Netherlands enjoyed a much-improved performance against hosts Qatar to secure a 2-0 win, top spot in Group A and a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup’s round of 16. Oranje showed a sharp improvement in their control of the match in comparison to performances against Senegal and Ecuador with some criticising the squad and Louis van Gaal’s approach.
But goals from Cody Gakpo, again, and Frenkie de Jong helped ease any pessimism some may have had of this Netherlands side and now find themselves in a much better position form-wise going into the knockout stages of the competition.
Heads will be turned to the action in Group B where they will find out who they will face in the next round with Oranje facing the runners-up in the group while Senegal – who qualify after beating Ecuador in dramatic fashion – will face the winners. As things stand, England are top and face Wales while USA will be looking to get ahead of Iran to have any chance of progressing in the tournament.
1. Memphis Depay looks hungry after his hamstring injury
The main talking point before the match was Depay starting having made two appearances from the bench against Senegal and Ecuador. It seemed a huge risk from Van Gaal to play the Barcelona forward having picked up a hamstring injury against Poland back in September which prevented him playing a single minute of football until the World Cup started. He certainly did not seem to play a cautious game though and was hungry to use his pace to get into attacking positions. The former Manchester United player was unlucky not to score in this match either.
2. Defence and pressing game has improved greatly
Granted they were playing against an inferior opposition in their final group game and Qatar have already bowed out of the competition before kick-off but Oranje certainly showed a sharp improvement in their overall game. Netherlands were not impressive in their first two group stage matches despite picking up four points in them with pundits criticising the setup in midfield and their pressing attempts lacking any form of organisation. This was far from the case in this match with Qatar pressed heavily and effectively in the midfield and did not have an answer when going forward either. It is a positive improvement going into the round of 16.
3. Still no answer to stop Cody Gakpo
Once again, we are talking about the talent from PSV Eindhoven in Gakpo. He picked up his third goal of the competition and is now tipped as a contender for the Golden Boot. His goalscoring form in the Eredivisie – which he is the league’s top scorer so far – has translated brilliantly and certainly has helped spare a few blushes for Oranje in other matches. He will be the main threat with whoever they face in the round of 16 but in terms of how he can be stopped neither Senegal, Ecuador or Qatar had an answer.
GBeNeFN | Tom Phillips