Depay to miss Netherlands opener but Van Gaal expects to improve on 2014 bronze

By Sports Desk November 20, 2022

Memphis Depay will not feature in the Netherlands' World Cup opener against Senegal, but coach Louis van Gaal remains optimistic for the tournament, believing this squad to be capable of improving on a third-placed finish at Brazil 2014.

Depay had been a doubt for Monday's match in Doha due to a hamstring injury that has limited him to only two LaLiga appearances at Barcelona this season.

Oranje coach Van Gaal, speaking to the media on Sunday, confirmed the forward would miss out against Senegal, suggesting his "idea of the match" centred around how the two teams would fare without their respective stars. Senegal's Sadio Mane is out of the entire tournament.

Depay was involved in more goals in European qualifying for Qatar 2022 than any other player, scoring 12 and assisting a further six in just 10 matches.

Van Gaal said: "Mane can break open a match, and I would say Senegal will really miss him. But the same applies to us. We are really missing our top scorer and the king of the assists."

However, the Netherlands boss had been aware a swift return was unlikely for Depay, adding: "We knew before the World Cup he had a different programme, a different schedule than the schedule of a player who is preparing for a match."

When he recovers, Depay will be tasked with leading the line for a Dutch side Van Gaal considers superior to his class of 2014 – the last team he took to a tournament in the second of three stints in the role.

The Netherlands reached the semi-finals on that occasion, losing to Argentina on penalties before beating Brazil in the third-place play-off.

Given Van Gaal's high opinion of this group of players and his own considerable experience, he expects results to follow – potentially culminating in a first World Cup triumph.

"I believe in this squad, this group of players," he said. "In 2014, we came third with a squad of lesser quality, I would say. With this group, I expect more.

"It all depends not only on technical skills and tactical skills but also a bit of luck that you score at the right time or that the others don't score.

"I think we could become world champion, but there are squads that are in my view of a higher level than my squad. The thing is how the squad deals with that, and there I think I may be able to benefit from a head start.

"I'm saying we can become world champion. Whether we become world champion is a separate issue, but I'm saying we can."

While Van Gaal would not confirm the identity of his starting goalkeeper, he hinted at Cody Gakpo getting the nod ahead of Davy Klaassen in Depay's absence, and there is no doubt who his captain is.

Van Dijk appeared next to Van Gaal, who said: "I have a wonderful captain next to me. I have worked with so many captains, and he is a truly great captain. That makes things easier."

But neither Van Dijk nor Van Gaal would answer political questions after Gianni Infantino's remarkable opening address the previous day.

"I am no longer going to speak about political issues," the previously outspoken Van Gaal said. "I'm focusing on this coming match.

"I put a full stop after all these issues after we invited the migrants to watch our practice session. I requested all my players also stopped doing that and put a full stop and focus on the match against Senegal."

Related items

  • Bayern Munich confirm shock appointment of Kompany Bayern Munich confirm shock appointment of Kompany

    Bayern Munich have confirmed the appointment of Vincent Kompany as their new head coach.

    Kompany has joined Bayern on a three-year deal, and comes in as Thomas Tuchel's replacement.

    The former Manchester City captain, who began his coaching career in Belgium with Anderlecht, could not keep Burnley in the Premier League in 2023-24.

    Indeed, the Clarets were relegated following a 2-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest at Turf Moor in their penultimate match of the season.

    Yet, less than two weeks after the campaign's conclusion, Kompany has been installed as boss of one of Europe's biggest clubs. 

    The 38-year-old joins Bayern after Tuchel confirmed talks over potentially reversing the decision for him and the club to part ways, which came in February, had ended.

    Bayern lost their last game of the Bundesliga season to finish in third place, having failed to win any of the four trophies they were in contention for, seeing their dominance of Germany's top tier ended by Xabi Alonso's unbeaten Bayer Leverkusen team.

    Alonso had been Bayern's primary target, but their former midfielder has elected to stay at Leverkusen for next season.

    Bayern were also linked with Roberto De Zerbi, who has just left Brighton, and Brentford coach Thomas Frank, while they were turned down by Austria coach Ralf Rangnick. Mauricio Pochettino, who left Chelsea on Monday, was also rumoured as a potential option.

    Kompany, then, is a surprise pick, but Bayern will be hoping he rediscovers the magic touch he had during his first season at Turf Moor in 2022-23, when he guided the Clarets to promotion from the Championship, earning 101 points in the process.

    However, Kompany's possession-based, front-foot approach was badly exposed in the Premier League, with Burnley winning just five games on their way to taking 24 points as they finished 19th, going back down alongside Luton Town and Sheffield United.

    He leaves Burnley having managed 96 games, winning 41 (42.7 per cent) of those matches.

