Push Notification
UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands

The defending European Champions, the Netherlands, will be looking to retain the trophy they worked so hard to win last time around. After losing out in the final of the Olympics to the USA, the Oranje will be fired up to not allow a repeat of the situation. A change in management means that Mark Parsons, a young English coach, will be looking to stand out on the big stage through the use of his tactics to guide a team full of stars to back-to-back European Championships. Holland are currently ranked fifth in the world and are the fourth-best team in Europe according to the most recent FIFA rankings; they will look to use that to help boost their self-belief to overcome any opposition. There is a feeling that this could be one of the last occasions wherein some of these legends get to represent their national teams, so they will want to finish off their careers on a high note. 

Placed in a group with Portugal, Switzerland and Sweden, it certainly won’t be easy for the Netherlands to win the group but they should be able to qualify as one of the top two. This analysis will explain why a team filled with Champions League winners, and domestic league winners will surely have the quality and ability to match these expectations and progress further in the competition. 

Predicted Starting XI

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

Mark Parsons will definitely opt for either a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 system. Whilst the shape of the midfield isn’t certain, most of the other positions of this experienced team will be. In goal, Sari van Veenendaal will certainly start every game. With 87 caps to her name, she is the captain of the side and has represented her country in the last 4 major tournaments. A great leader who already knows what it takes to lift this trophy, there is no reason to change something that has worked so great in recent history.

At right-back, Lynn Wilms is expected to take part in her first major tournament for her country.  She has recently broken into the first team at Wolfsburg and already has represented her country 18 times whilst still only being 21. You can expect her to be flying down the right flank, aiming to contribute to more goals for the team. Although there are other options like Casparij and Dijkstra for the role, they are both less experienced than Wilms and throwing them into the deep end may not be the best idea.

A centre-back pairing of Stefanie Van der Gragt and Aniek Nouwen is expected. Playing at Ajax and Chelsea respectively, both defenders have proven they have the quality to play at the highest levels in club football and have already partnered with each other on several occasions for the Oranje. Merel van Dongen will also be aiming to start, having already represented them 59 times, so don’t be surprised to see her replace Nouwen.

Dominique Janssen is expected to start at left-back. She’s played centre-back for club and country in the past, so the role of a left-back tucking in to form a back 3 will be perfect for her and the system.

At the base of the midfield 3, Jackie Groenen will be looking to get a spot at the base of the midfield. Sherida Spitse can also get this role but Parsons has been a fan of Groenen in the spell he has had there. Danielle van de Donk and Jill Roord will be looking to play in the two advanced midfield roles. They both have lots of creativity, ability to time runs into the box and will be perfect in the half-space. Spitse could easily come into any one of these midfield roles, especially seeing as she is the most capped player ever for the Leeuwinnen with 199 caps. Damaris Egurrola has just won the Champions League and with 2 goals in 2 caps, she will be looking to break out on the international stage.

There should be almost no debate about the front three, with Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens and Lineth Beerensteyn all being much more experienced, and having had stronger campaigns than the other young and fresh players coming along as backup. Renate Jansen will probably come off the bench, but she will not be starting ahead of their key player, Miedema. Shanice van de Sanden will have a right to be frustrated about not getting selected, having been a regular member of the squad beforehand, gaining 95 caps in the process.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

As seen in the graph above, 8 of the starting 11 will be in the peak of their careers at the time of this tournament. Added to that, a goalkeeper at the age of 32 — occupying a position where is it well known they often peak in later years, this squad is primed and ready to retain the trophy. This group of players have already won this trophy 5 years ago and reached the final of the World Cup to boot so there can be no doubts about their ability.

Attacking Phase

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

The arrival of a new manager in Mark Parsons has brought a new system of play to the Oranje. In the first phase of play, the Netherlands attempt to play out from the back with the goalkeeper. The two centre-backs split to either side of the keeper and always show for the ball. They keep a 4-1 shape in build-up with the other players further up the pitch waiting to receive the ball in pockets of space. The two wingers are positioned as high and wide as possible to stretch the opposition back line and pin the full-backs back, leaving more space for the Netherlands players in deeper areas. The lone dm is always available for a bounce pass to relieve a teammate of pressure. A common method of progression is for one of the two central defenders to play a line-breaking pass to a central midfielder who has run off of the shoulder of their marker into a pocket of space between the midfield and defensive lines. Receiving the ball on the back foot, they can then turn on the ball and drive at the back four with plenty of options on either side.

