The final round of the group stages in the FIFA World Cup is all set to commence as the Netherlands takes on hosts Qatar. The Group A clash is an important one for the Dutch and although they have one foot in the knockout stages, a win would ensure a top spot in the group, provided they score more than Ecuador, who will face Senegal.
Qatar, meanwhile, were the first team to be eliminated from the competition with two defeats against Ecuador and Senegal sealing their fate. They will play for their pride as the home supporters will hope that their team can give their all against one of the world’s best sides. It has certainly been a tremendous experience for the team from Asia as they will look to exit the tournament in style. Netherlands are clearly the favorites to win this tie, although a lack of pressure to win could benefit Qatar.
When and Where?
Date: 29 November 2022.
Time: 4:00 PM CET.
Venue: Al Bayt Stadium, Qatar.
Memphis Depay replaced Steven Bergwijn in the halftime against Ecuador and could start this game week as he makes a return from injury woes in recent weeks. Other than Depay, the Dutch do not have any injury woes although Van Gaal has plenty of decisions to make as his team struggled last time out against a determined Ecuador side.
Qatar will look to rotate their side as Mohammed Muntari’s goal versus Senegal could earn him a start in their final outing of the World Cup. Like the Oranjes, Qatar also did not suffer any injuries from their first two games.
Ecuador matched Netherlands’ setup last time out and it caused massive troubles for Van Gaal’s side. Ultimately, they were lucky to get away with a draw, but the manager will hope for a reaction following a disappointing performance. Ecuador matched Netherlands’ 5-2-3 formation and looked to stop De Jong from receiving the ball and dictate the play. That seems like the strategy to stop them and Qatar will be looking to do the same.
But they have players who can turn the game in one moment. Cody Gakpo is their recent star as he has scored twice already and his movement and ball-striking ability looks dangerous. The likes of Bergwijn and Depay in attack and Berghuis in midfield will look to improve their performances and this game offers a perfect opportunity for them to bounce back.
Qatar, meanwhile, will continue with their back five formation and manager Felix Sanchez would have worked on organizing in defense, which has looked very vulnerable. Akram Afif is one player who has been impressive in both of their outings. An attacking midfielder by nature, he boasts excellent technical ability, and his team depends on him to progress and create chances.
Premier League players to watch out for
Netherlands have Virgil van Dijk at their disposal, who has been a rock-solid presence during this World Cup so far. His partnership with Nathan Ake has been excellent with both the defenders possessing brilliant defensive ability in the box and progressing the ball from the back. The two Premier League stars will continue in the backline alongside Jurrien Timber or Matthijs de Ligt and Van Gaal will rely on them if they are to go all the way.
Qatar does not have any Premier League players, although Mohammed Muntari and Akram Afif are two players to watch out for. Akram Afif, in particular, has been Qatar’s key player during this tournament and he is clearly a cut above his teammates. Afif played for Villareal in his youth days, and he is one player from Qatar who can leave this tournament with his head held high.
Netherlands predicted lineup: Noppert; Timber, Van Dijk, Ake; Dumfries, Berghuis, De Jong, Blind; Gakpo; Bergwijn, Memphis.
Qatar predicted lineup: Barsham; Miguel, Khoukhi, Hassan; Mohammad, Hatem, Madibo, Al-Haydos, Afif; Ali, Muntari.