    In a statement, Burnley said they were "initially confident" of keeping Kompany at the club, but claimed "the changing dynamics of the situation made this impossible". 

    "We understand the allure and prestige of a club like Bayern Munich and respect Vincent's ambition to explore new opportunities," the statement continued. 

    "We wish only the best for Vincent and would like to put on record our appreciation for his dedication every single day he was a part of this football club. 

    "Our priority remains the stability and success of Burnley, and we will continue to take the necessary steps to ensure that our ambition is realised, namely our return to the Premier League."

  • De Jong and Depay make final Netherlands squad for Euro 2024, Maatsen cut De Jong and Depay make final Netherlands squad for Euro 2024, Maatsen cut

    Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay have been included in the Netherlands' final Euro 2024 squad despite fitness concerns, with Borussia Dortmund's Ian Maatsen among those cut.

    Earlier this month, coach Ronald Koeman named a 30-man preliminary squad for the Oranje's Euro 2024 campaign, which begins against Poland on June 16.

    De Jong was included despite not playing for Barcelona since April 21 due to an ankle issue, while Atletico Madrid's Depay only recently returned to action following a six-week spell on the sidelines.

    Both players have avoided being cut from Koeman's initial selection, with Atalanta's Marten De Roon already confirmed as missing out due to a muscle injury.

    Joining De Roon in missing the tournament are Feyenoord's Quinten Timber and Sparta Rotterdam goalkeeper Nick Olij.

    Perhaps more surprisingly, Dortmund's Chelsea loanee Maatsen – who will face Real Madrid in the Champions League final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday – has been cut.

    After taking on Poland in Hamburg, the Oranje face France in a heavyweight clash in Leipzig then round off their Group D campaign against Ralf Rangnick's Austria.

    Final 26-man Netherlands squad: Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord), Mark Fleken (Brentford), Bart Verbruggen (Brighton and Hove Albion), Nathan Ake (Manchester City), Daley Blind (Girona), Stefan de Vrij (Inter), Lutsharel Geertruida (Feyenoord), Denzel Dumfries (Inter), Matthijs de Ligt (Bayern Munich), Jeremy Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen), Micky van de Ven (Tottenham), Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool), Frenkie de Jong (Barcelona), Ryan Gravenberch (Liverpool), Teun Koopmeiners (Atalanta), Tijjani Reijnders (Milan), Jerdy Schouten (PSV), Xavi Simons (RB Leipzig), Joey Veerman (PSV), Georginio Wijnaldum (Al-Ettifaq), Steven Bergwijn (Ajax), Brian Brobbey (Ajax), Memphis Depay (Atletico Madrid), Cody Gakpo (Liverpool), Donyell Malen (Borussia Dortmund), Wout Weghorst (Hoffenheim).

  • Mitrovic clinches last-gasp success for Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal Mitrovic clinches last-gasp success for Saudi Pro League champions Al-Hilal

    Aleksandar Mitrovic produced a last-gasp winner for Al-Hilal as the Saudi Pro League champions signed off with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Al-Wedha on Monday.

    Jorge Jesus' side finished the league campaign unbeaten across the 34-game season, though needed late heroics from top scorer Mitrovic to snatch all three points.

    Mohamed Kanno opened the scoring for the visiting champions in the first half but Yahya Naji's second-half leveller pegged Al-Hilal back at King Abdulaziz Sports City Stadium.

    Yet Mitrovic provided the decisive moment in the 92nd minute, converting a Mohammed Al Burayk assist for his 28th league goal of the season.

    The Serbia international ranks only behind Cristiano Ronaldo in this campaign's scoring charts, after the Al-Nassr forward claimed a piece of Saudi League history in a 4-2 victory over Al-Ittihad.

    Ronaldo moved past Abderrazak Hamdallah's 34-goal tally – in the 2018-19 season – after his deadly double took him to 35 strikes and broke the single-season scoring record in the competition.

    Victory for Al-Nassr means they finish second behind the impressive Al-Hilal, while Al-Ahli had already secured third in the standings before their 1-0 victory over Al-Fayha.

    Roberto Firmino scored the only goal of the game in that narrow triumph, finding the net after 85 minutes at Prince Abdullah al-Faisal Stadium.

    At the other end of the table, Abha Club – who had Marcel Tisserand sent off late on – suffered heartbreak on the final day after losing 2-1 to bottom-placed Al-Hazem to seal their relegation.

    Ahmed Abdu opened the scoring to boost Abha's survival hopes but second-half goals from Muhammed Badamosi and Mohammed Al Thani proved their undoing.

    Al-Akhoud beat the drop after overcoming Al-Tai, who went down with Abha and Al-Hazem, 2-0 thanks to goals from Saviour Godwin and Leandre Tawamba at Prince Abdul Aziz bin Musa'ed Stadium.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.