Sarina Wegman was clearly upset after the loss to the Netherlands. In clear English, she explained to her regular followers in the British media that she was disappointed by the goal her team conceded from offside. She didn’t like the fact that there was no VAR. The mistake of one of her players in the final stage was what bothered her the most. “We gave away a goal and that’s very disappointing.”
The Hague English coach mainly analyzed her current team, but indirectly praised her old team for her upset. It certainly took luck, but the Netherlands also made it difficult for the vice world champion on Tuesday in a sold-out Galgenwaard. Thanks to Renate Jansen’s brutal strike in the 90th minute, the team finally won again against a top team.
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Dirk Jacob Neubauer is a sports reporter for De Volkskrant He writes about football and handball. He was previously a Turkish political correspondent and journalist.
This victory was necessary to keep the Olympic dream alive. Only the winner of the Nations League group remains in the race for Paris. After losing to Belgium on Friday, the Netherlands needed three points to draw with England. If the two teams do not lose points against Belgium and Scotland, a return at Wembley on December 1 will be decisive.
Juncker’s tactical plan
Apart from that, the win in Utrecht also has symbolic value. The last time the Netherlands beat countries from the top of the world was in the spring of 2021 when the Netherlands beat Germany (2-1) and Australia (5-0). At that time, Wegman, the coach with whom the Netherlands were European champions in 2017 and reached the World Cup final in 2019, was still coach of the national team. After she left, she was no longer able to win, but this streak was broken upon her return as a coach in the Netherlands.
Coach Andris Juncker’s team also played strongly, especially in the first half. The national team coach was surprised by his defenders’ confusion. Captain Shereda Spitz is no longer a right-sided centre-back, but is now a central midfielder. Caitlin Dijkstra was on the right and it went very well.
The Twente defender, who will leave for European club Wolfsburg next year, must fill the gap left by Stephanie van der Gragt. The defender retired after this summer’s World Cup, and as the end of her career approaches, her profile has increased. Juncker nicknamed her “Steel Steef” because of her ability to overcome.
Van der Gragt, like Sarri van Veenendaal and Kika van Es, bid farewell to the fans in Utrecht. During the match, Dykstra (24 years old) raised her hand to take over. Combined with Viktoria Belova, she made it very difficult on the English left side, especially in the first half.
The Netherlands was also lucky. With the ever-vigilant assistant referee, or VAR, Lieke Martens’ scoreline could not have been called 1-0. England also had several big chances, but not scoring is not just luck. It’s simply difficult to score against goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar.
Her absence due to injury on Friday in Leuven was also felt immediately. Then the Netherlands lost in the final stage due to a fatal error by her replacement, Jacintha Weimar. There were more challenges against Belgium and on a day like this Netherlands can also lose to a sub-par team like Belgium.
Opinions differ on this idiot. According to Captain Spitz, the Netherlands also played well that evening, but no goals were scored. “I think we also silenced all those who doubted us after the match against Belgium,” she said angrily after the victory over England.
Shortly afterwards, Lieke Martens was more accurate in the match against the tightly defended Belgian team. She also said: “I think we need more creativity to play against a low block.” “I personally think we can do it better and better.”
Connect to the top
However, the win over England erased the damage caused by that loss. The Dutch national team can still do that, as national coach Anders Juncker said months ago. “I think we have joined the ranks of the best in the world.”
Juncker’s definition of a global summit is on the broad side, but not unrealistic. Sweden tops the FIFA rankings, followed by Spain, America and England, while Australia ranks eleventh. Among them are countries such as Japan and France. These countries were already equal in the World Cup.
At its peak, the Netherlands ranked third on the FIFA list, falling to ninth place and rising to seventh place after the World Cup. It provides perspective on oftentimes irritation. “I’m not saying we’re better, not even after winning, but you can’t deny that we’re one of the best eleven teams in the world,” Juncker says.
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