Holland’s backline has the ability, as well as the arrogance, to allow opposition players to close them down before playing through them. As can be seen in the image, the Netherlands are numerically underloaded in the highlighted area but they have the ability to dribble past the opposition and play the ball to an open player, partly thanks due to a poor press from the Belgian team. One action has taken out 5 players from the game and created an artificial transition, where there is a 3v4 leaving the Dutch players lots of space to attack the ball with.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

When the goalkeeper has the ball, she will often wait for attackers to close her down, to attract pressure which opens up gaps further up the pitch. Sari van Veenendaal has good distribution and she uses her ability to pick out a fullback. As shown in the image, the ball is flicked onto the left-winger, Martens, where there is a 3v2 allowing them to retain the ball. Danielle van de Donk then has lots of space to pick up the ball and drive with it towards the opposition goals whilst there are also 4 other runners giving an option and creating chaos. In this attack, the Netherlands had a 5v4 against Brazil, but due to a poor and selfish decision, the chance was wasted although the right-winger, Van de Sanden, was in acres of space.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

Vivianne Miedema also helps in build-up through the use of her physicality to hold the ball up if the goalkeeper needs to boot the ball long. The Netherlands rank in the 82nd percentile for long passes per 90, which is partly down to the long balls being played into Miedema, yet most are successful due to her superior ability in aerial duels, added with the quality distribution.

In settled attacks, Holland move into a 3-2-5 formation. Janssen will likely drop into a third centre-back role, a position she is very familiar with, while Lynn Wilms will move up the pitch, holding the width down the right side.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

This will give the Netherlands a great positional structure, allowing them to have good combinations down the flanks to provide service for Miedema. This side likes to play the ball around the final third, being patient and looking for an opening, which is clear by their ranking in the 82nd percentile for final third passes per 100 passes. This means that most of the passes that they make are in and around the opposition box rather than playing about with the ball in slightly deeper areas.

The Netherlands are brilliant at creating multiple goalscoring chances for Miedema, which is highlighted by her six-goal performance against Cyprus in the last international break. When the ball is in wide areas, Miedema is brilliant at showing for the ball and receiving it on the turn, rolling the opposition defender without letting them get a sight of the ball. The two 8’s, Roord and van de Donk, will be roaming into the half-spaces and offering combinations with the wingers and fullbacks to attempt to feed the ball into Miedema.

In the 3-2-5 system, quick switches of play allow a winger to be isolated in a 1v1 position high up the pitch. Martens and Beerensteyn are both excellent at taking on the defender through their changes of pace, bursts of speed and close dribbling ability. However, they can be slightly predictable with both preferring to go on their stronger foot, which for both is to go on the outside and cross the ball in rather than cutting inside. While at times predictable, this approach can be effective, as Miedema is strong in aerial duels and lots of crosses lead to her getting lots of headed chances on goal.

Another area in which the Netherlands can be devastating is set pieces. They have a good number of tall options to target in the box, which can cause chaos for the opposition. We have seen several short and long corner routines in their recent games, which have been innovative and hard to predict. Furthermore, the Dutch players can win headers and offer opportunities to win the second ball from long free-kick and corner situations. You can expect the Netherlands to create plenty of chances from set-piece situations as well as from open play.

Defensive Phase

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

Mark Parsons has also made the Netherlands a far braver team out of possession. As shown in the stats graphic above, the Netherlands rank in the 94th percentile for the number of recoveries per match. This means that they win the ball back far more often than most other teams due to a better pressing structure and a higher running rate than before.

The Leeuwinnen don’t press high often, only really doing so in dead ball situations such as goal kicks or throw-ins, where the players have more time to step up and get tight to the player they should be marking. In these situations, they will go for a man-to-man approach, attempting to win the ball back in a dangerous situation that could lead to a goal-scoring situation as seen pictured below. The throw-in taker didn’t have many options and the ball is cleared into the back of a Dutch player.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

