Friday, September 22, 2023

Spain – Netherlands: The moment of truth has arrived

It’s time for the truth. The most complicated challenge for the Red in recent years. The opportunity to continue writing history and that it does not end here. The quarterfinals of a World Cup. Spain against the Netherlands. A duel that could have been the final if fate had not crossed the path of both teams. A team that seeks to give the final blow on the table against another that is the current runner-up in the world. A game that, above all, promises a show.

A lot has happened since the Netherlands took silver in the last World Cup, in 2019. She came to the event, then, being European champion in 2017 and with a Lieke Martens who promised to be the next leading star on the international scene. She was one step away from repeating gold (they lost 2-0 in the final against the United States), this time at the global level, and took silver. A silver with a lot of value and that was the pride of an entire country. At the Tokyo Olympics -disputed in 2021 due to covid-, the Dutch team reached the quarterfinals, where they were defeated in a penalty shootout against the United States, again. It was then that Sarah Wiegman -selector between 2017 and 2021- decided to change scenery and her country for England, with whom she won the Euro Cup last summer.

calm after the storm

After the departure of Wiegman, The Netherlands ceased to be recognizable and entered a grayer stage with an internal crisis. This crisis led to a change of coach. Mark Parsons -the successor of sarina– He resigned after the bad image left by the ‘Oranje’ in the last European Championship, in which he reached the quarterfinals. His place was occupied andries jonkerwho, little by little, has been recovering the best version of his team, which has familiar faces and veterans as well as young promises.

They started the World Cup with more doubts than certainties and went from less to more to achieve first place in the group, with two victories -against Portugal, 1-0, and against Vietnam, 0-7- and a draw with the United States (1- 1). In the round of 16 they faced South Africa, which was the big surprise in group G, and they won 2-0, with goals from Jill Roord and lineth beerensteyn. A duel that could have been much tighter if it weren’t for goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar, chosen ‘MVP’, who saved her team from what would have been considered a failure.

Threefold threat

It was difficult for the Netherlands to progress and build the game and the defense, perhaps its weakest point, was easily beaten. They were lucky, too, that Jill Roord She is sweet and is being one of the great protagonists of the World Cup. The new Manchester City player is the second top scorer in the tournament along with Popp and Diani, with four goals and only one behind the Japanese Hinata Miyazawaone of the main weapons for Jonker.

The Dutch coach also has the seniority and differential quality of Lieke Martens, who is rediscovering her best version after a difficult year at PSG, and with the speed and overflow of the young Esmee Brugts (2003), one of the great promises of international women’s football.

Spain arrives at the appointment with good feelings after the win against Switzerland but with the utmost respect for the rival. To win, they will have to reinforce the midfield -the Netherlands play with diamonds- and, above all, put into practice the work they have been doing these days around effectiveness.


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