The Netherlands – United States was the triumph of the fullbacks. Daley Blind; goal and assist. Denzel Dumfries, two assists and a goal. The so-called wingbacks as glorious pawns of a strategy. Wing defenders. At Orange they have to be one creative man together. Test successful. Memphis Depay, another creative, also scored.
Orange’s style is unorthodox. Although? Unusual begins to be ordinary. The fact that the day would come when football players from the former guiding country of the Netherlands would certainly leave the initiative almost entirely to the Americans, who only really developed the game in the last few decades, is special to say the least. It is no different and it brings success. On Friday in the Lusail stadium, at 8 p.m. Dutch time, the quarterfinals with the Orange will take place against the winner of Argentina – Australia.
A bizarre goal by substitute Haji Wright in the final phase, who himself did not know how he hit the ball, seemed to cause some tension. The Orange briefly fell into chaos, but restored order with a goal from Van Gaal’s kitchen. Blind crossed over the defense, Dumfries scored with the left.
Orange with just a little frills is the new reality under Van Gaal and his adage of winning, and nothing but winning. At least, it is the polished reality of the 2014 World Cup, when Van Gaal already took third place with the Netherlands, dressed in a slightly different jacket. Then: better attackers. Now: better defenders. Saturday’s round of 16, in the Khalifa stadium of Doha, resulted in a relatively easy victory despite the final phase, against a team that played more offensively than Senegal, Ecuador in Qatar in the group stage, which gave the Orange the chance to play out the counterattack perfectly .
At halftime, the team was already leading 2-0. Immediately switch a few times, adjust the recipe of the team slightly. Steven Bergwijn came in, for even more speed, Teun Koopmeiners, for the passing.
The Orange, that is to hold back, with a steeled center with Jurriën Timber, Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Aké, with Marten de Roon as extra midfield guard, with Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries on the wings, as men who attack and defend. With the wonderful playmaker Frenkie de Jong, with the always working Davy Klaassen as a shadow striker with a sense of position. With Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo up front. And with Andries Noppert as goalkeeper of course.
The Netherlands were helped by an early goal, a brilliant goal, the highlight of the evening. Twenty consecutive ball contacts, regularly hitting once, started somewhere on the left flank, with Blind as an important intermediary. There the ball went, across the ground, from foot to foot. Finally from Gakpo to Dumfries, who had such a difficult tournament in the group stage, but was now completely loose and gave the beautiful, so-called withdrawn cross to the edge of the penalty area, where Memphis Depay was decided on his 43rd goal as an international. He is now only second on the all-time list, behind Robin van Persie. Van Gaal had calmly let the injured Depay grow into the tournament, aware that he needed his creativity.
And no matter how fierce the criticism of the game, especially from the Dutch who want to see Orange as a machine of total football, the quarter-final is also the success of Van Gaal, who is clapping before kick-off when his players enter the field, who are experience the final act, believe in the world title and come up with all kinds of moves with effect: putting Noppert in the goal. He made an important save in the second minute, off a shot from Pulisic, when Blind took a moment to clear offside.
Yes, criticism of Blind is always easy to give, but so unjustified. He has been one of the better ones at the Orange throughout the entire tournament. His sprint sometimes looks clumsy, but Aké has him covered and he is so good on the ball, so smart, offensive, in passing, in position play. He received his reward in stoppage time of the first half when he made it 2–0, again from a deflected ball from Dumfries over the ground. It was perhaps the ultimate goal for Van Gaal. One so-called wingback crosses, the other scores. Later it worked again.
After the break it was nice to play football for the Orange, although the Americans then got a few chances to get closer. The Netherlands was much more dangerous in the counter-attack, although that often did not go well enough. Wright’s goal, after a frivolity from Depay, shortly after Dumfries had already kept a bet from the substitute off the line, seemed to create some danger. Until Dumfries scored and Van Gaal made Xavi Simons debut to demonstrate the superiority.