“Is this Dutch football now?” a reporter asked international soccer to Van Gaal, after the poor performance from a footballing point of view, in the second round of the World Cup. Is it now? “Today yes,” replied Van Gaal. “When you take the Nations League and qualifying round games, you know things can be done differently.” He just wanted to say: with this style of play on paper quite defensive, mounted after the qualifying series, Orange can also show good football and even attack more.
Van Gaal, however, was also slightly affected by play and attitude. “Ecuador was much fiercer, they were fighters. If you want to become world champion, you have to be able to do it,” he said on television shortly after. As a national coach, he has never had to complain about “fighting “. He was always proud of that. What now? Yes, the Dutch did their best, but Ecuador tried harder, especially in the duels.
But it is above all football that is missing. Van Gaal changed the system of play after the successful qualifying series from 1-4-3-3 (he still wants to name the goalkeeper) to 1-5-3-2, although he prefers the call 1-3-4-3, as an attacker variation. But there were no attacks. Whatever the system, football on average was nothing like that. The Netherlands were constantly overtaken, had only one chance, immediately a goal. The defenders hardly took any initiative, the attack, along with anyone else, was completely absent from the game.
Van Gaal: “We didn’t play well. Yes when the opponent has possession of the ball, but not when we have possession of the ball. And that was also our problem against Senegal. All the second balls, all the duels were for Ecuador. Then you can’t win. We lost the ball too quickly. Ecuador could have won, although they didn’t have many chances either. Yes, they shot them on the crossbar. And we give purpose. I’m happy with the 1-1, but not with the match.’
Van Gaal thinks it can still go well for Orange: “If we want to become world champions, this game in possession has to get much better. This is what we are working on. We will work on that. Whether we will achieve that in this tournament, I cannot guarantee. But I think so.
Van Gaal, as always, protected his players. Other questions focused on the lack of leadership on the ground. “When so many people play the ball in the wrong color, it’s not easy. The balance is lost for a while, but it can be restored in no time. The great thing is that we still managed to score a point, against what I think was a good team. He protected badly replaced Memphis Depay: “He couldn’t show his qualities, because there was hardly any ball , and when a ball arrived, it was in a difficult situation.”
Midfielder Frenkie de Jong, chosen as man of the match: “We weren’t good in possession. We are still walking. The space was in midfield. We didn’t play well enough. We showed before the World Cup that we could do it. We will analyze this. I’m sure it will get better.
For now, Orange, with 4 points in 2 matches, must first score a point on Tuesday against the already eliminated host country, Qatar. Senegal (3 points) and Ecuador (4) face each other. Numbers 1 and 2 will meet numbers 1 and 2 of Group B, the group of England, Iran, Wales and the United States, in the Round of 16 next weekend.
National coach Gustavo Alfaro of Ecuador, meanwhile, was particularly proud. His team had looked up to the traditional superpower Netherlands, but once his team came out of its shell, the team was full of fighting spirit, even though it failed to win. Our physical qualities are excellent. We had the strength to win duels, to fight. We were just unlucky. We keep running until the Netherlands come out of the field. I like that attitude, regardless of the outcome. It’s about writing a beautiful page in a boy’s book. We were doing.’
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