Willem van Hanegem believes that expectations surrounding the Dutch national team at the World Cup should remain tempered. The columnist of the General Newspaper saw the Netherlands played ‘color blind’ in the friendly against Germany (1-1) and therefore does not find the new 3-5-2 system of national coach Louis van Gaal impressive or revolutionary. Van Hanegem believes that there is too much jubilation about the so-called favorable draw, but sees Orange only guaranteed to win against one opponent in the group stage.
The Curve saw the game of Orange against the Germans in the first hour with sorrow.
“We were played color blind, with our new ingenious game system. And the Germans still lacked about five permanent staff, huh? Yes, we came back in the last twenty minutes, but then the big change in friendly matches starts. Then you can’t more serious judgment. Unless it works out in your favor, apparently.”
Moreover, the 3-5-2 system – with which Van Gaal abandons the ‘classic Dutch school’ of 4-3-3 – is not as revolutionary as it seems, according to Van Hanegem. “I think Louis van Gaal is a nice guy. And it’s not his fault that we are all chasing him again. But that system with three central defenders, they’ve been playing that all over the world for years? Wim Jansen did it in already in the 90s, when he took Feyenoord under his wing. But if we put pressure now, it suddenly becomes ‘LvG’ pressure.”
Van Hanegem sees an unhealthy ‘Van Gaal obsession’ developing in the Netherlands. “Mark Flek is a Van Gaal keeper. A real Van Gaal striker must also be added in the coming months, he probably means (the national coach, ed.) Ajax reserve Brian Brobbey. Senegal is really not shocked by our new system and that so-called ‘LvG pressure’. Otherwise they will shine a laser pointer in your eyes from the stands for another fifteen minutes,” Van Hanegem refers to the World Cup play-off match between Senegal and Egypt (1-0) of earlier this week, when Mohamed Salah was hindered in the deciding penalty shootout.
The Curve therefore predicts a difficult group stage for the Dutch national team at the World Cup. “It will be possible to win against Qatar”, he thinks, “but Ecuador will be a tough job. And Senegal is even more than that. Those guys are so incredibly strong. And they have great players. every duel hurt.” The Orange squad will play the very first game of the World Cup on November 21 against Senegal; Ecuador and host country Qatar will follow as opponents on November 25 and November 29, respectively.