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The Dutch took on Czech Republic in the round-of-16 fixture to determine who faces Denmark in the quarter-finals. While the Netherlands came in with a perfect record, their opponents finished as one of the best third-placed teams.

Both teams started at a rapid pace in order to find the go-ahead goal in the early stages. Netherlands were piling on the pressure soon enough, with the Czechs barely able to get out of their half.



The Dutch kept the pressure up through the opening twenty minutes but the Czechs were defending valiantly. They had their best chance with Soucek glancing his header wide at the near post. However, neither side was clinical enough in the final ahead to score. Barak was denied by a last ditch challenge by De Ligt while Dumfries’ cutback was scrambled clear as the first half ended all square.



The first Dutch chance came within five minutes of the restart with Malen clean through on goal. Vaclik dived at the striker’s feet to smother the golden chance. The Czechs went right up the pitch with De Ligt handling the ball, giving away a free kick on the edge of the box. After consulting the pitch side monitor, his yellow card was changed to red by the referee leaving the Dutch with ten men.



The Czechs were seeing more of the ball now, with Kaderabek’s shot was desperately kept out by Dumfries inside the box. The Dutch resistance was finally broken in the 70th minute with Kalas heading a cross back across goal. With three defenders on the line, Holes found a way to score and put his side into the lead.



With the Netherlands having to push forward more now, spaces were opening up for the Czechs going forward. That eventually translated into a second goal. Holes with the assist this time, laying it off for Schick to tuck it past Stekelenburg. They were now firmly in control at 2-0.



The Dutch had no answer in the final minutes of the game, as the Czech Republic managed the game wonderfully to make their first quarter-final appearance since Euro 2004.


Here are the three key takeaways from the match:



The Netherlands started brightly, hounding down the Czech defenders and committing bodies forward. But they lacked the final ball needed to score, often being forced back by the resilient opposition.

Nevertheless, they always looked scary attacking which will please Frank de Boer, even though they had not found the net till halftime. The second half got immediately worse, with Malen fluffing his lines before De Ligt was sent off.



They were losing the possession game after that and fell behind with Holes heading in with 20 minutes left. Now the Dutch had to attack, which meant a second goal was in the offing for the Czechs. De Boer’s attacking changes had little effect with Schick scoring his fourth of the tournament to hurry the exit route for the broken Netherlands team.



The Czechs were in danger of being overwhelmed by the frequency of the Dutch attacks in the earlier period of the match. However, they weathered the storm and looked confident going forward as the half progressed. A couple of half-chances also presented itself but it was the defending which was the clear positive in the goalless first half.



The backline remained compact and well organized, stepping up at the right times to make life difficult for their opposition. A Dutch sending off paved the way for them to take control of the game, with Holes providing the lead. One became two within 10 minutes, with Schick doubling his side’s lead after a pass from Holes to put them in a comfortable position. There was to be no further drama as they held out for a famous win in their history.



The Czech Republic have been extremely stringent at the back, conceding just two goals over four games. Devoid of any true superstar, they defend as a single unit with one single mission. Celustak and Kalas, the two centre backs were absolutely immense.

While attacking, they trust their forwards to get the goals and that has led them to compete with the best teams. Facing Denmark will be no easy task, given the Danes have scored eight in their last two matches but expect this Czech team to put their bodies on the line always.

Ratul Ghosh
His name means Red and a fan of devilish food, which equals to his favourite team being Manchester United. Can be found sleeping or in front of the TV otherwise. Hates waking up early but loves staying up late for football.

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