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Dutch aiming to build on World Cup efforts at Euro 2024

Dutch aiming to build on World Cup efforts at Euro 2024

Sports Desk

An injury-hit Netherlands kick off their Euro 2024 campaign against Poland in Hamburg on Sunday, hoping to build on a promising performance at the Qatar World Cup after years of struggles.

The Dutch failed to even qualify for Euro 2016 or the 2018 World Cup before a disappointing last-16 exit from the most recent European Championship at the hands of the Czech Republic.

But, under Louis van Gaal, they reached the World Cup quarter-finals two years ago before losing on penalties to eventual champions Argentina.

Ronald Koeman is back for a second stint as coach, with the Netherlands expecting a strong performance in Germany after easing through qualifying despite two defeats by France.

"We feel the hunger for results, the hunger to win something," wing-back Denzel Dumfries told reporters Friday.

"We now have several players who already have the experience needed in final tournaments, so we need to use that to our advantage."

The Oranje midfield has been hit by a series of injuries, with Frenkie de Jong, Teun Koopmeiners and Marten de Roon all withdrawing from the squad.

The experienced Georginio Wijnaldum will likely be a key figure again, while Liverpool's Ryan Gravenberch could be in line for more minutes than first expected.

"It's behind us, there is little point in answering all kinds of questions that are no longer current," Koeman said of his team's injury absences.

"We haven't talked about it since we got here."

Chelsea's Ian Maatsen was a late call-up as a replacement for De Jong and will be full of confidence after helping Borussia Dortmund reach the Champions League final while on loan at the Bundesliga club.

Maatsen had been on holiday in Greece when he received the call and his parents drove his football boots to Germany for him.

"It was quite a few kilometres," said Maatsen, who "fortunately only had a glass of water" in his hand when Koeman gave him the good news.

"I have really great parents. They do everything for me. So that was quickly arranged."

Joey Veerman could also be in contention to play in midfield, just three years after he was cheering on the national team at Euro 2020 as a fan in the stands.

Matthijs de Ligt was on the pitch, but was sent off in the loss to the Czechs three years ago for a handball, although is hoping to banish those memories alongside Virgil van Dijk in central defence.

"It's not something that crossed my mind. On the contrary. I think I've grown a lot compared to that moment," he said.

"Of course you're still disappointed, but it's been three years. You also have to deal with it."

- Poland can't just 'survive' -

Poland will be without captain and all-time record goalscorer Robert Lewandowski after the Barcelona striker suffered a thigh injury in a warm-up game against Turkey earlier this week.

But coach Michal Probierz is hopeful the 35-year-old, who has been spending time in a cryo-chamber to help his recovery, will be back to face Austria in their second match next week.

Poland were dumped out in the group stage three years ago, but were quarter-finalists in 2016 and reached the 2022 World Cup last 16.

Probierz expects his team to take the game to the Dutch.

"We respect the Netherlands, but we are not afraid of them," he said.

"We want to play a good match and prove that we have taken another step towards the development of this national team...

"We have to play football, not go out on the field and just survive, because otherwise we would have no chance."

Verona winger Karol Swiderski could be fit to play despite also suffering an injury against Turkey, after returning to team training on Friday.

Krzysztof Piatek may be in line to start up front in place of Lewandowski, with Juventus forward Arkadiusz Milik ruled out of the tournament with a knee injury.

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