The mood after Ecuador was so low and the performance on the ball was so bad that Louis van Gaal wanted to use the game versus Qatar to go back to the basis foundation of our football.
He also wanted to use the match to start Memphis for the first time and change the personnel in midfield.
As you all know Louis by now, he would never change more than 3 players in his line up, understandably.
And our game was better. Our performance on the ball was neat. We offered options, we passed and moved so we could play forward. The ball circulation was better, the pace and intensity were better and we scored two nice goals too. We got a third one chalked off, but I believe that was a bit petty. The arm was next to the body and the ball was hit against it. If Gakpo had one arm amputated he’d still control that ball but with his side. I will count it as a 3-0, assist Janssen, goal Berghuis.
Van Gaal: “This was a match of two teams playing the same system, leading into a chess match of some sort as they covered our forwards with 5 defenders and the battle was in midfield. Which we won and were expected to win. In those sorts of games, it’s the forwards who need to make the difference and Memphis is the kind of player who can be that difference. You can say what you want about him but he is super important in the team and involved in both goals. I want him to take risks and I want him to keep on trying his actions. This guy, he didn’t play for 2 months and he has played 65 minutes today, meaning he is now getting close to playing a full match.”
Van Gaal is focusing on two things and two things only: winning the game and making sure his team gets a bit better for the next game.
“I think we did really well, looking back, in terms of squad management. I wanted the players who lack rhythm to play. De Roon has been out and I have given him time. Same with Frenkie and Gakpo whom we could spare a bit by giving them a rest by taking them off. The last 10 or 15 minutes of a game is where players start to dig into their reserves, which can have an impact for the next match. Gakpo is on fire, this is why I subbed him. Klaassen and Berghuis haven’t played all matches for Ajax, so I wanted to get them to full match fitness too. Simons is fully fit, I wanted to spare him for when we truly need him. Lang took a knock on training and I also wanted to spare him for now.”
The analysts in the studio were gobsmacked that Lang or Simons didn’t get a chance. Van Hooijdonk, Van der Vaart, Van Basten… They all felt this was the ideal match to bring the youngsters. “Janssen is not in great form, Koopmeiners didn’t play well v Ecuador… If you don’t play him now, when will you??”
Davy Klaassen was selected as Man of the Match, by FIFA. They use some weird algorithm to do this and Klaassen was also confused: “Me? Oh? Why… well, I’ll take it but…. I dunno, it’s not something you think about during the match. But we did ok, we played closer together, we were able to combine better this way. You want to create 10 chances every match but it’s not that easy. These group games are hard, you can see it in other groups as well.”
Klaassen must feel like he’s at an In and Out Burger. Than he starts, than he is passed over. “Oh, that is how Van Gaal works. He has different types of players and he uses us like chess board pieces, hahaha. He will analyse what he needs per match. The good thing is, he will tell you exactly why you play or why you don’t play. We all know his thinking, and that helps.”
Van der Vaart was positive about Memphis: “He is not in top shape, that is clear. But he is always busy, always threatening, he will always work even if he is not playing well. He is improving and that is logical if you were out 2 months. He was important with that second goal so he needs to keep on working and it will come back. Hopefully in time.”
Xavi Simons did not make his debut. Many people thought Van Gaal would use him after his positive words for Simons in the presser. “People think that when I say “he is making good progress”, that he needs to start in the Oranje line up immediately. Sorry, that is not how it works. Ken Taylor is also making steps and he has had three sub turns for us and he has done very well. Players need to be patient. I judge them on their profile and specific contributions and on their form. When these two match and I need to solve a problem I will use that player. Xavi knows this.”
Daley Blind had another important match for Oranje. The wingbacks are supposed to be the key players in this system, and where Dumfries was key for us in the group at the Euros, he’s pretty quiet up until now. He has no shots on goals, he has had no chances created and he has had no successful cross into the box! Blind only had one attempt on goal against Senegal.
Van Gaal: “The wingbacks need to play with the space they get and we need to use them as high as possible but only if we have dominance in the game. Otherwise, you are at too much risk. When we play against a team with 5 defenders, like we did versus Ecuador and Qatar, it’s harder because you only have limited moments to play them in.”
Blind played an important part in the Oranje build up versus Qatar, but this due to the different tactics of Qatar. Qatar does not press the Oranje wingbacks as Ecuador did.
Qatar wants the midfielders to put pressure on our wingbacks so they can keep their 5 defenders all the way at the back. This is perfect for Blind. Qatar gives him all the time and space to come up with solutions.
Here is an example. Blind has the ball on the left flank and can wait for the movement of Memphis or Gakpo. Gakpo and Klaassen run deep making space for Memphis and Blind is the ideal player to play these passes in between the lines.
This is what happens for the 1-0. Blind plays in Memphis in between the lines. Gakpo makes a dart deep and than we get the quick fire combination of Memphis, Gakpo, Klaassen, Gakpo and 1-0.
— NOS Sport (@NOSsport) November 29, 2022
The second goal is a bit similar. Noppert opens to Blind. You can see the huge distances Qatar has to deal with. Blind can move up the pitch and when Ake plays the ball to the in-between the lines Memphis, he finds Blind who is now close to the final third.
Blind has time again, and when he makes a dummy pass for Memphis and his run, the space opens up for Frenkie, to receive the ball.
Here you also see the value of Marten de Roon, who covers the space behind Frenkie. Frenkie opens up to the right, via Klaassen and Dumfries cross is converted into a goal, eventually by Frenkie de Jong.
De Roon covering for Frenkie
Blind has the most successful passes in the Qatar match, towards the final third (36 passes) and he finds Memphis and Frenkie – our danger men – most: De Jong 20 times and Memphis 10 times. Blind can really benefit from the Qatar style of defending and is the starting point of most of our successful attacks.
What this means for the future. Not much… As it is not likely that Blind will get this much time and space versus Team USA or any other opponent.