the Netherlands close to the last four, slim hope for Belgium

Belgium dominated Wales in Brussels YVES HERMAN / REUTERS

The Dutch won in Poland (0-2) while the Belgians dominated Wales (2-1).

The Netherlands, victorious Friday evening in Poland (0-2), took a big step towards the “Final 4” of the League of Nations which Belgium could however prevent them from joining, the Red Devils having imposed themselves in the same time against Wales in Brussels (2-1). The Oranje, leading the pool with 13 points, will host the Red Devils (2nd, 10 points) on Sunday in Amsterdam. The Belgians will have a lot to do: to qualify for the “Final 4”, they will have to win their neighbors by four goals.

The task is akin to an impossible mission even if Roberto Martinez's men were full of confidence on Thursday by dominating the Welsh often overwhelmed by the speed of the Belgian midfielder in which Eden Hazard was established, which rarely happens to him at Real Madrid. It was above all Kevin De Bruyne who distinguished himself by opening the score with a flat foot in the 11th minute and by being the decisive passer in the 38th minute during the 2-0 signed Mitchy Batshuayi. The Belgians were less inspired at the start of the second period, surprised by a headed goal from Kieffer Moore (50th). Not enough however to deprive them of a success which leaves them with a slim hope of finishing at the top of the group.

Depay comes out injured

On the Dutch side, Louis van Gaal has established Ajax veteran Remko Pasveer (38) for the first time and seems to want to make him his number one goalkeeper at the expense of Jasper Cilessen. The Dutch coach had said on the eve of the trip to Warsaw that he would line up the eleven which should start the World Cup in Qatar. In front of Pasveer, Van Gaal lined up a five-man defense articulated around the Aké-Van Dijk-Timber axis, the offensive trident being formed by Steven Bergwijn, Memphis Depay and Cody Gakpo.

Winning formula since the latter, served by Depay, opened the scoring at the quarter of an hour. The Netherlands then suffered the game against opponents who created several chances but who folded a second time on a goal from Steven Bergwijn on the hour mark. The evening could have been perfect for the Oranje, now well placed to reach the “Final 4”, if Memphis Depay (thigh) and Teun Koopmeiners (knee) had not had to leave the field due to injury.

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