Although Qatar is the least opponent for the Orange at the World Cup on paper, Nordin Amrabat is careful not to underestimate. It will not be that easy, although he does think that the Netherlands will reach the semi-finals. Gertjan Verbeek also expects that the group stage should not cause any problems.
On Friday it became clear that the Netherlands will play against Senegal, Ecuador and host country Qatar in the group stage of the World Cup. African opponents are normally the Netherlands. The Orange squad played against Morocco in 1994, against Ivory Coast in 2006 and against Cameroon in 2010 and won every time. Ecuador and Qatar are easier opponents on paper. “Now you can grow nicely in the tournament,” says Amrabat.
“Xavi got that tiki-taka in it”
Qatar is least appealing as a football country, but according to Amrabat should not be underestimated. “Last year (on behalf of the Saudi Al-Nassr, ed.) I played against Al-Sadd. There are eight or nine boys who play in the national team. Technically, those guys are really good. Xavi has that tiki- taka in it and they have a lot of naturalized boys. It’s certainly not a cat in the cup for the Netherlands.”
“Yeah, of course they have to come through,” Amrabat immediately adds. “Senegal has a physically strong team and is the winner of the Africa Cup, but the Netherlands simply has to win three times. Then they have the number two of Group B (in which England, America, Iran and an as yet unknown opponent play, ed. ) and they are already in the quarterfinals. England will be first there. The Netherlands must at least reach the quarterfinals, then you have to be a bit lucky with the draw. I do expect the Netherlands to reach the semifinals.”
“Van Gaal has luck hanging on his ass again,” says Verbeek. “If you’re in Pot 2, you can just do worse. The home country normally has an advantage because they organize it, but I can’t imagine Qatar putting together a World Cup-friendly team. If this keeps you awake at night …And yes, if you really want to make a statement, then you have to roll up Qatar 6-0.”
‘Senegal can be the most difficult opponent’
Senegal and Ecuador should not cause any problems, according to Verbeek. “Those are not top countries, although Senegal is a very dangerous outsider. They had a difficult qualification, but they did win the Africa Cup. That says a lot about the strength of Senegal. I think they will compete with the Netherlands for the first place in the group. Senegal has a few good players who play in the top of Europe.”
“I actually know the least about Ecuador. All in all, the Netherlands should have no problems with this, after that it depends a bit on who you play against and the level of the day. And don’t underestimate the temperature. winter, it’s still warm there.”
And what about the other countries? There doesn’t seem to be a real Pool of Death at the World Cup. “As you see it now, it all went fairly well, you would almost say,” jokes Verbeek. “Spain – Germany will be a tough game and the group of Belgium is not sick either. Canada is a surprise, Morocco qualified without Ziyech and Mazraoui and Croatia was in the World Cup final. I think that is a very tough group. we still hit it with Senegal, Ecuador and Qatar.”
If it is up to Verbeek, Germany is again one of the title favorites. “I think that Germany made a very strong impression. And France speaks for itself, but the big problem there is that it is not always one whole. Too much division in the group of players. That is the strong point of the Netherlands. must be played in a new system or not, everyone is behind it. Van Gaal has done that well.”
“I think it’s only going to get really fun from the quarterfinals”
“The English competition is very strong, but it is dominated by foreigners. It is always just not at a tournament. England will certainly make it to the quarterfinals, but I don’t see them winning the World Cup,” says Verbeek, who does not expect too much either. from Portugal. “I hope not, but Portugal has been too dependent on Ronaldo in recent years. I don’t think he will do it again at such a World Cup. He has to have moments and used to be able to go to the team on his own to a higher level, but now also depends on the players around him. It is now more of a pure finisher and not a preparer who takes the team in tow, he could do that a few years ago.”
“For Messi it will be his last World Cup. If he wants to make himself immortal, then he has to rise above himself and become world champion with Argentina. With Brazil, the question is whether it will be a well-oiled machine or whether there will be eleven good football players on the field to stand.”
“I think it only gets really fun from the quarterfinals on,” Amrabat concludes. “Germany will do very well, but I think the same of the Netherlands. I expect that they will certainly make it to the semi-finals.”
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