The winner now in Orange can be a loser again later

Orange goalkeeper Remko Pasfer pulls the ball away from Charles de Kitleri during the Netherlands-Belgium match on Sunday evening.Statue of Jos Dobelmann / de Volkskrant

Every week, the technical staff makes a draft for the Dutch national team. It is, say, the weekly average for Orange. The question now is how different the physical preparation for the duel with Belgium, for example, from the team on November 21, in the first World Cup match against Senegal.

A lot is obvious, with a show of decency and form. But today’s winner may be tomorrow’s loser. Today’s winner is goalkeeper Remko Pasphere, with his thrilling story from a book for Older Men in Football. Ajax attracted him in mid-2021 because Onana was still on hold in the new season and Stekelenburg was getting older. At 38, he may be the first World Cup goalkeeper after two solid internationals, although national coach Louis van Gaal has downplayed his stellar performances, because one dive against Poland and a ‘spear dive’ against Belgium don’t make duels. big. .

Cody Gakbo is another winner, playing in a place he doesn’t normally come to Eindhoven. He is a striker in the turn behind the two most offensive forces, while in Eindhoven he is usually the left winger. Come on, another winner then: Kenneth Taylor, a very credible midfielder with a right and left leg.


The loser is Teun Koopmeiners, who ‘gave’ little to Orange in Van Gaal terms, and got a chance as a midfield spotter but fell against Poland just a minute later. Or Justin Bello, who never got a call as a goalkeeper. But that may change if Van Gaal analyzes all the test scores with goalkeepers and knows how many goalkeepers he takes: three or four.

Van Gaal could be content with the last full week together before the World Cup. He took first place in the League of Nations group. The final tour arrived in the Netherlands, in mid-June, at Kuip in Rotterdam and Grolsch Veste in Enschede, because in Amsterdam and Eindhoven, Gus Meiwes sings the loudest.

Zero was held twice. The system is widely accepted. The hierarchy is clear, with Virgil van Dijk as the undisputed leader. The game in possession could and should be much better. The question is which strikers returning from injuries will continue to be chosen: Noah Lang, Doniel Malin, Arno Danjuma, Luke de Jong, Brian Probe? Even Xavi Simmons can consider himself somewhat promising, although he was never part of the selection.

keep shape

Now it’s all about keeping in shape, making minutes, rhythm and fitness. “I have to show it again in Eindhoven,” said Jacob after the praise. It’s a new position. This is good for my development. Staying fit is also a matter of luck, with teams with European commitments still playing at least ten or more matches until mid-November. There is no preparation for five or six weeks to recover. The World Cup is usually the dessert after the club season, and now players have to recharge twice in the fall, instead of once: for decisions in the group stage in Europe and the World Cup.

Van Gaal will make room for Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay if they are fairly fit and a decision on several players could be made shortly before departure on November 15. One player has advantages over the other based on the past. Defender Denzel Dumfries: “It’s a tough schedule. Everyone is geared for it. It’s a matter of listening to the body and limiting it.

In between, it’s time for reflections. Things are going well with Orange, so why not stay well? Among the major European countries, Italy is not placed. England, France, Spain and Germany performed moderate to poor in the Nations League group stage. Are they putting everything into the World Cup or are they currently unable to do better?

The Netherlands, eighth in the world rankings, qualified the easiest of all the major nations in the final round of the Nations League. Van Gaal is undefeated in 15 matches. The Belgian press asked him about his appreciation of the World Cup chances against the elderly Belgians. Van Gaal said coldly that he rarely looks at the Belgians during tournaments. “I only see Belgium when we have to play against them. Then we analyze them and then we win. If it’s as easy as Van Gaal says, the Netherlands have a long way to go.

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