Just ten months ago, after scoring a stoppage-time goal against Iceland, the Orange Women narrowly qualified for the World Cup finals. Could the same team play an important role in the final tournament in Australia and New Zealand? That was the question in the Group B match against defending champions USA, a repeat of the 2019 World Cup final.
Judging by the result, a 1-1 draw on Thursday morning at Wellington's Sky Stadium, it can at least be said that progress has been made under new national coach Anders Junker. The Dutch national team no longer plays in a boring and uninspired manner as it did in last year's European Championship, where they failed in the quarter-finals under the leadership of Mark Parsons.
He remained physically upright
This orange color shows a more mature and fresh face. The draw against America, the four-time world and Olympic champion, was an excellent example of this. Especially in the second half, after Lindsay Horan canceled out Gil Rohr's early opener after more than an hour of play, an intense and compelling football battle ensued, in which the Dutch side remained on their feet.
Holland did this thanks to her good physical condition. This has been one of the focuses of Junker, who since last August, when he was appointed national team coach, has insisted on good fitness and high intensity among the Orange Women squad. With results. “We sent America from pillar to post,” Juncker then said of the first half of NOS.
Whether in the opening match of the World Cup, a difficult victory over Portugal (1-0), or in the match against the United States, the Dutch team was more physically stable. Thus, America, the country that owed its previous four world titles primarily to its conditional sporting superiority over the rest of the countries, remained under control. “Physically we have been able to compete for a long time and well, but we have not yet arrived in America,” Juncker concluded.
Twelve years later, we fell behind again
Of course, it cannot be said on the basis of a single match whether the Netherlands will once again be among the best players in the world. Moreover, there is still a lot to be said for the tie with America. In the event of possession, things are not over yet for the Dutch national team. But the turmoil and chaos subsided after Roord's opening goal, and the Dutch national team took control of the match. This is a good thing against a country that last trailed in a World Cup match in 2011. America was clearly upset and had difficulty dealing with the Netherlands' 5-3-2 attacking system.
Only after the break, when Rose Lavelle was introduced, did America recover. The Dutch team was in danger of being overtaken at that stage. Jackie Groenen, making her 100th cap, had her hands full keeping order in midfield. ]
However, America launched its attack more smoothly and smoothly. Team USA continued to press, as evidenced by the 11 corner kicks, one of which Horan scored after the hour mark. Especially after the withdrawal of Stephanie van der Gragt, who was injured at half-time, the Dutch team was vulnerable in the air. These are shortcomings that countries such as Canada, England, Spain, France and Brazil know how to deal with.
Team spirit can serve as the foundation. In the absence of all-time top scorer Viviane Miedema, the Netherlands prove to be a cohesive team, despite their goals being wasted, of course. It is reminiscent of Feyenoord, who feared collapse after the departure of top scorer Steven Berghuis, but instead have flourished as a team.
Against Vietnam, the opponent in the last group match on Tuesday morning, a high score may be decisive for winning the group. If the Dutch team qualifies to the top of the group, Sweden, Italy, Argentina or South Africa will wait for it in the eighth finals. If you want to be among the best in the World Cup, you have to show it in the knockout stage.
Other host countries also fail to secure qualifications
As with New Zealand, the other World Cup hosts also lost their second group match after winning the first. Australia lost 3-2 to Nigeria, which now has four points and leads the group with Canada. Australia, seen as out of contention for the title, is third on three points. This means they still have to work hard in the final match against Canada to ensure qualification for the knockout stage. The Matildas have been plagued by injuries in this tournament. Star player Sam Kerr, for example, played less than a minute.
Dutch start World Cup 'as a minor team to be feared'
On Sunday, Dutch football players will open their World Cup campaign against Portugal, which is ranked 21st in the world rankings. What can you expect from this orange?
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