Van Gaal had put together a completely new team compared to the victory over Belgium. It was the first time since September 2010, when under Bert van Marwijk, that an Orange team was thrown into the mixer so completely.
Van Gaal indicated in advance that he could not do otherwise due to the heavy schedule of four games within eleven days at the end of the season. “UEFA tells us to play four games in eleven days. I’ve said several times that I think it’s ridiculous. It has to do with that.”
Wales defender Rhys Norrington-Davies (R) tries it with his head.
Two debutants appeared in the line-up of the Dutch national team: PSV player Jordan Teze and FC Bologna player Jerdy Schouten. Teze was the 101st PSV player in Orange, making the Eindhoven club the third largest supplier of Orange after Ajax (129 internationals) and Feyenoord (107 internationals). In the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum, Stefan de Vrij was the captain in Cardiff, while the goal was defended this time by Mark Fleks.
The wingback positions were filled by Hans Hateboer and Tyrell Malacia. Matthijs de Ligt formed the three-man defense together with Teze and De Vrij. In the midfield, Teun Koopmeiners formed a couple with debutant Schouten, while in the front there were basic places reserved for Cody Gakpo, Noa Lang and Wout Weghorst.
The national coach did not want to know anything about the concept of B-choice and pointed out that the base against Wales had won in training matches against the usual Orange base last week. That gave him the confidence that a good international match could also be won in this composition.
Matthijs de Ligt (right) competes for the ball with Connor Roberts.
Of course, it also played a role that Wales did not take office with the strongest eleven. Only four of the basic players of the Welsh team, which secured a World Cup qualification against Ukraine last Sunday, have now returned to kick-off. Star player Gareth Bale, among others, took a seat on the bench in Cardiff.
Van Gaal’s confidence was not lived up to in the first half. It looked dull and uncomfortable what Orange-B showed in Cardiff. The build-up went smoothly. The creativity of players like Frenkie de Jong and Steven Berghuis was sorely missed. As a right-footed defender left central in the three-man defence, Matthijs de Ligt struggled with the passing. Debutant Jordan Teze had an unfortunate start. The PSV player already received a yellow card after three minutes, when he put a solid block on Daniel James. He set a dubious record. Teze entered the books as the Orange debutant who received the fastest yellow card. Until now, Orlando Trustfull had that dubious honor.
The Dutch team hardly came into danger in the saltless first half, while Wales remarkably often took the initiative and also fired on the Orange goal via headers and free kicks. After a good interception by Teun Koopmeiners, the Atalanta Bergamo player got a chance, but his bet was cracked. PSV player Cody Gakpo signed for the most dangerous Orange moment of the first half. Just before half time, after a good individual action, he saw the ball narrowly go wide through the body of a Welshman.
In the second half, the Orange squad managed to get a little more grip on the game and it quickly became 0-1 for the team of national coach Louis van Gaal. It was Koopmeiners who left the Welsh goalkeeper Adam Davies – he had replaced his colleague Danny Ward at half time – without a chance with a low slide. The assist was from debutant Schouten. For Koopmeiners it meant his first international goal in his seventh international match.
National coach Louis van Gaal with assistant coach Edgar Davids.
Action Images via Reuters
Not much happened in Cardiff after that goal, where Wales were unable to make a fist from an attacking point of view. Van Gaal also brought in two fresh forces in the persons of Steven Bergwijn and Frenkie de Jong. Gakpo and Schouten had to make way for them. In the final phase, De Ligt had to be substituted with an injury, so that Bruno Martins Indi made his return to the national team after five years of absence in Orange. The 35th international match for the AZ defender.
Wales national team coach Rob Page brought in eye-catcher Gareth Bale for the last fifteen minutes, much to the enthusiasm of the home fans. It was 1-1 in stoppage time, when Hateboer was knocked in the air by Norrington-Davies, but in the end Weghorst ensured with the late winning goal that Van Gaal could still cheer in Cardiff. He headed well on a cross from Tyrell Malacia.