Koeman shoulders responsibility for Netherlands defeat against Austria

By Sports Desk June 25, 2024

Ronald Koeman said he will take responsibility for the Netherlands' defeat to Austria as pressure continues to mount on the Oranje head coach.

The Netherlands twice came from behind in Berlin thanks to goals from Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo and looked set to finish as runners-up in Group D. 

However, Marcel Sabitzer's late strike secured Ralf Rangnick's side top spot, as Koeman's team finished in third following France's 1-1 draw with Poland as a potential meeting with England in the last-16 beckons. 

"I am ultimately responsible. I put this team together because I thought it was the best. But that wasn't the case," said Koeman.

"I'm also disappointed in myself that we're starting (games) like this. I thought the beginning was a poor performance, but not the entire match.

"We knew that they play with high backs, so we indicated: close that passing line. Then the back zone must hold. But if one or the other doesn't happen, this is what you get.

"During the match I also tried to say that central defenders should pick up the emerging backs. The communication was also one of the bad things, especially at the beginning of the match."

The Netherlands lost their first group stage game at the Euros since 2012 against Portugal (2-1), and captain Virgil Van Dijk insists that something has to change quickly heading into the knockout rounds. 

"We started the match weakly, in possession of the ball and in our duels. Then you are behind the game. We lacked energy.

"We talked about it at halftime. This is incomprehensible, at a finals tournament. I have no explanation for this at the moment. We all have to do a lot more for this is bad.

"If we want to achieve something at this European Championship, something has to change very quickly. We are all responsible for this."

For Austria, they have now reached the knockout stages in their last two appearances at the European Championships, having failed to do so in their previous two editions of the competition (2008 and 2016).

Sabitzer, who became the first Austrian to play 10 matches at the European Championships, knows his side must now calm down ahead of the knockout rounds. 

"If you beat the Netherlands and win the group, then you can't be that bad," Sabitzer said. "For us, the most important thing was to advance, and we managed that. Now we need to calm down, clear our heads and then keep attacking.

"In football, things often happen quickly, you have ups and downs. I think that's normal. The question is how you deal with it.

"I've worked very well in the last few days, the team supports me very well. When you win like that, win the group, score the winning goal, it doesn't get any better than that.

"I give everything for the team, always want to help with assists and goals, and if that happens as a side effect, it's very nice.

"You can see that we rotate through the team and nothing is missed, everyone knows their position and what they have to do."

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