EURO 2024 Report: Netherlands 0 - 0 France

Denzel Dumfries of the Netherlands crosses the ball whilst under pressure from Theo Hernandez of France during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Netherlands and France at Football Stadium Leipzig on June 21, 2024 in Leipzig

Denzel Dumfries of the Netherlands crosses the ball whilst under pressure from Theo Hernandez of France during the UEFA EURO 2024 group stage match between Netherlands and France at Football Stadium Leipzig on June 21, 2024 in Leipzig Credit: Photo by Alex Pantling - UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images

Macdara Ferris reports from Leipzig

It was a case of Hamlet without the prince as France played without their talismanic captain Kylian Mbappe against the Netherlands. With his broken nose, Didier Deschamps didn’t risk bringing the striker on from stage left even with his Phantom of the Opera style mask available for use.

And so 21 games into the tournament, the late Friday night fixture gave us the first scoreless draw of this European Championship. The point earned probably pleased both sides equally, even if they both wanted to secure all three to confirm a berth in the knock out stages. 

Both sides had won their opening game and it had to be said weren’t overly convincing. Ronald Koeman’s side had to come from behind to beat Poland 2-1 while an OG was the difference for the French over Austria. But this was no dour 0-0 draw.

The French had dominated recent matches between the sides with seven wins from the last eight coming into this tie but they couldn’t secure a victory on this occasion. No surprise the  French missed Mbappe who had scored nine goals in qualifying, including four against the Dutch.

However when Deschamps looked to change up his attacking option late on, he brought on the 37-year-old Olivier Giroud. No surprise that Ronald Koeman introduced Wout Weghorst although neither stiker could add to the late drama and claim a goal and a victory for their side.

For Irish football fans there were two familiar teams out on the Leipzig turf with the sides that qualified first and second from the Irish qualifying group. It wasn’t quite a case of here’s what you could have won for Ireland – like a Bullseye speedboat that could prove handy on the adjacent Elsterbecken waterway – as the Boys in Green under Stephen Kenny never got a glove on either side to be in the hunt to earn a place on the pitch at the Euros.

The arena roof was lit up in Red Bull red and it echoed the elevated atmosphere. Behind the goals there were the vocal blue fans facing off against the larger and louder orange clad army at the other end. While neither set of supporters got to cheer a goal it was certainly an absorbing contest between the Dutch who were Euro 88 winners here in Germany and France who were the last host nation to win a European Championship (back in 1984).

The Netherlands supporters had more to shout about in the first half and it was a case of ‘Simons said’ what the Dutch attacking approach would be with Xavi Simons lively throughout the game. He floated around the French half popping up to play the ball in on several occasions. He fed Jeremie Frimpong in, as he started in place of injured Joey Veerman, within the opening minute forcing Mike Maignan into an early save. Later in the half when the goal opened up for him, he didn’t hit the shot with enough venom to beat Bart Verbruggen.

Cody Gakpo was up against Jules Kounde and he was quick to cut in from the left and he stung Maignan’s hands in the 16th minute. 

Antoine Griezmann had the French captain’s armband in Mbappe’s enforced absence and really he should have been the player to put the French in the lead in the first half but he couldn’t convert any of the chances that came his way. 

Within four minutes of the start of this matchday two tie, the Brighton keeper Verbruggen had to push one over the bar from him. 

Ten minutes later Adrien Rabiot picked up Marcus Thuram’s backheel but his centre was just behind the Atletico Madrid player with Griezmann ending up sitting on the ball inside the six yard box as the Dutch scrambled it clear.

When the French got a late first half corner it was delayed as Griezmann had to deal with quite a lot of beer wastefully thrown his way. The striker was equally wasteful with a free header a minute later that Verbruggen gathered with ease.

Thuram took one on from distance but his low effort fizzed just wide of the left hand post on the hour mark as Didier Deschamps men began to step it up. Aurelien Tchouameni then flashed a header just over the bar before the break.

Maignan did enough to palm away the French captain’s tame close range effort and around the post after N'Golo Kanté laid on a golden chance for Griezmann. The chances kept coming for the French with Ousmane Dembele next to blast over the bar.

Despite all that pressure, the Dutch did have the ball in the net in the 69th minute as Simons rifled the ball home but the offside flag went up with Denzel Dumfries in the keeper's eye line. There was a lengthy VAR check but ultimately referee Anthony Taylor kept with the offside decision.

The subs brought some fresh legs as some flagged late on but even with some space opening up the deadlock could not be broken. The Dutch will play Austria next week in Berlin while France will face Poland who have now lost both their matches.

Both sides showed enough to say that they can go deep in this tournament especially the French who should be able to call upon his skipper soon enough.

Netherlands: Bart Verbruggen; Denzel Dumfries, Stefan de Vrij, Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Aké; Jerdy Schouten (Joey Veerman 73), Xavier Simons (Georginio Wijnaldum 73), Tijani Reijnders, Jeremie Frimpong (Lutsharel Geertruida 73), Memphis (Wout Weghorst 79), Cody Gakpo;
Subs not used: Justin Bijlow, Mark Flekken, Matthijs de Ligt, Micky van de Ven, Daley Blind, Ian Maatsen, Ryan Gravenberch, Donyell Malen, Brian Brobbey, Steven Bergwijn, Joshua Zirkzee.
Booked: Jerdy Schouten (32).

France: Mike Maignan; Jules Kounde, Dayot Upamecano; William Saliba, Theo Hernandez; Aurélien Tchouameni, N'Golo Kanté, Adrien Rabiot; Ousmane Dembele (Kingsley Coman 75), Marcus Thuram (Olivier Giroud 75), Antoine Griezmann;
Subs not used: Brice Samba, Alphonse Areola, Benjamin Pavard, Ferland Mendy, Ibrahima Konaté, Jonathan Clauss, Warren Zaïre-Emery, Eduardo Camavinga, Youssouf Fofana, Kylian Mbappe, Randal Kolo Muani, Bradley Barcola.Booked: None.
Sent off: None.

Referee: Anthony Taylor (England). Player of the Match: Xavi Simons (Netherlands)