The first Dutch goal, the 0-1 after fourteen minutes, was symptomatic of the superiority of Orange in the penultimate test for the World Cup in Qatar; 21 players hit the ball, with no Polish intervention, in a meandering combination from side to side, with a great bounce from Memphis Depay, just hard enough to send Denzel Dumfries, the attacking full-back on the right, on his way to something beautiful. Cody Gakpo completed his pass in a controlled manner.
On Sunday, the decision will be made in the group of the highest category of the Nations League, when the Orange receives Belgium in the Johan Cruijff Arena, which won against Wales. The Netherlands has three points more and has an advantageous buffer, if the Belgians win on Sunday. Then the mutual result counts and the Netherlands won 4-1 in Brussels. Should the Orange finish first, the final round with the four group winners will be in the Netherlands next year, with the new national coach Ronald Koeman.
The first goal was the absolute highlight of the game, in which the Orange fell back briefly after the break. So far, the injuries are worrying. Koopmeiners retired after his first game, after a collision. De Jong remained in the dressing room after the break, after he briefly pulled his leg. And shortly after the break, top scorer Memphis Depay felt the hamstring. Vincent Janssen, Belgium’s top scorer at FC Antwerp, duly replaced him.
Poland-Netherlands was not only for that reason a somewhat strange match. It was a game with relatively little pace and few moments before the goals, especially in the first half, when debut goalkeeper Remko Pasveer had to make one dive on a Zurawski shot. The Poles, like the Netherlands less than two months from the World Cup, allowed almost everything, so the Netherlands played the ball endlessly, using the wings, the technical supremacy, the learned positional play and the dominance from the textbook of national coach Louis van Gaal, who wants to turn his last job as a trainer into a work of art, so that he will definitely appear in the history books as a Dutch master.
Steven Berghuis, Cody Gakpo, when they are given the space to play football, when they are free they can do almost anything, then they put the balls where they want, then it is fun. Van Gaal had said he wanted to see a good performance of his World Cup system, which he wishes to call 1-3-4-3. In addition, the front three are actually a 1 and a 2, for an offensive player behind two real attackers. Gakpo, at PSV usually from the left, behind Steven Bergwijn and Depay.
Pasveer made his debut as by far the oldest international in history, at the age of 38, and Koopmeiners was the control room in midfield with De Jong. Only, and that was a shame, Koopmeiners already retired after his first game when he was hit unluckily after an aerial duel by Linetty. Dumb, on a stretcher, he disappeared behind the scenes, after which Berghuis replaced him excellently.
Marten de Roon, more sober in his performance, replaced Frenkie de Jong. The Poles were only dangerous after 50 minutes, when substitute Milik overshot from close range, after a breakthrough on Frankowski’s right. The three in the back of the Orange squad hardly flinched: Jurriën Timber, the Ajax player who is taking giant steps on the line of his career; captain Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Aké, usually reserve at Manchester City, but Van Gaal wants a left foot in the threesome. The ‘wingbacks’ Denzel Dumfries and Daley Blind were given almost every opportunity to attack the apathetic Poles.
Even before the Polish offensive had really started after the break, it was already over, because of the 0-2 of the Orange. Another nice goal, as a result of the Orange pressure. Aké captured the ball, briefly played to De Roon. Bergwijn then combined with Vincent Janssen, many of whom wondered why Van Gaal called him up in June. As against Wales in June, he made a decent contribution. Bergwijn scored after his perfect pass in the combination.
The couch bounced. Van Gaal, seated between his assistants: Danny Blind and Edgar Davids, in his beautiful brown coat. In the final phase, when the match was decided, Van Gaal had a second debutant show up: midfielder Kenneth Taylor of Ajax. It remained 0-2. No goal against, that was also a wish of Van Gaal.