Depay defends Bergwijn, but knows Van Gaal decides
Memphis Depay has a preference. He prefers to form an attacking duo with Steven Bergwijn for the Dutch national team, with Cody Gakpo close behind. If Louis van Gaal joins him, Davy Klaassen will be on the bench on Saturday at the start of the round of 16 against the United States at the World Cup.
Depay is Orange’s most important striker, with ten hits in the qualifying tournament for the final round in Qatar. Bergwijn has scored six times in nine international appearances for the World Cup. But after a blistering start at Ajax, he is looking for his form and remained on the bench against Qatar, after a mediocre game against Senegal and Ecuador.
Van Gaal thinks he needs Depay to achieve his dreams. He hopes for a scenario like that of the 1988 European Championship or the 2010 World Cup, where Marco van Basten and Arjen Robben arrived injured but still excelled. Depay has recovered from a hamstring injury but is still anything but fully fit.
Depay carefully brought
Van Gaal also trained shortly before the knockout stage of the tournament in all three group matches with Senegal, Ecuador and Qatar. He was careful with Depay and gave him more and more minutes. Marten de Roon also had time to recover from injury. Just like Depay, he featured for the first time against Qatar at kick-off.
With De Roon in the squad, Orange’s midfield was better balanced. He can also eliminate the opposing number 10, as Belgian star Kevin De Bruyne recently noticed in the Nations League. De Roon isn’t Orange’s biggest talent, but he relieves playmaker Frenkie de Jong of defensive work.
Depay and De Jong are the players who need to make the difference, after a tough group stage in which the national team created few chances but also barely let any opportunities slip by. The Netherlands play football a bit like in the first matches of the 2010 World Cup, not fun to watch but effective. After the 1998 World Cup, Orange have rarely been the dominant team that many Dutch people want to see.
After difficult duels with Denmark (2-0), Japan (1-0) and Cameroon (2-1), the orange team escaped against Slovakia (2-1) in the round of 16 of the World Cup in South Africa before facing Slovakia in the quarter-finals, Brazil fell behind (2-1). Now, Argentina can become the opponent in the quarter-finals, if the United States are defeated.
Looks like Van Gaal has almost found his base squad for the World Cup. But what is he doing in front? Will he grant Depay’s wish and choose Bergwijn, with Gakpo behind him? But Klaassen has been involved in three of Orange’s five goals at this World Cup. And Berghuis continues to apply for a basic place during the training sessions.
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