Ronald Koeman after loss to France: “I don’t want to make excuses for this poor performance.”

The Netherlands’ manager Ronald Koeman appeared fairely downbeat after his side was comprehensively dominated by France on Friday, for the opening round of the Euro 2024 qualifiers. Early goals from Antoine Griezmann and Dayot Upamecano helped France pull clear before Kylian Mbappé stepped up with a classy brace. “We had no chance. Eight minutes on the clock and we’re already 2-0 down,” said the former Barcelona head coach in his press conference that AFP attended. “Against such a team, you have to be very good.

Koeman also pointed to the fact he was without some of his best players because of a viral infection that swept through the squad.We showed very little in this game. I did not expect such a gap. It’s not the team I had in mind to line up, but you know the circumstances.” Nevertheless, Koeman assessed that the Dutch were far from their best on Friday and, against a team as ruthless as France, there was just no hope to salvage a result. “I don’t want to make excuses for this poor performance. We should have been much more aggressive and should have made fewer mistakes. There was nothing very positive. We showed major shortcomings in all areas of the game.”

Koeman also lamented the freedom that his defensive players had allowed to Kylian Mbappé (24). The France skipper was the star of the show with an assist for Antoine Griezmann’s opener and a brace. “What hurts is that the first and fourth goals came from defensive errors”, assessed Koeman. “And, of course, it’s also down to the quality of Mbappé. We had identified that we had to be very careful about these plays, and we did not pay enough attention.”

Koeman ended his press conference by heaping praise on the Didier Deschamps-led side. “France are a very strong team. They are complete, very physical, fast, especially in attack, and possess world-class players in all sectors. And we are not there yet.” The Netherlands should have it easier on Monday when they host Gibraltar.

GFFN | Bastien Cheval

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