Matthijs de Ligt is one of the best young defenders in the game, but the 21-year-old just made one of the biggest mistakes of his career. The Matthijs de Ligt red card was a critical turning point in the Czech Republic’s 2-0 win over the Netherlands in the Round of 16 of Euro 2020 on Sunday in Budapest.
The Dutch had a perfect group stage with three wins, and they looked like one of the favorites in the tournament, especially playing on what appears to be the easier side of the bracket. But the Czech Republic has quietly had a strong tournament too, and gave the Netherlands more than it could handle on Sunday.
Netherlands vs. Czech Republic Highlights
After a fairly even first half, the Dutch tried to take control in the second half. Donyell Malen burst through the Czech defense only to be denied by Sevilla keeper Tomáš Vaclík.
Matthijs de Ligt Red Card
On the ensuing Czech attack, the Netherlands rearguard was caught flatfooted. De Ligt was left one-one-one with Patrik Schick, stumbled and in a split second decided to stop the ball with his hands, which was initially deemed a yellow card.
Once the referee had a look at the replay thanks to a VAR intervention, it was clear De Ligt had to go and the Dutch were reduced to 10 men.
It was a terrifying position for De Ligt to be in, but (with the help of hindsight) he absolutely made the wrong decision with 40 minutes left in the match.
While the Czechs troubled the Netherlands before the Matthijs de Ligt red card, they ramped up the pressure with the man advantage.
They ultimately capitalized 13 minutes later after an unnecessary foul by Patrick van Aanholt in the corner. The resultant free kick was headed back across the goal by Tomáš Kalas to his fellow defender Tomáš Holeš to head into an empty net after Maarten Stekelenburg was caught way out of position by the initial ball.
The one goal was all the Czech Republic would need, but as the Dutch pushed forward for an equalizer, they left themselves exposed in the back, and Schick scored his fourth goal of the competition to put the game away in the 80th minute.
The Czechs expertly saw out the rest of the match, ruthlessly taking advantage of the red card. The Netherlands struggled to mount any sort of comeback and crashed out of the competition far earlier than its supporters had hoped.
The question now will be how the Matthijs de Ligt red card defines the young center back. Already a regular at Juventus, De Ligt has a bright future ahead of him, but this sort of nightmare red card can define a career for a player.
It should be noted, the Czech Republic was fully deserving of the win. Even before the red card, the Czechs were every bit as likely to score the opener as the Dutch, who lacked the attacking edge that saw them score eight goals in the group stage — in no small part because of the Czech defense. The Czech Republic next faces Denmark on July 3 in a quarterfinal matchup few would have predicted.
One last note: the Netherlands’ Georginio Wijnaldum wore a “One Love” captain’s armband to promote inclusivity and denounce discrimination, a clear commentary on what happened last week in Munich surrounding the Germany-Hungary match.
In today's match I’ll wear a #OneLove captains armband to emphasize that we stand for inclusiveness and connection.We are against any form of exclusion and discrimination. We hope to support everyone who feels discriminated against across the world
— Gini Wijnaldum (@GWijnaldum) June 27, 2021