed almost the entire season with injury. Arnautovic could replace Sasa Kalajdzic in attack, after the big Stuttgart hitman struggled to make an impact against North Macedonia.
Dutch can edge entertaining encounter
Although Austria played well against North Macedonia, facing the Dutch in Amsterdam represents a leap in the degree of difficulty. It's worth noting that Foda's side went into this tournament in poor form, and those problems haven't magically disappeared in one game. Goalkeeper Bachmann looked incredibly nervous in the opening match, and there are defensive gaps for the Dutch to exploit.
The Dutch have their own defensive issues, and I can see this being a really lively clash, especially when you consider that whoever wins the match is likely to top the group. Simply sitting back and playing for a draw doesn't seem like a risk worth taking for either team.
Six of Austria's last nine games have featured at least three goals, while an Over 2.5 Goals bet has landed in seven of the Netherlands' last eight outings.
I'll back a Netherlands/Over 2.5 Goals double on the Sportsbook at 2.35/4.
If you want to keep it simple, you can use the Exchange and back Over 2.5 Goals at 1.774/5.
Memphis to announce his arrival
Memphis Depay had some bright moments against Ukraine without getting on the scoresheet, but I believe this could be the game that sees him truly sparkle. The Lyon forward has scored in six of his last ten appearances for club and country, netting a total of nine goals during that sequence. He looks a fair bet at 2.01/1 on the Sportsbook to find the net.
Gini Wijnaldum is always a danger with his late runs into the box, and he's priced at 3.613/5 to score at any time, while Weghorst is 2.68/5 to make it goals in back-to-back Euro 2020 games.
Kevin Hatchard Euro 2020 P/L
Points Staked: 4
Points Returned: 7.56
P/L: +3.56 points
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