A rollercoaster ride of a match concluded with Oranje sadly bowing out of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar on penalties against Argentina for the second time in their history. The ending of 2014 came back to haunt the Netherlands despite fighting back from a 2-0 deficit thanks to a brace from Wout Weghorst.
The match had everything with the drama, intensity and emotion amounting to a lot on show for the neutral fan out there. Moments of brilliance, career-defining moments and late drama fuelled an already intense affair which include three mass confrontations as tempers flared from the very start of the match.
There is still plenty left to talk about during the World Cup but for Oranje, they will have to wait another four years before they can attempt to become world champions for the first time – perhaps under Ronald Koeman who takes over from Louis Van Gaal in January.
1. Louis van Gaal’s plan book was put to the test
Depay and Gakpo not getting the service? Change the direction of play. Dumfries getting frustrated on the wings? Focus the play down the middle. Still no goals? Bring on Luuk de Jong and Wout Weghorst. It really did seem that Van Gaal had more game plans than there were letters in the alphabet with changes in formation, approach and style of play all within 90 minutes. It paid off to some extent but was not enough for the 71-year-old to maintain the dream of Netherlands becoming world champions.
2. Long ball is effective against Argentina
For something that worked absolute wonders in the last 15 minutes of normal time, it was quite surprising to see Oranje revert back to the tactics that were not working and allowed Argentina to take the lead in the match. As a result, the momentum went from the Netherlands to Argentina once again in extra-time who could have easily have won it given the number of chances they had. Weghorst is a fantastic aerial threat and Argentina could not handle him – there was no need to change that after 90 minutes.
3. Argentina have discipline issues
The build-up to this match was intense. Memories of 2014 coming back, old grudges between Angel Di Maria and Van Gaal returning and just the intensity of the match saw more than 10 yellow cards being shown by the referee – with most of them going towards the now semi-finalists. If Croatia were watching this, it may well be the semi-final could be won through a mentality battle rather than what happens on the pitch. Plenty can be said of Argentina’s antics.