My friends, I am moving house this weekend so no long stories. Just some fun tidbits. First some fun news on Pulisic, who is declared fit to play vs The Netherlands.
US coach Gregg Berhalter and players Sergino Dest and Luca de la Torre have well publicised histories in the Netherlands. Dest was born in the Netherlands and almost played for the Oranje, but the Milan star decided to go for the land of his parents. De La Torre played very recently for Heracles Almelo and coach Berhalter spent 6 seasons in Holland as a player. He played for Cambuur and Sparta and with the latter, he beat Louis van Gaal’s Ajax, 1-0 in 1997.
Not a lot of people know that Christian Pulisic played for PSV in 2013. For 2 weeks only. But as you can see below in the same team as Cody Gakpo, his opponent tonight. Pulisic was on trial and impressed PSV mightily. But when Borussia Dortmund offered Pulisic Sr. a job as youth coach on top, the youngster went for the German club.
— Guardadinho (@been_mario) December 1, 2022
Van Gaal didn’t give much away in the press conference. It’s everyone’s guess what he’ll do with the line up but I think he’ll use the usual players (no Xavi, no Lang) as he is hoping/working on getting his preferred eleven (13?) to start clicking into gear. He did joke that he heard the Belgium job was available after the World Cup and that his wife, the by know infamous Truus, wouldn’t mind living in Belgium for a spell.
Berhalter too had some fun moments in his presser. He said Van Gaal claimed not to remember losing against Sparta with Berhalter in 1997, but the USA coach thinks Louis was lying. “A guy like him remembers those sorts of things, trust me.” Berhalter has generated heaps of inspiration from his time in Holland. “It was great. What struck me was the after training and matches, players would debate tactics with the coach and everyone in Holland has an opinion. I learned a lot. We had a good striker in Remco Boere, he instructed me exactly how he wanted to crosses. I hit the ball with a lot of effect. He hated that. So I had to adjust.” Berhalter became good friends with current Feyenoord coach Arne Slot. “He was young still, 16 years old when I met him, but it was clear he could become a top coach. He is intelligent, calm and has a great view on football. Passion and intelligence.” He also laughed when asked about the criticism of the fans on Oranje. “That is normal in Holland. They are so critical and vocal. We once were 1-0 down against Ajax away, and the Ajax fans booed their team! You have 16 million national team coaches, right?”
Aaron Johansson and Steven Berghuis at AZ
Former USA international Aaron Johansson remembers his time in Holland as well, the part Icelandic, part American forward played with Steven Berghuis and Davy Klaassen. Injuries made an end to Johansson’s career. “I am not surprised to see Berghuis in Oranje. In fact, I expected him way earlier. He did have a tough time in England I guess, but has the most gifted left foot I ever came across. I am not surprised he is World Cup material. I played with Klaassen at Werder Bremen. Again, not surprised he is in the team. He is so good, his movements and the easy with which he plays. Always simple but always the right pass. Sometimes you don’t realise how good he is. He can make tough things look easy. It’s logical that he is in the line up.”
Johansson ended his statements saying he hopes USA wins 3-2, with a goal by Berghuis and Klaassen.
Why does Virgil van Dijk play as a goalie for Cameroon??
The betting analysts now moved Oranje up to fifth spot to win the World Cup, behind Brazil, Argentina, France, Spain, England and Portugal.
At the last Presser, Van Gaal responded to the criticism his team is receiving. “Its not new. I am used to it. I got it in 2014 as well. The players are used to it too. We just do our thing.” On the comments Memphis made, that he prefers to play with Bergwijn next to him and Gakpo behind him. “It’s his right to give his opinion. I don’t mind. It is something we do in The Netherlands. Particularly, in the Netherlands. Is it smart? No, I don’t think so but I can’t blame him for speaking his mind.”
And: “We are now all match fit, for the first time this tournament. We had players like Klaassen, De Roon, Berghuis, De Vrij and of course Memphis not totally 100% but we were able to bring them all to this point.”
I say: 3-1 for Holland. Memphis, Bergwijn and Gakpo scoring.
Interview Frenkie: with English subtitle option