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Preview: Romania vs. Netherlands – prediction, team news, lineups – Sports Mole

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Euro 2024 surprise package Romania seek to pull off another surprise German scalp in Munich on Tuesday night, when they pit their wits against the Netherlands in the last 16.
Edward Iordanescu‘s men topped an extremely tight Group E to earn a date with the Dutch, who were condemned to an unexpected third-placed finish in Group D.

Romania's Razvan Marin celebrates scoring their first goal with Nicolae Stanciu on June 26, 2024© Reuters
Had one been told before the tournament that one of Romania and Netherlands would top their groups while the other sneaked through in third place, few eyelids should have been batted, but the order of the Allianz Arena competitors was the opposite of what was initially expected.
For the very first time in the history of the men’s European Championships, all four teams in one section accumulated the same number of points, as Romania, Ukraine, Belgium and Slovakia all won one, drew one and lost one of their affairs to put four on the board.
However, thanks to their astounding three-goal success over Ukraine and score draw with Slovakia on the final day – where Razvan Marin struck his second goal of the tournament from the penalty spot – Romania’s superior goals scored tally saw the Tricolours emerge victorious from the section.
In doing so, Romania ended a 24-year exile from the knockout stages of major tournaments, having last progressed beyond the group stage of a European Championships in 2000 before falling at the first hurdle in the 2008 and 2016 editions.
The Tricolours did not need to traverse a last-16 battle that year, though – instead going straight through to the quarter-finals and falling to Italy’s superiority – but they suffered defeat at this stage in the 1934, 1938, 1990 and 1998 World Cups, so history is firmly against them.
In fact, only at the 1994 World Cup have Romania won a knockout match at a major tournament – achieving a momentous 3-2 triumph over Argentina in the last 16 of that tournament – and their quest to prevail in a post-group stage game at the Euros remains unfulfilled.
Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman before the match on October 13, 2023© Reuters
Triumphing in just one of their last seven games in all tournaments does not provide Romania with much scope for optimism either, but the Tricolours’ upcoming foes have not hit the heights expected of them in Germany thus far, underlined by their third-place saving grace.
After relying on Wout Weghorst – literally the big man up top – to complete their comeback against Poland, Ronald Koeman‘s side were left to rue Xavi Simons‘s controversially disallowed goal in their scoreless stalemate with France before coming out on the wrong end of a 3-2 scoreline versus Austria on June 25.
Twice Oranje fell behind to Ralf Rangnick‘s side, and twice they pegged Das Team back, but an 80th-minute Marcel Sabitzer strike ensured that Austria would unexpectedly top Group D, demote France to second place and leave Koeman’s men to qualify as the best bronze medallists.
However, the Dutch should no doubt reflect on the positives of avoiding being in the same knockout section as Belgium, Spain, Germany and Portugal in the knockout rounds, and with Italy now clearing out their lockers, the Netherlands are the only team left in their eight-nation path to have won the men’s European Championship.
While history is not exactly in Romania’s favour this weekend, Oranje are also fighting some demons of major tournament past, having lost each of their last three knockout matches at the European Championships; only Yugoslavia – from 1968 to 2000 – have lost four on the spin.
Nevertheless, Oranje have been subjected to defeat in just one of their previous 13 ties with Romania – going down 1-0 in a Euro 2008 qualifier – but they rectified those errors with a 2-0 triumph in the finals that year, in what remains their sole major tournament battle to date.
Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Robin van Persie scored the goals on that occasion, which marked the beginning of a four-game winless run for the Dutch against the Romanians, most recently easing to a 3-0 friendly success in November 2017, a goal rush sparked by current number nine Memphis Depay.

Netherlands' Joey Veerman on June 25, 2024 [IMAGO]© Imago
An unwanted defensive alteration must be made by Romania boss Iordanescu, who has lost left-back Nicusor Bancu to an accumulation of yellow cards; the 31-year-old was cautioned for the second time in the group stage against Slovakia.
Right-back Vasile Mogos and Deian Sorescu – who is more comfortable in an attacking role – are considered the two main contenders to replace Bancu, and the former could be given the nod owing to his defensive nous, thereby shifting Andrei Ratiu out to the left.
On a brighter note, two-goal man Marin has been training fully after a brief period on the sidelines due to overload, and Iordanescu has the best kind of attacking dilemma, where Ianis Hagi, Dennis Man, Florinel Coman and Valentin Mihaila are all battling for two spots either side of Denis Dragus.
In contrast, every Dutch troop should be available for selection in Munich, but a tactical change is expected in midfield, after Joey Veerman was sacrificed after just 35 minutes of the final group loss to Austria.
The PSV Eindhoven man – who cut a crestfallen figure on the bench – will surely drop out for returning star Simons, whose recall will push Tijjani Reijnders into a deeper role alongside Jerdy Schouten, who will miss any quarter-final if he is cautioned on Tuesday.
In-demand Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee is now training fully once more following a brief illness, but having broken his Euros duck last time out, Memphis Depay’s spot in attack is surely safe as the 46-goal man chases down Robin van Persie’s all-time men’s record of 50 for the Netherlands national team.

Romania possible starting lineup:
Nita; Mogos, Dragusin, Burca, Ratiu; R. Marin, S. Marin, Stanciu; Hagi, Dragus, Coman
Netherlands possible starting lineup:
Verbruggen; Dumfries, De Vrij, Van Dijk, Ake; Reijnders, Schouten; Frimpong, Simons, Gakpo; Depay

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With all due respect to Romania, their dampening loss to an otherwise disappointing Belgium side showed that the big boys can still expose their frailties, and they had two goalkeeping errors to thank for their opening success over Ukraine in the group phase.
While the Netherlands have not shown what they are truly capable of so far, Koeman’s effervescent attackers should come up trumps to set up a quarter-final showdown with either Turkey or group-stage foes Austria.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.

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