Turkey v Netherlands: Van Gaal’s men looking to destroy Terim’s World Cup dream
Despite having already qualified for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, the Netherlands still have a significant say in the fight for the playoff place in Group D. More importantly, though, a convincing performance is required from Louis van Gaal’s team as they look to show their true quality after the dismal displays they have put on in recent weeks.
That Van Gaal’s men could only record a 2-2 draw against Estonia in early September was bad enough, the fact they didn’t deserve even a point from the match was utterly humiliating. That was only exacerbated by the stuttering performance against Andorra, from which the Oranje managed to scrape through with a 2-0 thanks to a Robin van Persie brace. Although those four points confirmed a place in Brazil next year for the Dutch, the displays generated more fear among the Netherlands natives than they did pride and joy. The lack of fluidity and momentum in the team was obvious, while Van Gaal still hasn’t decided on his first-team.
The thrashing of Hungary was a marked improvement on last month’s displays, but there wasn’t much to take from the game from a Dutch perspective as the quality of their opponents meant the result flattered the performance. Van Persie’s hat-trick saw him overtake Patrick Kluivert to become the country’s highest ever goal scorer, while Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben, Jeremain Lens and Kevin Strootman also got on the scoresheet and Szilard Devecseri scored an own goal to round things off. But it wasn’t the most enticing, electrifying showing from Van Gaal’s men. They needed only ten shots on target to score their eight goals, a remarkable return, but one which comes against a frail defence which was backup to a feeble attack which created very little.
While the Oranje have their place in Brazil confirmed, they are still to play a key part in who finishes second in the group and thus progresses to the playoffs. With Turkey and Romania even on points and Hungary just two points behind, the chase for second place is incredibly tight with one more game to go.
Hungary and Romania both have home ties against the group’s interminable whipping boys, Andorra and Estonia, respectively, and Turkey’s fate comes down to their clash with the table toppers. It will be a complete catastrophe for Hungary and Romania should each team not take all three points tomorrow night, so Fatih Terim’s men simply have to emerge victorious from the tie in Istanbul.
While the Oranje don’t have much to play for realistically speaking when it comes to this game, there is pressure on them to put in a convincing display to round off the qualifying campaign, which has seemingly just fizzed out anti-climactically. However, their 2-0 win over Turkey in Amsterdam earlier in the campaign was less than spectacular. Turkey missed some clear opportunities and the three points for the Netherlands were only secured through an injury time goal from Luciano Narsingh.
The importance of this match will spur the Crescent Stars on as they look to book a place in the playoffs. They approach this match in great form, having won each of their last three qualifiers, scoring nine goals and conceding none. Burak Yilmaz and Umut Bulut, who have combined to score seven goals between them in the last three qualifiers, are both available for this match and will definitely cause a lot of problems for the Dutch back line.
Van Gaal has to make some changes in the midfield, having confirmed that Strootman’s injury will see him replaced by Leroy Fer, while Jordy Clasie could Nigel de Jong’s place as the Milan midfielder is suspended. While this doesn’t necessarily weaken the midfield, it unsettles it to an extent. Clasie hasn’t played for the national team since March this year, while Fer’s 10 minute cameo on Friday night was his first appearance since the 50 minutes he played against Turkey in September 2010.
With Turkey so desperate to get the win, they will put the trio of Fer, Clasie and Sneijder under immense pressure and look to unleash the power of Yilmaz and Bulut, while captain Arda Turan will ensure Daryl Janmaat has a tough night down the left wing.
With a greater goal difference than Romania, any sort of win should be enough to get the job done and Terim is sure his players recognise the importance of this fixture and are prepared to face the European giants.
“The latest stop in our journey is the Netherlands game and hopefully it will not end there, meaning we’ll reach a new destination in the play-offs,” said the Turkey boss. “But the Netherlands match is one of the most important in the history of Turkish football. My players are ready; nobody should be worried about that.”
Nobody except Louis van Gaal, that is. And with confidence in the national team so low despite their qualification for Brazil next summer, the Netherlands coach has to get the best out of his team against Turkey to lift the spirits of the country to get the 16 million amateur national team managers in Holland off of his back.