Vivianne Miedema’s absence felt as Netherlands edge past Portugal

LEIGH, England – With their fans leading up to the game, the Netherlands went into Wednesday’s clash as favorites in Group C. However, it was Portugal who stole the night despite the final result.

As the holders of the European Women’s Championship and reigning champions, one might have expected the Netherlands to perform on a par with England versus Norway – or even Germany versus Spain – but that was not to be found.

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The Dutch were missing their talisman, Vivianne Miedema, and it showed. Even with the Arsenal striker in the team, they struggled to pull together a closed attack in the first game against Sweden. After the game against Sweden, manager Mark Parsons admitted it was Miedema who had suggested a substitution at half-time to give them the upper hand.

“Yes, I just asked Viv for her thoughts and then moved on,” he said.

Her response was quick: “I’ll just do what Mark tells me.”

Miedema was even more absent against Portugal on Wednesday, a side that had few players in the professional leagues but showed why they deserved their place in the tournament. In the first 20 minutes – in which they had a ball in the net that was ruled out – A Seleccao dictated the game. Two quick, easy goals put the Parsons side 2-0 against the flow – a position that should have given them an easier win – but they took their foot off the pedal.

The Dutch might have ended up victorious 3-2, but the performance against Portugal – combined with the grueling 5-1 loss to England before the tournament – ​​raises the question of where this Dutch side stands?

Anyone who has watched Miedema over the last few years knows the important role she plays on the pitch in dictating the game, but this tournament showed just how important her voice is on the pitch. Whenever Sweden were in control, she was the one who held the team together to ensure they didn’t stop and that was lacking against Portugal. They probably only escaped due to a magic moment from Danielle van de Donk.

“I was very happy with that [the goal]. Especially for the team because we fought very hard. So I think it deserves it. I almost never score goals like that, so I’m very happy with that,” said Van de Donk after the game.

Most people didn’t think that this Dutch team would have to push against a team like Portugal. But it may speak to a star individualism on the team that Parsons needs to address.

“We’ll take the point and put Viv in the fridge and move on,” was Parson’s response to the draw with Sweden – also one of the tournament’s favourites.

But when they couldn’t count on Miedema, the Dutch struggled against a side they should have easily beaten. It leaves questions about how previous champions will handle the tougher competition in the final stages of the tournament. Vivianne Miedema’s absence felt as Netherlands edge past Portugal

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