Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman hopes his side can pull off victory over France in Friday’s European 2024 qualifier even if they have been hit hard by injuries.
“I see crazy results every week,” he told a press conference on Monday. “We hope to have such a plan on Friday that we can make it very difficult for France and also get a result.”
“Of course, we realise that we do not have the strongest team. But that means nothing in football, I see matches and results every week where you think: how did that happen?” said the former Barcelona manager.
The Dutch had lost influential midfielder Frenkie de Jong, Matthijs de Ligt and strikers Cody Gakpo and Memphis Depay before naming their squad last Friday. Since then goalkeeper Mark Flekken, Steven Berghuis and Teun Koopmeiners have also pulled out injured.
“What’s the reason for all those withdrawals? That purely has to do with the calendar. They are sometimes real football injuries, but I also see a lot of muscle injuries. France also suddenly has three dropouts,” Koeman said.
“But it seems that nothing can be done about the calendar, which is impossibly full. I try to discuss it every year at UEFA, but it only seems to get crazier. Just look at the 2030 World Cup, with matches in three continents,” he added referring to the tournament which will be hosted in South America, Africa and Europe.
With Flekken withdrawing, the Dutch coach believes Bart Verbruggen from Brighton & Hove Albion is a goalkeeper for the future.
“As long as Bart doesn’t play the shallow balls in his own box,” Koeman said, joking about the mistake Verbruggen made against Liverpool on Sunday in the Premier League fixture. “I’ve already talked to him about that.”
France heads the Group B standings with a 100% record after five matches. The Netherlands is tied in second place on nine points from four games, along with Greece which played one game more.
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