Simply over seven years after the top of his final stint with the Dutch nationwide group, Louis van Gaal was again once more.
This time, he was changing Frank de Boer, who confronted the sack after a disappointing Euros marketing campaign that was riddled with tactical points. His job was, after all, to repair these issues, and the primary likelihood he bought to indicate a few of his work in observe got here in opposition to Norway in Group G of the European Qualifiers for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
Heading into the match, the Netherlands had been second of their group and only a level behind leaders Turkey, however with each their opponents on the night time and Montenegro degree on factors with them, a win was crucial to maintain their qualification marketing campaign on observe.
The very first thing we bought to see was, clearly, his line-up, which noticed various key figures from the Euros dropped to the bench. The ex-Manchester United supervisor has at all times been an advocate of utilizing gamers from the Eredivisie for the nationwide aspect, and that was evident as soon as once more as six of his chosen XI play their membership soccer within the Netherlands.
Much more noteworthy was the swap in formation to a 4-3-3 after de Boer had caught to a back-three system for many of its tenure. That is, after all, the place all of the tactical variations begin to stem from, and we can be exploring them on this evaluation.
Within the build-up part, they didn’t have to fret about any Norwegian stress. Their form remained largely unchanged in what can mainly be described as a 2-3-4-1, with Frenkie de Jong generally dropping in between or to at least one aspect of the centre-backs and the full-backs getting ahead. The opposite two midfielders bought ahead and positioned themselves between the traces, the place Davy Klaassen’s positioning was extra central than that of Georginio Wijnaldum as a result of Cody Gakpo stayed pretty slim on the left whereas Steven Berghuis typically hugged the touchline on the fitting. Memphis Depay, as at all times, had the liberty to float round and transfer into the channels.
As was the case below de Boer. de Jong was the important thing to every part that the Netherlands did in possession. He was the dominant determine by way of touches and passes as soon as once more – managing a match-high tally in each metrics with 130 and 116 respectively. His heatmap backs up what we beforehand mentioned about his positioning within the build-up, additionally indicating that he most popular to drop to the left of Virgil van Dijk.
The dynamic between Jurrien Timber and Berghuis on the fitting was fairly fascinating. As aforementioned, the winger would typically hug the touchline, prompting the 20-year-old defender to remain again and take up a slim place.
In different instances, Berghuis moved inwards within the attacking line, permitting the full-back to take up a extra orthodox place out extensive.
Towards a compact 4-4-2 Norwegian block, the guests naturally struggled to interrupt by centrally. The wings had been, subsequently, essentially the most fruitful route for creating probabilities, and the commonest theme of their assaults got here on the fitting, the place Berghuis would drop deep and drag Birger Meling (Norway’s left-back) away to vacate a pocket of house in behind, which might be utilized by both Depay or Wijnaldum, who would then have the chance to cross.
That was precisely how the Dutch purpose was created, as Berghuis slipped a ball down the wing for Wijnaldum with Meling pulled out of possession.
Van Gaal’s aspect didn’t have an amazing variety of our bodies within the field, however they’d their attackers unfold properly. Gakpo was sometimes discovered on the far publish (from the place he tried 4 open play headers within the match), Depay lurked centrally to occupy the centre-backs, and Klaassen made late bursts into the field.
Certainly, it was the Ajax man who ended up poking the ball residence to equalise.
The Netherlands’ set-up with the ball additionally accommodated counterpressing, which was a key issue of their dominance of possession as they noticed over 65% of the ball.
Norway misplaced possession in their very own half on eight events (extra typically than they did within the Dutch half), which signifies a profitable software of counterpressing on the guests’ half.
Nonetheless, there was an enormous threat hooked up to this too, as a result of if the house aspect had been capable of evade the counterpress, they’d some critical high quality up entrance to punish the Dutch defence. That high quality primarily got here from a person referred to as Erling Haaland.
In truth, they solely allowed two such breaks to happen however had been very practically punished on each events.
The primary noticed Jens Peter Hauge slip Haaland by on purpose within the sixteenth minute, with Justin Bijlow’s quickness off his line saving the day.
The second time round, a failed counterpress…
… led to Martin Ødegaard leaving the Borussia Dortmund striker in an identical scenario, and this time it was the within of the publish that saved the guests.
With out the ball in organised defence, the Netherlands sat in a vertically compact 4-1-4-1 with the wingers dropping again. They didn’t actually press excessive up the pitch though Depay did shut down the keeper when he might and the wingers tried to push the full-backs again in the event that they acquired the ball in tight areas, nonetheless, they principally waited on the fringe of the attacking third, and man-marking was practised in midfield.
A excessive line of defense, although, didn’t appear to be the neatest transfer in opposition to a ahead with the velocity of Haaland, particularly with just about no stress utilized to the centre-backs in possession.
All issues thought of, this was a strong return to administration for van Gaal given the dearth of time to arrange in-depth and high quality of their Norwegian opponents. The shift in model from de Boer’s vertical and direct soccer that aimed to stretch the opposition in all instructions to the ex-Bayern Munich supervisor’s managed possession appeared clean sufficient, as not one of the gamers regarded notably uncomfortable of their new roles.
One match is, after all, too small a dataset to start out drawing any conclusions, however the indicators definitely are encouraging for the Netherlands. In addition to dominating possession, in addition they had the clear majority of pictures with 17 to 7 conceded and a considerably better xG at 2.26 in comparison with Norway’s 0.88. Then once more, had one among Haaland’s two one-on-one pictures been positioned barely otherwise, his aspect might need come away with a victory, so some defensive points nonetheless must be ironed out.
General, although, it will be illogical to ask for something greater than a good exhibiting from the Dutch on this match, however they’ll undoubtedly have to enhance because the draw between Turkey and Montenegro implies that their group remains to be extensive open, and even one slip-up now might show decisively pricey.