The round of 16 game that took place on the weekend between US Men’s National Team and the Netherlands is among the most interesting clashes of the knockout stage of Qatar 2022.
While the bookmakers put listed the Netherlands as the favorite at odds but this game is closer than that , and both teams are assured of landing for the semifinals.
The USMNT caused England an awful time in their group stage match , and is likely to have come out as the most disappointed than the other team, with the draw being 0-0, but the USMNT’s victory against Iran in a high stakes match that saw a winner take all Gregg Berhalter’s squad can be effective under the most intense stress.
With the Netherlands placed eighth in FIFA’s rankings for the world which is eight places higher than the US and boasting famous talents such as Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk and Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and Memphis Depay, Saturday’s match is a difficult match for US.
Are Berhalter’s team able to make it to the final 8 for only the second time since 2002? CNN Sport takes a look.
USMNT’s main threat
The primary issue in America US is the health of the star player Christian Pulisic.
The Chelsea forward was injured in the condition he described as a pelvic injury when he scored the winning goal in the crucial match against Iran however the head coach Berhalter confirmed on that on Friday, Pulisic was in good shape to play Saturday.
Pulisic who has been dubbed “Captain America” by some US fans reported to reporters on Thursday that the “will do everything I can to be a part of this medical team to ensure that I am able to be able to play.”
Luckily, for US supporters they have the USMNT tweeted on the official website late Friday to announce that Pulisic “has been cleared to be fit to” in the match “win-or-go-home” in the match against Dutch.
“Anything could happen”
The game against Iran which was a gruelling but well-deserved win of 1-0 is bound to have been extremely pleasing to Berhalter especially since it was amidst the backdrop of a lot of tension off the field in the pre-game.
Berhalter as well as Captain Tyler Adams faced some tough questions from Iranian journalists during a raucous pre-match press conference. They fought from accusations of hypocrisy as well as indifference.
The fact that the team’s ability to stay focused and perform in the moments that matter the most will give Berhalter as well as US fans a lot of confidence heading into Saturday’s game.
“From this point, any thing could occur,” Berhalter said ahead of the game. “It’s an amazing opportunity, but it’s certainly not something that we’re taking as if it’s a privilege. We’re proud to be in the position that we’re currently in, and we’d like to stay in that position.”
While Pulisic is definitely the star of the USMNT Captain Adams is the squad’s heartbeat and engine.
The Leeds midfielder has displayed the same poise in and out of the field and has been praised for his calm and politeness when answering questions from Iranian journalists.
Berhalter The team’s captain, who is not yet conceded a single goal in open play during the World Cup, heaped praise on his “general” after his team’s win against Iran.
“Tyler plays a very particular function,” Berhalter said. “He plays the role of general and the strategist. He’s the person who is out and about, leading by example. When he speaks the people pay attention.”
If the US can play as well as they was able to do against England and for the majority of their game with Iran the possibility of advancing to the one-time World Cup quarterfinal since 2002 is in the near future.
The USMNT will be confident in facing the Netherlands team that hasn’t put it all together in Qatar.
Louis van Gaal’s squad has not impressed to date, but they did get the win in the final minutes against Senegal because of two goalskeeper mistakes by Edouard Mendy. They only managed to score one score with Ecuador in a match it was lucky not to be able to lose.
The team’s 2-0 victory against Qatar was an even more convincing win, however, it comes with the caveat of Qataris not being the best at this particular tournament.
What did the coach say?
It was a surprise to many that to see the Netherlands to be serious contenders at the World Cup and it will be pleasing to head manager van Gaal, a manager who is known for his pragmatic approach and determination, that his team qualified at the top of the group A despite not having yet clicked as a group.
The 71-year-old, who is currently on his third term as the head for the Dutch national team, fought the back of claims made by a journalist that the team’s performance against Qatar was “terribly dull” and, during his press conference before the game to prepare to announce the quarterfinals, praised an “fanatical and skilled” US team.
“I have learned from my experiences that playing against countries like those of the United States and Australia, which we faced during this year’s World Cup in Brazil, are always difficult,” van Gaal said on Thursday.
“They have a lot of energy and are good in the field.
“The USA has demonstrated that they have an outstanding team, and I would consider it to be one of the top teams. It’s a team that has been fine-tuned however, it’s not something that we cannot beat,” van Gaal added on Friday, according to Reuters.
“The USA that is a extremely energetic team has physically powerful players. They are extremely difficult to defeat You can see by their performance, but we’ll do all we can to beat the USA this is it.”
Netherlands” key threat
The Netherlands only managed to get eight shots at goal in the three group stage games but scored five goals, thanks in large part to the star youngster Cody Gakpo.
Senegal and Netherlands advance into World Cup knockout stages
The 23-year-old is likely to have significantly improved his transfer worth this tournament much to the joy of Dutch club PSV Eindhoven, scoring his three goals using his left and right foot and head . He is leading his team in the 2022 World Cup golden boot race along with Kylian Mbappe Marcus Rashford, Alvaro Morata and Enner Valencia.
According to reports, Manchester United are among the clubs that are chasing Gakpo’s signature in the wake of the World Cup and fellow Dutch superstar van Dijk said the winger’s potential for success could be a reason for him to “go all the way to the moon, and then back.”
“He is an excellent player and a great boy,” the Liverpool defender declared. “What we observe in the gym is what you can see on the field. There’s still plenty of potential, and I’m hoping the player can continue to show it to us. We are very pleased with his performance.
Van Gaal added: “Things may be different however Cody is everything you need to be a star. He is a great person to be a star player because he’s open to everything and everything.”
The team was unable to overcome the athletic Ecuador team, a danger the USA can also be a threat in the coming game. Netherlands will require Gakpo to be at his peak as well as van Dijk and midfielder de Jong to overcome an extremely tough test against the Americans.