Last March, the Netherlands came out on top of their group despite a 1-1 draw against Romania and Germany. A 6-1 victory over Hungary propelled Jong Oranje into the last eight and set up a meeting with France.
A star-studded French side lost their opener 1-0 to Denmark, but then recovered to reach the round of 16 with wins over Russia and Iceland (both 2-0).
On Monday, the Netherlands and France will meet in Budapest. The winner will face Denmark or Germany in the semi-finals on June 3.
Erwin van de Looi’s plans were thwarted by a number of players joining the full Netherlands squad. Ryan Gravenberch, Teun Koopmeiners, Cody Gakpo and Jurrien Timber are all heading to the European Championships.
Van de Looi also lost Noa Lang, Brian Brobbey, Deyovaisio Zeefuik and Ludavit Reis due to injuries and commitments with the club.
Ajax right-back Devyne Rensch could make his debut at this level, while Calvin Stengs, Justin Kluivert and Ligue 1 champion Sven Botman are expected to start.
Possible Pays-Bas U21 XI: Bijlow, Rensch, Bakker, Botman, Schuurs, Harroui, Matusiwa, De Wit, Stengs, Kluivert, Boadu
France were able to call on a number of top talents with Lyon star Houssem Aouar, Rennes star Eduardo Camavinga and new Liverpool signing Ibrahim Konate all in the squad.
The Netherlands will have to keep Celtic forward Odsonne Edouard silent with the 23-year-old who has scored 17 times in 13 games for the U21s.
Leicester City star Wesley Fofana and Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi are not part of the squad.
Possible France U21 XI: Meslier, Dagba, Maouassa, Upamecano, Konaté, Soumare, Aouar, Camavinga, Ikone, Gouiri, Edouard
Netherlands 9/4 Draw 21/10 France 11/10
Can the Netherlands reach the semi-finals?
France approach this game as big favorites, and the Netherlands’ chances have taken a hit with Van de Looi unable to call on some key players for the game.
France are strong at the back, in the midfield and at the top, which makes them a formidable opponent. However, the Netherlands also have a number of exciting talents capable of injuring the French team. If van de Looi has the right tactics and does not respect the French too much, there is no reason why Jong Oranje cannot progress.
Van de Looi may decide to start with a 5-3-2 formation with De Wit and Kluivert in the lead, but the coach will look to Calvin Stengs to fill the void left by Cody Gakpo’s absence.
This is a quarterfinal of a tournament so anything is possible, but it will be essential for the Netherlands to stay tight behind and look for their chances to block. If Jong Oranje manages to get through this game, the confidence to lift the trophy would be huge.
Click here to watch our exclusive pre-match interviews with Erwin van de Looi and Dani de Wit.