Unless the Orange gets a kick out of the Red Devils on Sunday, it can go to the Final Four of the Nations League for the second time. The Dutch deserved to win in Poland, although they were disappointed because of the injuries, including captain and top scorer Depay.
“It is not des-Van Gaals to select a 38-year-old,” said Louis van Gaal himself, but he did it anyway. What’s more: he simply set it up in Poland. Remko Pasveer (38 years, 318 days) became the oldest player ever in Orange after Sander Boschker (39 years, 224 days). No problem by the way, as it turned out before rest. The Ajax goalkeeper had hardly any work to do. He had no problem with Zielinski’s pick-up and Zalewski’s shot. What about Lewandowski?, you wonder. The national coach thought it was a good thing that his five-man defense was once again against a world striker, with a view to the World Cup, but the Barcelona top scorer did not appear in the first half. So kudos to that defense.
The match had started with a damper for Van Gaal, because he wanted to experiment in a few positions and that is why Koopmeiners also played in midfield – in good shape with Serie A leader Atalanta. After a minute and a half, however, he fell out and Berghuis replaced him. Anyway: after 45 minutes there was (deserved) 0-1 on the board and that was what counted. Blind had slipped wide for the first good chance, but after thirteen minutes a tiqui taca attack resulted in the opening goal. Depay – at Barça in the shadow of Lewandowski – showed that he can still play football and played the upcoming Dumfries wonderfully. It laid wide and Cody Gakpo tapped in. Gakpo: another person who had to seize his chance. The PSV attacker did that.
Janssen (Antwerp) important
Nice for the Antwerp fans: after the break Vincent Janssen was soon allowed to show up. Less for the Dutch national team: he relieved the injured Depay. The captain/top scorer remained seated after contact with Zielinski, grabbed his thigh and was unable to continue. Almost even more disaster, because a minute later the Poles already had a life-size chance at the equalizer. Blind couldn’t keep up with Frankowski and Milik had his cross just before tapping in. However, the ex-Ajax man shot high over.
But look: “every disadvantage has its advantage”, as Cruijff once said. Depay’s replacement was none other than Antwerp striker Vincent Janssen, who ensured that it was not 1-1 but 0-2. Bergwijn set up the one-two with Janssen, who held off his opponent with his strong body and passed the ball perfectly into the course of the Ajax winger. Finishing was a breeze. The assistant Janssen scored extra points and has a good chance of being allowed to go to Qatar.
After Pasveer, another debutant got his chance: Kenneth Taylor, Ajax midfielder who Alfred Schreuder would have liked to have brought to Club Brugge at the beginning of this year. But not much happened. Janssen, among others, went wide again, but it remained 0-2. Enough for the Netherlands to remain in pole position for the Final Four.