Netherlands coach Mark Parsons has insisted that an in-form France will not want to face his team in the quarter-finals at Euro 2022, despite reaching the knockout rounds as a group runner-up.
Goal difference was the only thing that separated the reigning champions and Sweden in the final standings after big wins over Switzerland and Portugal respectively in the final round of games.
The Dutch squad has significant experience at the highest level, with numerous survivors from the Euro 2017 winning team and the side that reached the 2019 World Cup final. Parsons also pointed out earlier in this tournament the success his players have had at club level recently.
“France are a top opponent and so are we. They won’t want to play us,” Parsons said.
“We had a game [against them] in February and the result was poor. I looked at the players and they said the spaces and opportunities were there, we just didn’t execute. You sometimes lose a game and people will look this way, but within minutes of the whistle, we were looking [the other] way.”
Despite not yet managing to put together a polished performance over a full 90 minutes at Euro 2022, Parsons has also backed his players to step up for the occasion.
“I love this team more in big games against big opponents more than any other games. They grow 10 feet taller and are ready to play at the top of their game,” he declared.
Parsons had previously suggested it mattered little who Netherlands would face.
“There is no easy path. We’re here to grow and for the ultimate prize. We have to sit there and find ways we’ll beat everyone,” he had said after the Dutch beat Portugal on matchday two.
Such comments were echoed at the time by midfielder Damaris Egurrola.
“Whatever comes, I think this team is ready,” she explained. “I’m not really scared about anyone because I have 100% confidence in the team, the staff, everyone. I don’t really care who is going to come [in the quarter-finals], we can face whoever.”
Egurrola came into the side for the Portugal in place of Euro 2017 and 2019 World Cup veteran Jackie Groenen after she had tested positive for Covid-19. Despite a lack of experience at this level, Egurrola made a huge contribution and was named player of the match, before subsequently making way for Groenen to return against Switzerland.
Vivianne Miedema has also been missing because of Covid-19, while Daphne van Domselaar is doing a stellar job in goal in place of the injured Sari van Veenendaal.
Midfielder Sherida Spitse has praised the depth of the squad to come through the setbacks.
“I’m really proud of how the whole team has done in the group,” she said. “Now we have the next game against France. [Depth] makes us so strong, not only the first XI that is starting, but also the players coming in and the kind of energy they are bringing for us – that is the most important thing.”
Netherlands will place France in the last of the four quarter-finals on 23 July, travelling to Rotherham from their team base in Manchester.