Netherlands show steely resolve to see off Swedes

By Sports Desk July 03, 2019

It was not total football that saw Netherlands advance to a Women's World Cup final against the United States, but a cocktail of grit, determination and staying power.

Sweden head coach Peter Gerhardsson had spoken of his admiration for Dutch football ahead of Wednesday's second semi-final in Lyon.

He became "incredibly fascinated" with their style after witnessing the 1974 World Cup final between the men's teams of West Germany and Netherlands, the latter led by Johan Cruyff and the Total Football philosophy that transformed the sport and was adopted and adapted by many of the future teams that would come.

This was not a Netherlands performance that adhered to such principles, though Gerhardsson should have had grudging respect for the way the Oranje secured a 1-0 win over his Swedish side after extra time.

There were two fine saves in either half of normal time from Sari van Veenendaal – who pushed Nilla Fischer's effort onto a post when Sweden were beginning to take charge at the start of the second period – and countless fine last-ditch interventions and tackles from centre-back Stefanie van der Gragt and left-back Merel van Dongen.

A cynical foul by Sherida Spitse even enraged Gerhardsson on the sidelines in the 85th minute. This was certainly not the 1974 team he fell in love with.

"I haven't seen sound defending all tournament - maybe we need more flashiness but this is the type of defending which will win you tournaments," said BBC pundit and former USA goalkeeper Hope Solo at half-time.

This was one for the pragmatists rather than the purists as Netherlands displayed a steely resolve before finding an extra-time winner with a finish from outside the box by Jackie Groenen.

The Dutch will need to show more of such resilience if they are to stop USA from retaining their title at the same stadium on Sunday.

They certainly have the potential to do so. Vivianne Miedema is her nation's all-time top scorer and struck 22 times in 20 league games for Arsenal last season, while Lieke Martens is on Barcelona's books and Shanice van de Sanden has won back-to-back Champions Leagues with Lyon.

This was not a night for any of that trio. Miedema barely got a sniff, Martens, who had been carrying a toe injury since the last-16 win over Japan, was withdrawn at half-time and Van de Sanden was dropped to the bench after a disappointing tournament.

Instead it was an evening where the defence made their case. Right-back Desiree van Lunteren had eight tackles and as many interceptions, impressing deep into extra time as she dashed back to stop a cross coming in.

An assignment with Megan Rapinoe may be awaiting for Van Lunteren on Sunday, but Euro 2017 champions Netherlands will have belief they can upset the odds having won 12 consecutive matches at major tournaments.

The last of seven European quarter-finalists standing, Netherlands are one win away from securing back-to-back tournament titles having never played in a major competition until a decade ago.

Cruyff and the total football team of 74 came up short in that World Cup final Gerhardsson witnessed and USA will be big favourites to win it all again at the weekend.

But, as Solo herself noted, this type of defending just might win a championship.

Related items

  • Ballon d'Or nominee Alex Morgan expecting first child Ballon d'Or nominee Alex Morgan expecting first child

    Alex Morgan has revealed she is pregnant just three months after helping the United States to Women's World Cup glory.

    The Orlando Pride striker is expecting her first child with husband Servando Carrasco, the LA Galaxy midfielder, with a daughter due in April 2020.

    Galaxy congratulated the pair on their news with a Twitter post on Wednesday, before Morgan uploaded pictures and a message to her Instagram page.

    "We are already in love and we haven't even met her yet," she wrote. "Newest member of the Carrasco family, coming soon."

    Morgan scored six goals at this year's World Cup - five of them coming in a record 13-0 win against Thailand - as USA defended their title.

    She was nominated this week for the 2019 Ballon d'Or Femenin.

    The 30-year-old has not featured for Orlando since suffering an injury 13 minutes into a 2-1 victory over Chicago Red Stars in late August.

    Morgan revealed last month the knee issue had ended her National Women's Soccer League season early.

  • FIFA 20: Griezmann and Di Maria star in FUT Team of the Week FIFA 20: Griezmann and Di Maria star in FUT Team of the Week

    Antoine Griezmann scored his fourth goal in eight LaLiga appearances for Barcelona as the Spanish champions beat Eibar 3-0, and he leads the line in this week's FIFA 20 FUT Team of the Week.

