Frank de Boer ponders back four as Netherlands seek defensive balance

An opening victory over Ukraine has not dispelled doubts about the 3-5-2 formation the manager has recently adopted

To 3-5-2 or 4-3-3: this is the question that continues to swirl around the Netherlands team after Sunday’s helter-skelter 3-2 win against Ukraine. Frank de Boer switched from the latter configuration synonymous with the Ajax/Dutch school weeks before shaky defending in the Group C opener at the Johan Cruyff Arena showed how his players are grappling with the system.

Stefan de Vrij was in the middle of a rearguard that allowed a 2-0 second-half lead slip to 2-2 in four minutes and which appeared calm only when the ball was hogged in attack far from Maarten Stekelenburg’s goal.

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