Parsons has implemented a 4-4-2 mid-block in contrast to the 4-1-4-1 they had been using previously. This is done through one of the 8’s moving up in line with Miedema when they are out of possession. The change in formation means that the middle of the pitch is slightly more exposed should the opposition infiltrate this area. However, the two front players make it difficult for the opponents to pass the ball into the middle of the pitch and have to find ways around the block. The pivot of the opposition is always covered by one of the front two players, whilst the other presses the ball. This ensures that the opposition are forced to turn to either flank of the pitch, where the number of passing options is always lesser than if you had the ball in the middle of the pitch. To make up for the reduced player in the midfield line, Parsons has done well to increase the vertical compactness of the lines, meaning that the players in the holes between the lines won’t have much time to receive the ball before being pressured by a defending player. This has led to them winning the ball back in higher areas than before and reducing the number of chances the opposition get per game, although when they do break through, those chances are generally more clear-cut than before.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

A flaw that the Netherlands do have, is that as a result of a more attacking team, the defensive positioning and discipline are reduced. As seen in the next picture, those attacking-minded midfielders are sometimes not aggressive or proactive enough, which gives the opposition lots of time to pick out the perfect pass into a dangerous area. They can be caught too far up the pitch, trying to make an impact offensively and not respecting that there aren’t enough players back to deal with potential counter-attacking opportunities.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

The Netherlands are also very comfortable dealing with long balls, which could be coming in due to pressure from the front line. They rank in the 82nd percentile for aerial duels per match and in the 76th percentile for aerials duels won %. However, the Dutch players are vulnerable in 1v1 situations where they only lie in the 47th percentile for defensive duels won %. This means that they are weaker than most teams in defending and making tackles when the ball is on the floor. This will be an area other teams target and one in which the Netherlands must improve if they are to retain their trophy.


The Netherlands will be arguably one of the most dangerous teams in transitional situations thanks to the duo of Martens and Beerensteyn who are both incredibly quick, carry the ball over long distances and have the perfect teammate waiting to receive the ball and finish it off.

This team opts for a very direct approach in attacking transitions. They will usually attempt a long ball into the channel from a central defender in behind for one of the wingers to chase. If the distance is too large, Miedema will drop off and try to receive the ball to feet before playing a through ball in the channel. This is a very effective method of creating chances for them, due to the lightning pace they possess which allows them to easily carry the ball into dangerous situations outside the box. However, these wide players like Beerensteyn sometimes lack the decision-making or end product to correctly finish off these fluid moves.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

In defensive transitions, Parsons has asked his players to counter-press the opposition, thus not allowing them to attack an unorganised and outnumbered defence that they expose themselves with during settled attacks. As shown in the image, the players surrounding the ball when possession is lost, quickly move to prevent the opponent from progressing the ball forwards. When they force the player to turn back to their own goal, it gives the other teammates time to recover back into their own position for them to get back into their own solid mid-block shape.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

Yet again, perhaps due to the coach being quite new to the role, the Netherlands defenders are too slow and not aggressive enough to step into the opposition players before they receive the ball. In this image, the defender sprints at the ball only when the ball has already arrived at the French forward’s feet, meaning she has time to control the ball and turn, allowing her to easily dribble past the defender who has rushed out too late. Although that example did not prove costly, the Dutch defenders can’t afford to be so slow as it will continually leave the goalkeeper exposed to 1v1 situations in the long term.

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis


Lynn Wilms has enjoyed a breakout season at Wolfsburg from the right-back position, producing exceptional performances when she was trusted in big games against Europe’s elites in the Champions League. Aniek Nouwen will have great confidence after helping Chelsea win the Super League and the FA Cup while Dominique Janssen will look to carry on her form with Wolfsburg and carry on the full-back pairing with Wilms. Merel van Dongen is an experienced and important player in the squad, making 59 appearances for the Oranje in 7 years. She will be battling to retain her place ahead of Nouwen after having a less successful season, whilst Stefanie van der Gragt has always been preferred by head coach Mark Parsons. Van Dongen will be an excellent back up option for both the centre back position and also at left back, where she would work well when inverting to a back 3 in possession.

The youthful trio of Kerstin Casparij, Caitlin Dijkstra and Marisa Olislagers have all enjoyed a successful season with Twente, where they won the women’s Eredivisie. All three were key players, having between 22-24 appearances each in the campaign and while Dijkstra will be available to cover anywhere across the back four, Casparij and Olislagers will be cover for the full back positions. If they want to break into the starting XI, they will have to prove their ability at a higher level as Twente didn’t make it far in Europe, and the teams will be more difficult at the Euro’s than what these players would face in the Eredivisie Women.


