Soccer

Ronald Koeman says Netherlands among title contenders ahead of Euro 2024 opener

The Dutch boss won the tournament as a player in 1988.

Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman is confident his team can win Euro 2024
Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman is confident his team can win Euro 2024 (Joris Verwijst/PA)

Ronald Koeman will send the Netherlands into their opening Euro 2024 battle with Poland confident they will be in the mix for the title.

Koeman, a European Championship winner as a player in 1988, believes this year’s tournament is wide open, but that his team is one of the contenders.

He told a press conference: “In my opinion, there is not a big favourite, maybe the French team a little bit more than the rest because they have a lot of experience, they have won already big tournaments.

“But I think it will be an open fight between different nations – and one of them is Holland.”

Skipper Virgil van Dijk was equally bullish as he prepared to lead his side into Sunday’s Group D clash at the Volksparkstadion in Hamburg.

Van Dijk said: “There are obviously very good teams around, obviously France, Germany, Portugal, England. But I think at a tournament, it can be totally different.

“Hopefully we can be at our best and be up there. That’s the aim and that’s what we’re going to fight for.”

Poland star Robert Lewandowski will miss the Euro 2024 opener against the Netherlands through injury
Poland star Robert Lewandowski will miss the Euro 2024 opener against the Netherlands through injury (Nick Potts/PA)

The Dutch will be without playmaker Frenkie de Jong because of an ankle injury, but his Barcelona team-mate Robert Lewandowski will also be missing for Poland.

The 35-year-old striker holds Poland’s all-time records for both caps and goals and his absence will be a significant blow to head coach Michal Probierz and his side.

However, skipper Piotr Zielinski told a press conference: “It is huge loss for us as we all know how important Robert is for our team. But it does not change our approach. We still want to win.”