When national team coach Louis van Gaal receives his country’s players next week, he will do so knowing that many key players are struggling to sit down. Four of them (by far) were seen during a 2-0 duel with Barcelona by Bayern Munich.
Written by Dennis Van Bergen
Honoring their heroes is entrusted to them, the Bayern Munich fans. Referee Danny McKelley barely whistled as royal applause erupted from the stands. Before him, Robert Lewandowski, the Barcelona striker today. After a match in which the Poles failed to hurt their former teammates before the break, the 75,000 waved respectfully at him as if they were jubilant. The final result of the match at the Allianz Arena that was filled with excitement for 90 minutes: 2-0.
Well, what do you do in such a situation as a person of Lewandowski’s stature? Then embrace that vocal gratitude. Although he would irrevocably do so with a vile feeling on that familiar soil. Bayern won in large part thanks to their mistakes in the first half. Lucas Hernandez (completely empty after a corner kick from Joshua Kimmich) and Leroy Sane (a nice attack) decided the match after the break, with FC Barcelona the most threatening before the break. Thus, Bayern, like last season twice, already dealt the first blow to the Catalans.
No “Dutch evening”
More important than that statistic is the question of how national coach Louis van Gaal viewed the match. After all, there was no talk of a “Dutch evening” in southern Germany. Four of his internationals, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Matisse de Ligt and Ryan Gravenburch, all played a modest role in supporting the Allianz Stadium.
De Jong only got a few minutes from his coach Xavi after the break. You might say it’s not a perfect occasion on the way to the Nations League duels with Poland and Belgium next week. And an unmistakable model for the “new” situation that Van Gaal will have to deal with until the World Cup, which will start in Qatar in just two months.
“I’m going to have to pick players who don’t play for their clubs every week,” Van Gaal said of this last week. “So I have to put my vision aside. In other words: choosing players for their qualities and not for what they bring to their clubs. That’s a problem. Only: right now, where clubs have so much choice, I can’t do anything else.”
Watch Bayern Munich 2-0.
There is no doubt that Van Gaal De Ligt would have liked to see a 90-minute fight with Lewandowski. But the defender fell victim to coach Julian Nagelsmann for his poor performance against Stuttgart last weekend, as he awarded a penalty in the final stage. Little? The half hour he was allowed to participate was too short to make a significant contribution. Conversely, the same was true of Gravenbrich, who was allowed to jog for less than ten minutes. Depay? From the bench he saw that Pedri had a good chance of scoring the opening goal early in the game. He must have thwarted him.
In a competition where eyes were mainly focused on Lewandowski beforehand, these facts brought to light the unsettling Dutch perspective. When Van Gaal receives his pick for international matches with Poland and Belgium next week, he does so in the realization that a large portion of his senior players have sitting problems.
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