The midfield trio that Holland possess is arguably one of the strongest in the tournament, with Spitse being an ever-present in the side in the past. She missed the Olympics with an injury which could arguably be one of the reasons they could not beat the USA in the final. Danielle van de Donk hasn’t had a great deal of game time at Lyon since joining but the record with her national team will give Parsons enough reason to keep her in the team. Jill Roord has had a fairly quiet season for Wolfsburg in the European scene in terms of trophies, but she still managed to average a goal every 2 games in the Champions League this season and scored 10 goals in 20 starts in the Bundesliga. Jackie Groenen has had a solid season with Manchester United, starting half of the games in the season in a holding role. There will be a rivalry for the deeper spot with Spitse.

Victoria Pelova has enjoyed a good individual season at Ajax with 6 goals and 9 assists across the season but, yet again, she will need to prove her ability at a higher level if she is to take a starting spot from Roord or van de Donk. Damaris Egurrola is breaking through into the Lyon team, appearing in 14 of the 22 matches Lyon had been a part of. Egurrola has a bright future but she will be slowly eased into the national team, so it is unlikely that she starts many matches in the tournament.


The front line of the Netherlands is certainly a strong point. Miedema finished her season with Arsenal with 19 goals in 30 games, while she already has 7 goals in 4 games for the national team. Lieke Martens has just won the Primera División once again with Barcelona and scored 23 times in 32 games. She has averaged a goal contribution every 44 minutes in the league and this kind of form will help guide the Oranje to another final. Lineth Beerensteyn has just come second in the Frauen-Bundesliga with Bayern Munich and only managed 2 goals in the league. She will need to improve her performances or she will likely be dropped from the starting line ups. This front three have all been exposed to varying levels of success and this should only continue at international level.

Romee Leuchter enjoyed a great season at Ajax with 25 goals in 23 starts, but it is unlucky for her that she is competing for a spot with Miedema who is performing exceptionally at the highest levels. Renate Jansen managed 29 goal contributions in 22 starts for Twente whilst winning the league and she will definitely be in Parsons’ mind as to whether she should replace Beerensteyn. Esmee Brugts is only 18, and while she has regularly played for PSV, the step up from a poorer division to international football in such a short space of time will mean that her minutes will be appropriately managed.

Best Performer

UEFA Women's EURO 2022 Tactical Preview: Netherlands - tactical analysis

One player that everyone watching the Euros will need to keep an eye on, is Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema. As the top goal scorer in the history of the Women’s Super League and the top scorer of the Dutch national team, there is no debate about the wonderful finishing quality that Miedema possesses. This small scout report will demonstrate why Miedema will be key to Netherlands’ hopes of retaining the trophy.

These metrics above, breaking down her domestic performances for the last calendar year and comparing her statistics in each noted area with the league median, show that she is a complete forward, not just one who only waits around in the box for chances to appear. As well as being a clinical finisher, Miedema can create chances through her great dribbling and passing abilities, which are highlighted in the stats above. She is a strong, quick athletic player who is also quite tall compared to other strikers. She has the physical prowess to fight for and win aerial duels, hold the ball up and roll her defender. That is also coupled with a great ability to control the ball both with her chest and feet, where she can take the ball down into her stride and finish the ball in one fluid motion.

Miedema also can strike the ball from range, scoring a few goals for the national team by driving it into the corner from range. Adding to that is intelligent movement and positioning in the box to find space in great areas whilst also losing her marker. In addition to her great on-the-ball quality, Miedema also works hard for the team, often leading the press and also coming back to defend set-pieces with her aerial ability.

Vivianne Miedema will almost certainly be in the race for the golden boot, and she is one name that every team will fear coming up against.

Tournament Prediction

The Netherlands will have to be on top of their game from the first day when they face Sweden. A slip-up against Sweden could leave them in second place and this could lead to a possible quarter-final match against France who are also one of the favourites. Nevertheless, the Dutch national team definitely has the individual quality to beat any team on their day, although their style of play in going long to find Miedema at times, could fall apart if a quality player like Wendie Renard marks her tight and doesn’t allow her to turn with the ball.

However, a team full of players at the peak of their careers is one that is definitely set up to reach the final, and given the points of this tactical analysis, they should be playing to win the European Championship on the final day.