Netherlands coach Mark Parsons has called on his team to be ‘braver’ in attack in their remaining Euro 2022 group games following a tense opener against Sweden that finished 1-1.
The reigning champions were on the backfoot during the first half but grew into the contest after tweaking things at the interval. Parsons is now keen to see more of the second half performance as the Dutch team looks ahead to facing Portugal and Switzerland over the next week.
Parsons admitted his side left too much space for Sweden to play in during the first half, meaning the likes of Vivianne Miedema and Jill Roord had to cover bigger distances than they would have expected to in terms of running.
After shifting Roord infield to get closer to Miedema and having Danielle van de Donk fill the role a little wider protecting right-back Lynn Wilms, things noticeably improved.
“Second half was much better…we dared to play, but there’s more to come in bringing our attacking qualities,” Parsons said as he reflected on the game and looked ahead.
“It was fun to see that when Viv and others had the ball, Sweden just wanted to drop [deep]. We’ve got to be braver to get those moments – when you lose your captain and lose a centre-back, the mindset and emotions can be all over the place – but everyone stayed calm.
“Disappointed that we couldn’t get a couple more chances because we had them on the ropes in the second half. We’ll take the point, put Viv in the fridge, recover, get ready for the next game.
“We knew we were going to have to grow into the tournament and now we look forward to being better with the ball and creating more chances.”
Offering a prognosis on the first half injuries suffered by goalkeeper and captain Sari van Veenendaal and centre-back Aniek Nouwen, Parsons simply said, ‘Not great’. That raises questions over whether either will be fit again before the end of the tournament.
What was extremely clear at the game in Sheffield was the incredible atmosphere, which had been building for hours in the city ahead of the evening kick-off. Dutch fans in particular have a reputation for their passionate pre-game support marching to stadiums as a collective.
“My mum and dad were part of that…they said it was amazing,” Miedema commented.
“I’ve said it so many times before [that] our fans are probably the best fans. There were a lot of Swedish fans as well, which was amazing. I think the atmosphere was amazing for both teams and we’re lucky to have those fans with us.“