Stijn Sleeuwenhoek: The Algarve Cup as gamechanger for the Dutch women’s team?

A few days ago, Stijn Sleeuwenhoek reached out to me. He had written a blog about the effectΒ  the successful Algarve Cup could have on the Dutch women’s national team, in which I was surprised to read that he even referenced a Tweet I had sent out into the world a little while earlier. With his permission, I’m happy to share his story with you guys today. Enjoy the read! πŸ™‚

A ‘gamechanger’, is that a deciding move in a political campaign? Or is it literally ‘changing the game’, like FC Barcelona did with the 6-1 victory over Paris St.-Germain in the Champions League? I don’t know, but what I do know is that the Dutch women’s national team, the Orange Lionesses, have expierenced their mental gamechanger during the Algarve Cup a few weeks ago.

Soccer vlogger Emma Coolen tweeted the following about it on the 6th of March. ‘Okay, so the US beat Germany and Sweden beat the US and Holland beat Sweden. Basically Holland is the best team in the world now.’ An extremely optimistic tweet, and maybe a bit of a quick conclusion, around 118 days before ‘our’ European Championship. But still, this positive thought contained an exciting truth. Not to say that the Dutch team is currently leading the FIFA World Ranking, but still…

During that Algarve Cup, the first part of the preparation for hosting the Euros this summer, the squad managed to pull off some impressive wins. Results that won’t just impress people around the world, but that can perhaps be the first step that help the women to their best performance in the short history of the national team.

Confrontational

In all honesty, the games were confrontational from time to time. We saw that ‘we’ definitely do not have Europe’s strongest defence. The right balance in the midfield has yet to be found. But the women fought like a team, and our attacking line is one many teams can only dream of. Attackers that can be seen as the very best on the continent. Shanice van de Sanden’s speed, Lieke Martens’ refined technique and the incredible torinstinct Vivianne Miedema possesses are three incredibly strong weapons that can help the team surprise themselves and the rest of Europe this coming summer.

The first big step on the road to the Euros kept on lacking. That ultimate will to win, and with that the confidence in your own ability, was missing every time it mattered. But all that changed after the wins against top ranked countries like China, Japan and Sweden. The Orange Lionesses experienced their mental gamechanger during the last edition of the Algarve Cup. Now it’s important to keep that faith until the late summer. If they can do that, who knows… Emma Coolen might have to retweet her own tweet after a win in the final on August 6th!

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