The Netherlands’ first showing at this World Cup was negative, but PSV’s decisive scorer fulfilled his mission.
The pre-match prediction indicated that Senegal vs. Netherlands would be one of the best fixtures of this World Cup in the group stage, despite the absence of Sadio Mané for the Senegalese.
Expectations were fulfilled due to the pressure exerted by the selection of Senegal in the defensive field, preventing further development of the ball possession strategy of the Dutch, positioned in the 5-3-2 (with variations for 3-5-2).
Another quality in common in both teams was the good use of passes in the first half, with exactly 83% accuracy for both teams. However, the goalkeepers did little work as only Senegal finished on target (1).
Despite the balance, the “emptiness” caused by the absence of Sadio Mané was clear in two specific factors in the first half.
After suffering pressure from Senegal (with 4-2-3-1 formation), the Netherlands managed to disturb and controlled the actions from the 20/25th minute when they opted for construction exploring only the right side.
Dumfries and Berghuis occupied their original positions, but Frenkie De Jong and Gakpo dropped down the left flank to exploit Diallo’s fragility, and improvised on the right flank. Direct contests were often lost, offering chances of great danger for the Dutch.
Another specific factor in relation to the absence of Sadio Mané was the lack of the “last touch” in Senegal’s offensive constructions. Despite good articulations in the final third of the field, the completion of the plays was limited to crooked and weak shots by Gueye and center forward Dia.
Unlike the situation in the first half, the final half of the match had Senegal superior to the Netherlands at all times due to the defensive strategy of the Senegalese, blocking the midfield and completely reducing the spaces of the opponent.
However, the Netherlands managed to be fatal with the young offensive duo that poses the greatest threat to opponents in this World Cup.
The winning goal came from the millimetre launch by Frenkie de Jong for the young star Gakpo to take advantage of and dodge with his head, taking the goalkeeper with a huge category in a fatal header, in the infiltration to the penalty area. A huge goal from the PSV striker.
In additional time, Davy Klassen scored the second goal for the Netherlands after Senegal mistake. Goalkeeper Mendy, who experienced a great phase in the 2021/22 season for Chelsea, failed to move and released the ball, facilitating Klassen’s task.
The Netherlands showed considerable problems in the first half under coach Louis van Gaal. In general, the performance was below the selection of Senegal. To advance in the World Cup thinking about the title, it is necessary to improve performance for the next fixtures.
Sports journalist, content writer and passionate football lover.