1 of 6Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk
ZEIST (VG) Two tournaments without a Dutch participation followed a belly kick in the quarter-final against the Czech Republic this summer. Before the group final against Norway, the Dutch fear a new failure.
It would be a complete disaster, says Simon Zwartkreis in soccer magazine Voetbal International.
The figurines from the greatest eras in the Netherlands – with legends such as Johan Cruyff, Rinus Michaels, Frank Rijkaard and Marco van Basten – are the first to meet you as you enter the ostentatious and somewhat ostentatious training facility in Zest, an hour from Rotterdam.
However, few remember the heyday of recent years. It was followed by bronze in the 2014 World Cup with the European Championship and the World Cup without the Netherlands, ahead of the Czech Patrik Szek and Partners. He made a surprise stop at this summer’s European Championships.
– The last time we enjoyed it with the national team was with Van Gaal in 2014. He referred to that period today. Hopefully this will be his last trick and he can do it again, Zwartkruis tells VG.
1 of 2Photo: Bjørn S. Delebekk, VG
The Netherlands had a foot and a half in Qatar when Norway stumbled at home to Latvia, but a few hours later the Dutch missed their two-goal lead against Montenegro and took just one point from Svartville.
– They played a stupid match against Montenegro. I saw that one of the coaches watched the Norway game before the warm-up and realized they played 0-0. Everyone thought they had qualified. They lost everything, it was so stupid. They were very disappointed and very angry after the match, says Willem Visers in Voetskrant to VG.
After the Montenegrin accident, the Netherlands look no less fragile after coach Louis van Gaal fell on a bicycle and injured his thigh.
The 70-year-old arrived at the training ground in a golf cart and had to stand at the press conference seated in a wheelchair at a TV screen over a video link.
– The boys and the staff want me here. Yes, then I should stay, clearly animated Louis van Gaal said in an interview with Dutch NOS. He held back his tears and admitted that he was an “emotional person”.
It has already been decided that the match will move to the empty stands due to Corona. In addition, the Netherlands lost winger Stephen Berguis, midfielder Stefan de Vrij and first goalkeeper Justin Bigelow in recent days.
– It’s Murphy’s Law. That the coach falls down and ends up in a wheelchair is part of that. I get messages from people who are afraid of that. Are we there that everything is going well again? Simon Zwartkruis rhetorically asks and wonders.
Where are you compared to 10-20 years ago?
This is a question we all want answered. In a team game, you don’t meet the best teams. One of the former coaches, Ronald Koeman, said he expects this generation to be on top in Qatar, said Zwartkruis.
Willems Vissers believes Dutch football is ‘on the road to recovery’, but this frequent fading could be a mental aspect for the Netherlands.
– There was a crisis mood in the Netherlands. Everyone thought we should do everything differently, have other coaches, other types of coaches… Now we’re back and doing well, but no one knows exactly why, says Visers – and continues:
In Holland, we always think we are the best, so we only listen to ourselves. But now we can listen to any German, anything, maybe a Norwegian. We listen to others and do better in Europe, he says, noting Ajax’s impressive performance in the Champions League this season.
Zwartkruis thinks the Netherlands is a little behind the best.
– We are a “dark horse” and not among the best. This is still the situation today. We don’t have 30 big players like France and Brazil. He says Holland will always be an outsider.
In Holland, everyone always expects us to be the absolute best. The situation today is a good example of this. Last month we beat Turkey 6-1 in a great match. It was a show. Nobody talks about it anymore. Now everyone is talking about Montenegro and how unfortunate it was. This is how we look at football. Either the seventeen million celebrate together, says Zwartkruis, or all seventeen million are screaming about how foolish it is.
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