Euro 2024

Poland v Netherlands: Back Koeman's boys to make winning start

Atletico Madrid and Netherlands forward Memphis Depay
Memphis Depay has looked sharp on the eve of the finals

As Group D kicks-off, James Eastham expects one of Netherlands' star players to inspire his side to victory on Sunday afternoon...

Poland vs Netherlands
Sunday 16 June, 14:00
Live on BBC1

Favourites have run into form

Netherlands go into their Euro 2024 opener as one of the tournament's improving sides so we're backing them to make a winning start this weekend.

Manager Ronald Koeman has faced considerable criticism since returning to the job - his second spell as national team manager began 18 months ago - but there are genuine signs that his team is coming together nicely as the serious business begins.

In their two pre-tournament friendlies, Netherlands ran out 4-0 winners over Canada (Jun 6) and Iceland (Jun 10). Those impressive victories deserve particular praise given how the opposition fared against other Euro 2024 contenders: Iceland beat England 1-0 just three days before their Dutch battering, while France could only draw 0-0 against the same Canada side that Koeman's men comfortably dispatched.

At both ends of the pitch, Netherlands have class operators. Virgil van Dijk marshalls a back four that has nice balance in the full-back positions, with defensively sound Nathan Ake on one flank, and the offensively dangerous Denzel Dumfries on the other. At the point of the attack, Memphis Depay and Wout Weghorst were both on the scoresheet in those pre-tournament friendlies, while Cody Gakpo and Xavi Simons will be wide attackers with licence to roam infield.

Lewandowski absence massive blow

The loss to injury of midfielder Frenkie de Jong is an obvious blow for the Netherlands, although Poland have been hit even harder. Captain, top scorer and all-round legend Robert Lewandowski misses this game because of an injury he picked up in one of his side's pre-tournament friendlies. Poland were expecting a tough encounter when he was fit. Without him, it's impossible to make a coherent case for the underdogs, who struggled in their qualifying group and then needed penalties to get past Wales in the playoffs.

Netherlands are 1.594/7 to win, while Poland are 6.86/1 and The Draw is 4.3100/30. If the odds on a Netherlands win are too short for you, we recommended backing them with a -1.0 start on the Asian Handicap. With this selection, you'll get your stakes back if Depay and co. win by a single goal, and make a profit if they win by two or more goals.

A second market to consider is Under 2.5 Goals. Without Lewandowski, Poland's chances of finding the net are reduced considerably. The loss of such an important attacking player will only encourage Poland manager Michal Probierz to employ even more defensive tactics in a game where he was almost certainly already targeting a draw.

The conservative approach we expect from Poland makes a low-scoring encounter likely. Under 2.5 Goals is available at 1.910/11. We prefer the Unders at those odds than backing Overs at 2.0811/10.

Depay the man to watch

In the player markets, focus your attention on Depay. The Atletico Madrid attacker had limited match time for his club this season but looked sharp in his nation's pre-tournament friendlies, scoring once and assisting once across two games.

Depay is 1.9110/11 to either score or assist, and the same price to have two or more shots on target. Both selections are worth considering on a player that, like his team in general, appears to be running into form at the right time.

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