The final game of the Nations League ended in disappointment for the Dutch national team. Oranje lost the third-place play-off against Italy (2-3) in Enschede, finishing fourth and last in their home country.
Ronald Koeman was certainly hoping for something better when he returned as manager of the Netherlands. Between losses to France (4-0), Croatia (4-2) and Italy (3-2), the team could only celebrate a dismal win against Gibraltar (3-0).
Of course, France, Croatia and Italy are not teams you can expect to win easily. But anyone who saw Oranje play against Italy in the first half will be worried about the Republic of Ireland and Greece in September’s European Championship qualifiers.
Koeman asked his players to have plenty of energy before the game. He warned that the game against Italy will affect his decisions in the next few games. However, the Netherlands had a bad start to the game.
Oranje started at a slow tempo and lost a lot of possession. Donyell Malen lost sight of his opponent Frederico DiMarco three times in the early stages. Dimarco scored in the 6th minute from a Giacomo Raspadori backheel. The left-back was also at the forefront of the Italian’s second goal scored by Davide Frattesi. The only time Oranje was in danger was at the end of the first half. Kodi Gakpo’s shot went off target.
Oranje started in almost the same squad as in the semi-final against Croatia. Noah Lang entered the flank on the left wing, and Xabi Simmons joined the midfield in place of Teun Copeminers. The last mention comes as a surprise to Koeman, who said at a press conference last week that Simmons should focus on his left-wing position.
Koeman replaced three players at halftime. Wout Weghorst, Georginio Wijnaldum and Steven Bergwijn replaced Lang, Rutscharel Gertruida and Marlen. Playing with just three defenders ensured the team produced the energy the manager demanded. The home side created chances, but they didn’t go beyond Bergwijn’s goal. Chiesa scored again for Italy just four minutes later (1-3). Wijnaldum scored the winning goal in the 89th minute after Weghorst’s goal was disallowed.
https://nltimes.nl/2023/06/18/oranje-lose-italy-third-place-play-nations-league Oranje lose to Italy in Nations League third place play-off