Netherlands – France: The Emperor Wears No Clothes As Dutch Team Outplays World Champion (2-0)
World Cup winners France showed passiveness on and off the ball, which was thoroughly exploited by the Dutch team. Trailing, France’s strategy looked especially ineffective and incoherent. In a remarkable change of events, the Dutch team is now slaying big teams one at a time, making this truly feel like a new dawn for Dutch football after missing two international tournaments in a row.
Tactical analysis by Erik Elias.
Three teams in one group means a lot is at stake very late in the group phase.
A draw in this game would be enough for France to win the group, while the Netherlands had to win in order to prevent a direct battle for relegation against Germany, Monday in Gelsenkirchen.
After experimenting with a 5-3-2 shape in six friendlies, Dutch manager Ronald Koeman decided to go into the Nations League with the most popular formation in international football: 4-2-3-1. Playmaker Frenkie de Jong and scrapper Marten de Roon form the double pivot. 4-2-3-1 is one of the most frequently occurring formations in football. The two most defensive midfielders are called a ‘double pivot’. Roaming central forward Memphis Depay is probably playing the best football of his career now, and is joined up top by journeyman Ryan Babel and PSV Eindhoven’s hotshot Steven Bergwijn.
France missed Paul Pogba, Samuel Umtiti and Benjamin Mendy. In their places, Presnel Kimpembe and Steven Nzonzi started, while Lucas Digne started as France’s left back. Based on the eleven names on the sheet, one could have easily assumed that Deschamps maintained his 4-4-2 / 4-3-3 hybrid formation . . .