Netherlands are not 'top of the world', warns Van Gaal

By Sports Desk September 01, 2021

Louis van Gaal has warned his Netherlands side that they still have some way to go before they can consider themselves "top of the world".

The Oranje drew 1-1 with Norway in World Cup qualifying Group G on Wednesday in Van Gaal's first match back in his third spell as coach of his country.

Erling Haaland opened the scoring at the Ullevaal Stadion in Oslo, but Davy Klaassen equalised in the first half.

The result leaves both the Netherlands and Norway a point behind Group G leaders Turkey, who were held to a 2-2 draw by Montenegro.

Van Gaal was not happy with his side's display and urged them to be more creative.

"We may think that this Dutch team is the top of the world, but it is not," he told NOS. "We have to function as a team. Norway has played very well as a team. Then you have to show the creativity that we lacked today.

"We lost the ball too carelessly in situations that we didn't have to. That is because the opposing team has defended in a very compact space. Then it is not so easy. Then you have to be very creative and firm on the ball, but we were not.

"I think Norway did a fantastic job. We were careless and that should not have been allowed, but that is also due to Norway's playing style.

"We have to make sure that we can play the ball around. I also said that at half-time we had to show courage and wait for the moment that we could play in depth, but we didn't succeed."

Van Gaal opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Steven Berghuis and full debutant Cody Gakpo starting either side of Memphis Depay in attack.

Berghuis was replaced by Donyell Malen at half-time following a disappointing opening 45 minutes that saw the Ajax man fail to register a shot on goal.

Van Gaal was less than impressed by his side's wide players, but insists it is too early to abandon the formation.

"I think it's going too far to say after one game that we can't play 4-3-3," he added.

"That has to do with the form of the day of the players. But I said in advance that we are meagre at the outsides. That has become apparent today.

"If you are careless, you will not reach the goal.

"Working with young people keeps me young, that's why I like it. Also the tension of the competition. Too bad the execution was not so good."

The Netherlands are in action again on Saturday when they host Montenegro. 

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