Ryan Gravenberch looks set to be handed his first start of Euro 2020 when the Netherlands take on North Macedonia on Monday.
The highly-rated youngster enjoyed a breakout 2020/2021 season at Ajax, making 32 Eredivisie appearances and registering three goals along with five assists from central midfield. The 19-year-old’s impressive form saw him called up to the senior Dutch side in March and he kept his place long enough to make the Euro 2020 squad.
However, he has barely featured in Netherlands opening two games of the tournament, remaining on the bench during their 3-2 win over Ukraine before making a 16-minute cameo in a 2-0 win over Austria.
With the Netherlands’ progression to the round of 16 assured, Gravenberch’s wait for a start is set to end against North Macedonia. As reported by NOS Sport, an eagle-eyed cameraperson managed to capture a piece of paper being held by assistant coach Dwight Lodeweges.
The note suggests that both Gravenberch and Donyell Malen – who grabbed an assist after coming off the bench against Austria – will be drafted into the starting XI for Monday’s game.
The report is correborated by an interview Frank de Boer gave in which he said: “I will apply two substitutions. You can brainstorm about that. I will say no more.
“After the game against North Macedonia, we have five days to prepare for that eighth final. If the preparation time had been shorter, I might have made different choices.”
If Gravenberch puts in a good performance he could earn a place in the starting XI for the round of 16. The Netherlands will be playing the third-placed finisher in Group D, E or F, depending on how the teams rank at the end of the group stages.
While they should get a straightforward draw, a worst-case scenario would seem them face one of Germany, France or Portugal.