    The France World Cup winner is joined by an all-star cast in this week's line-up, including Paris Saint-Germain's in-form winger Angel Di Maria.

    After scoring twice in his side's 4-1 victory at Nice in Ligue 1, Di Maria was in scintillating form as PSG beat Club Brugge 5-0 in the Champions League.

    Not all of this week's selection are competing towards the top of their respective domestic leagues, with Watford's Abdoulaye Doucoure earning a place for his goal-scoring performance in the Premier League basement club's 1-1 draw with Tottenham.

    Monaco are 14th in Ligue 1 and they will need more of the same from Wissam Ben Yedder if they are to turn their season around - he scored a brace in their 3-2 win over Rennes.

    Find out who else made FIFA's Ultimate Team line-up below.

    FUT Team of the Week

    GK: Stephane Ruffier (Saint-Etienne) - 86

    CB: Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund) - 88

    CB: Marcos Alonso (Chelsea) - 84

    CB: Yerry Mina (Everton) - 82

    CM: Dani Parejo (Valencia) - 87

    CAM: Taison (Shakhtar Donetsk) - 84

    CM: Abdoulaye Doucoure (Watford) - 84

    RW: Radja Nainggolan (Cagliari) - 85

    LW: Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona) - 90

    RW: Angel Di Maria (PSG) - 87

    ST: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco) - 85


    GK: Alfred Gomis (Dijon) - 81

    CB: William Troost-Ekong (Udinese) - 81

    CDM: Tomas Soucek (Slavia Prague) - 82

    LM: Petros Mantalos (AEK Athens) - 81

    ST: Lautaro Martinez (Inter) - 84

    ST: Angel (Getafe) - 82

    LW: Jack Grealish (Aston Villa) - 81


    LM: Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb) - 79

    LM: Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders) - 78

    ST: Andreas Cornelius (Parma) - 80

    ST: Daniel Candeias (Genclerbirligi) - 79

    ST: Henok Goitom (AIK) - 78

  • Klopp is the best coach in the world, says former Dortmund star Freund Klopp is the best coach in the world, says former Dortmund star Freund

    Jurgen Klopp is the best football coach in the world because of the connection he establishes with players on an emotional level, according to Steffen Freund.

    Klopp won The Best FIFA Men's Coach award for 2019 after leading Liverpool to Champions League glory and a club-record Premier League points tally of 97 last season.

    The 52-year-old has helped the Reds build up a sizeable early advantage in this season's title race, too, with last Sunday's 1-1 draw at Manchester United ending an eight-game winning streak this term that has seen them move six points clear of City at the top of the table.

    Former Borussia Dortmund star Freund watched Klopp work magic at his old club between 2008 and 2015, winning back-to-back Bundesliga titles, the 2012 DFB-Pokal and reaching the 2013 Champions League final.

    While he admires BVB boss Lucien Favre, who ran Bayern Munich close in last term's title tussle, Freund would always prefer to see Klopp in charge at Signal Iduna Park.

    "That is, of course, the wonderful thing when you compare the coaches: Lucien Favre and Jurgen Klopp," Freund told Omnisport, speaking courtesy of the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour, driven by the new Nissan Juke.

    "Favre is calm and well-balanced, with a good tactical instinct. But I would always prefer Jurgen Klopp, because he is the coach who can also reach players emotionally because he himself is like that, and because he knows that the day has come when he will sweep the players along with special moments, through his emotions.

    "And that's why Jurgen is the best in the world right now."

    Freund thinks the "passion" Klopp has helped to instil within his Liverpool squad will serve them well in the title race - particularly when their form deserts them.

    "If you look at the Premier League so far, everything is playing for Liverpool," said Freund. "Even their own games are won late. It's not always good football, but they have played with a lot of passion. Jurgen Klopp also exemplifies this passion.

    "They also have the necessary luck at the moment, but because I also played in the Premier League for five years and I also worked there as an assistant coach [with Tottenham], there will come a phase where Liverpool will lose.

    "It looks so safe and clear at the moment, but that's not how they play. And then the question is how quickly they get back into the corner. Along with Manchester City, Liverpool are favourites for the title."

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.