Striker Depay should lead the Netherlands to success at EM

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Striker Depay should lead the Netherlands to success at EM

Depay has recently shown himself in great shape

Let Memphis Depay fix it. The Dutch national soccer team has waited a long time for a world-class striker. Depay raised hopes last season with 20 league goals for Olympique Lyon. The 27-year-old has scored seven times in the last seven games for “Oranje”. Before the start of the European Championship on Sunday (9 p.m. / live ORF 1) in Amsterdam against the Ukraine, all eyes are on him among Austria's group opponents.

“We missed the last two tournaments, now we're finally back,” said Depay, referring to the pan-European EM. The fact that the football-crazy Dutch look to him above all does not bother the former Manchester United attacker. “I don't put any pressure on myself. Every new task is a challenge, we have to tackle it as a team,” emphasized Depay. “I don't feel like I'm under any particular pressure.”

In the meantime, however, a certain dependency on Depay is also being discussed in the Netherlands. If the star striker doesn't score, it could be uncomfortable for the “Oranjes” even in the supposedly easy group with Ukraine, Austria and North Macedonia. In the mediocre preparation, Depay was the only one who really knew how to convince.

Depay scored both goals in the 2-2 draw against Scotland, and he was also there in the 3-0 dress rehearsal against Georgia. “Memphis is in a good mood,” said team boss Frank de Boer of his talisman, which is said to be about to move to FC Barcelona. Juventus Turin is also said to have expressed interest.

Depay has scored 26 goals in 64 international matches for the Netherlands. He was also in the last tournament participation so far, the 2014 World Cup – and already played no insignificant role as a 20-year-old. In four appearances at the tournament in Brazil, Depay scored twice and thus had his share in the surprising third place under the then coach Louis van Gaal.

“2014 and 2021 cannot be compared with each other. I have grown as a player and as a person,” said Depay, who was overshadowed by players like Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder seven years ago. The latter is a big fan of Depay. “It is tough to be the leader of Orange”, Sneijder told the newspaper “De Telegraaf”. The former playmaker also compares Depay to himself in his playing days. “I didn't feel any pressure, just like him just wanted to have fun,” explained Sneijder. “Memphis also exudes that the ball makes him happy.”

The striker now wants to convey this ease to his colleagues. For most of them – such as the key players Frenkie de Jong (FC Barcelona) or the recently ailing Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus Turin), it will be their first appearance at a major tournament. “We also have to enjoy being at the EM,” emphasized Depay. “I keep telling the guys that too.” Liverpool's Georginio Wijnaldum bears the captain's bow – but Depay is also something of a leader.

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