After what can only be seen as the most electrifying transfer window ( Messi, Lukaku, C Ronaldo, Dumfries, Koopmeiners, Berghuis, Memphis, Luuk de Jong), the Dutch NT will commence their qualification journey for the World Cup 2022.
Louis van Gaal has only 1,5 days to prep the crucial match versus Norway, away, and had a pleasant training session with the squad (see video below). The only player missing from the group training was Memphis, who did an individual training inside. Van Gaal is convinced he will be ready for Norway.
Van Gaal was keeping the cards to his chest, not yet ready to share who will be the first goalie and what approach he will be taking for the Norway game. He did disclose the skipper (Virgil) and the two vice-captains (Wijnaldum and Daley Blind).
Van Gaal explained on the presser that he is grateful for the openness of the players in what they want, how they prefer to play and what their ambitions are. As he doesn’t have a lot of time, he needs to use what the players think, feel and want and he was pleased to see that the Dutch players have an opinion and a vision.
Van Gaal also emphasized that for him, the individual quality is always secondary to the team quality. Which is why he believes Norway is a dangerous opponent.
Asked about how to stop Haaland: “We need to stop and block the pass to Haaland. We also have pretty decent defenders, by the way, but making sure Haaland doesn’t get good service is key.”
Captain Virgil van Dijk was happy to be back and explained that he wasn’t feeling weaker or insecure due to his heavy injury. “I just need matches to get more rhythm.”
Gini Wijnaldum was asked about the Euro defeat: “We were devastated and we analysed what happened. I think looking back that we missed the team element against the Czechs. We wanted to solve the problem individually, but that wasn’t working. We forgot to play as a team. But we also need to be reasonable, we only had 10 days to get a masterclass in 5-3-2 and we did ok, but it’s only normal that we haven’t executed the system perfectly.”
Louis knows exactly how he wants to play versus Norway, but won’t divulge anything: “I am not going to make my colleague of Norway smarter than he is, already.” The players who play know it already. “I believe in clarity, I want the starters to be able to visualise the game, this will help them. And I want the non-players to be in a position to support the eleven starters.”
Asked about how this squad is different from the 2014 squad: “Not much different. These players are joyful, they enjoy what they do, they are very serious and ambitious and they are not shy to share their ideas. That is what every coach wants.”
I believe Oranje will win the game but only just: 1-2. Goals by Berghuis and Wijnaldum.
I expect a cagey and nervous match with lots of battling in midfield.
This is the line up I expect: