Who will be the goalkeeper of the Dutch national team?
We could write an entire book about Louis van Gaal's escapades. The title would be "never boring". We will be keeping it confined to Van Gaal's third coming to the Dutch National team though. As is tradition, the hype in The Netherlands is building, mostly due to Van Gaal. My uncle always says, if you put two pigeons in a race, and one of them has a shade of orange, the Dutch will go crazy for it. The Dutch always perform well at tournaments and they have an easy group to get in the flow. There is a fresh wind in every region of the football team. Be it player management, squad selection, or media relations, it's just never boring.
As always Van Gaal, the oldest coach at the WC, had a few surprises in the squad selection for the World Cup in Qatar. Or for us Sorare players: the Sorare Global Cup. (On a side note, you can join our Sorare Private League with the following code: BJWSYI) The first and most talked about surprise was Jasper Cillessen (NEC). Cillessen was the starting goalkeeper for the Netherlands at the WC'14, also with Van Gaal being the coach. The avid readers of our blog might remember my article a few months ago about group A. This is what I had to say about the Dutch NT:
Will Louis van Gaal choose Cillessen or Flekken. Cilissen recently transferred to NEC with the World Cup in his mind. He seems the first pick, but who knows what going on in Van Gaal's head?
Cillessen did not get a spot in the selection of 26 and was extremely disappointed. Also not selected is Mark Flekken from the overperforming German team Freiburg. Flekken has the most clean sheets in the Bundesliga. So arguably the two best goalkeepers in Holland are being left home to go on vacation.
Some other hot topics are: Memphis Depay (Barcelona), still injured or recovered? The fact is Louis Van Gaal already told the press he won't be playing in the first group game. Second topic: Who will be the defenders? With world-class defenders like De Ligt (Bayern), Blind (Ajax), and Stefan de Vrij (Inter) it seems reasonable that you use them. Although it seems Louis might be opting towards a backline with Ake (Man City) and Timber (Ajax) and of course captain Virgil Van Dijk (Liverpool).
But back to the goalkeeper dilemma. Van Gaal selected three goalkeepers to go to Qatar. The Ajax goalkeeper Remko Pasveer, 37 years old, has received the important number one jersey. The goalkeeper of the dutch leader, Feyenoord, Justin Bijlow (Feyenoord) gets number 13, and penalty killer Andries Noppers (Heereveen) number 23. It is questionable whether the squad numbers reveal anything about who Van Gaal will put under the crossbar in the opening match against Senegal next week. The national coach did not want to clarify that at the press conference. Bijlow was the Oranje first goalkeeper for some time. In September, the Feyenoord player was missing from Van Gaal's squad due to a lack of form. I think it might have been the ideal way for Van Gaal to trigger Bijlow to step us his game. Pasveer made his debut with Oranje during that period and is now on two internationals. Noppert has not yet played an international at all and seems to have been taken out for a possible penalty shootout series in the knockout phase. Remember the Cillessen and Tim Krul (Norwich) substitution a few years back for the penalty shootout?
It does seem Van Gaal will be choosing the players who are in a good flow.
Feyenoord coach Arne Slot touched on his goalkeeper's form during his press conference.
Justin has made an excellent impression in recent weeks. I saw it mentioned that he has the most clean sheets in the Eredivisie. He doesn't do that alone, but with the defence. Against Lazio he was great and today too he picked up a nice ball. Justin is in goal with a lot of confidence. -Arne Slot
In the match won against Lazio Roma, Bijlow prevented several seemingly certain goals. Italian newspapers were extremely positive. As a result, Feyenoord closed the Europa League group stage as group winners. I think Van Gaal will choose Bijlow as the first goalkeeper, but I've been known to make mistakes, as my girlfriend keeps reminding me. And as the great Jurgen Klopp said:
Football is a game you cannot play without making mistakes.