Netherlands manager Mark Parsons is determined to leave a mark on the pitch at Euro 2022 to match the impact of the Dutch fans who have turned stadiums in England orange.
Thousands of supporters have helped break the record attendance for a group-stage game at a women’s Euros not involving the host nation twice during the tournament.
A crowd of 22,596 watched the holders beat Switzerland 4-1 on Sunday, but they needed a flurry of late goals to guarantee their place in the knockout stages.
Parsons has had to cope with the loss of captain Sari van Veenendaal and former UEFA women’s player of the year Lieke Martens for the rest of the tournament and has had to juggle after Vivianne Miedema and Jackie Groenen tested positive for coronavirus.
Miedema returned to training on Wednesday and the Arsenal striker, rated by many as the best player in the women’s game, could play a pivotal role in Saturday’s quarter-final showdown against France.
Les Bleues have been one of the standout sides of the tournament so far in England.
France scored five goals in the first half of their opening 5-1 win against Italy before securing top spot in Group D with a 2-1 victory over Belgium.
However, their 16-game winning run was ended by Iceland’s late equaliser in a 1-1 draw to conclude the group stages on Monday.
Parsons was in attendance for that game in Manchester and believes he saw enough to suggest the Dutch will cause Corinne Diacre’s side problems.
“Everyone has decided France will win this game and we’re there to help sell some tickets,” Parsons told reporters on Wednesday.
“It’s an interesting situation for France because this is the first time they have drawn after winning 16. That will be interesting (how they react).”
Miedema in training
Miedema missed the Netherlands’ victories over Portugal and the Swiss after winning player of the match in a 1-1 draw against Sweden to open their campaign.
The all-time top goalscorer in the history of the men’s or women’s Dutch national teams hopes she can win her fitness in time for Saturday’s clash in Rotherham.
“There are three important steps — today was just one,” said Parsons.
“Once we’ve gone through training today, tomorrow and Friday we will be able to make a decision on whether she can play.”
France beat the Netherlands 3-1 when the sides met in the Tournoi de France in February.
But Parsons hopes that France’s attacking nature could play into his side’s hands should Miedema be fit to lead the line.
“France are a top team, top players, very consistent in how they play,” he said. “We played them in February and scouted them because of a potential quarter-final.
“They have lot of pace and power. They are dynamic not just athletically but they are dynamic in the way they play. They have good communication on when to run.
“There are good threats there, but there is also space there. You saw it when they played Belgium and Iceland.”
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