Heading into this game it felt like the Netherlands had a little bit more momentum than a lot of people had initially given them credit for. Their win over Germany served as a major confidence booster and proved once and for all that they are ‘back’ in the realms of international football. Last night, they were able to prove that yet again as they managed to hold local rivals Belgium to a 1-1 draw.
Given that it was a friendly you’d expect both teams to rest certain players, but while many substitutions were made, that didn’t really prove to be the case. They both wanted a win as badly as the other, which makes sense, given that bragging rights are an important thing in European football – especially when it comes to nations who don’t play each other all too often.
Alas, the quality of the Belgians saw them take an early lead through Dries Mertens, and they threatened to run away with it as they looked to build on their lead almost immediately. The goal itself was a nice finish with Dries curling the ball delightfully into the top corner, but they seemed to sit back after failing to get the second goal and that opened up the door for some complacency.
Six months ago the Dutch probably wouldn’t have been able to take advantage of that opportunity, but this is a different team now. Arnaut Groeneveld managed to score his first goal for the senior team just before the half hour mark, which somewhat stunned the hosts as they seemed to think they were going to cruise towards a victory after going ahead early on. As we all know, though, that doesn’t always guarantee success, and you only need to ask England following their World Cup heartbreak against Croatia for an example of that.
The game had its moments from there and it was certainly feisty, but in the end, both teams wound up sharing the spoils and will now be able to reflect on things with plenty of time left to go before the UEFA Euro 2020 qualification period really heats up.
Belgium: Mignolet (6), Alderweireld (6.5), Boyata (5.5), Denayer (6), Castagne (6), Tielemans (6.5), Witsel (6), Chadli (6.5), Lukaku (6), Mertens (7), E.Hazard (6), Meunier (N/A), Carrasco (N/A), Batshuayi (6), Praet (6), T.Hazard (6.5)
Netherlands: Cillessen (6.5), Dumfries (6), de Ligt (6.5), de Vrij (6), Ake (6.5), Danjuma Groeneveld (7), van de Beek (6.5), Blind (6), Strootman (6.5), Promes (6), Depay (6.5), Hateboer (6.5), Rosario (6), Vilhena (6), van Aanholt (6.5), de Jong (N/A), Bergwijn (N/A)
Goals: Mertens :: Danjuma Groeneveld
Yellow Cards: Boyata, Hateboer, Vilhena
Red Cards: N/A
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