Add a few million more to Gakpo’s price! Winners, losers and Netherlands ratings as Mendy’s horror show delivers victory for Van Gaal’s men against Senegal
For every hero there is a villain, and if Gakpo’s day summed up the life of an attacker, then Mendy’s was the perfect counterweight. Who would be the goalkeeper? The Chelsea man was largely quiet for 84 minutes but his first misjudgment proved costly as he fled his line to fend off De Jong’s delivery and didn’t go near it, Gakpo heading for the net unsupervised. There would also be another mistake for the Netherlands’ second goal, Mendy weakly pushing Memphis Depay’s tame shot straight into the path of Klaassen, who happily accepted his gift. 2-0, game over. Having recently lost his club spot to Kepa Arrizabalaga, it was not a night to rebuild Mendy’s confidence. He will have to put it behind him quickly, otherwise his side will be on the way back.
Mathijs de Ligt:
It’s fair to say that Louis van Gaal has no shortage of options to play on the right of his three-man central defence. For this game he selected De Ligt, ahead of the experienced Stefan de Vrij and the promising Jurrien Timber, but the Bayern Munich man endured a difficult night against Ismaila Sarr. He was constantly troubled by the pace and running power of the Watford man, committing more fouls than any Dutch player. One of them, at the start of the second half, earned him a yellow card and left him walking the disciplinary tightrope for the rest of the group. The Netherlands, in fairness, finished with a clean sheet, but Timber and De Vrij will feel they are in with a tee shot against Ecuador. De Ligt expected better of himself.
We already knew that, but this game only served to point it out; Senegal need Sadio Mane. Wrong. Aliou Cissé’s side largely matched the Dutch. They were strong defensively, with Kalidou Koulibaly particularly good, and had plenty of the ball in midfield, with Idrissa Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate and Nampalys Mendy bright and energetic. But in the last third? Not a lot. Senegal managed 15 shots but only four on target. Sarr was good, denied a goal by a good block from Virgil van Dijk, but much of his best work was wide of the mark, and neither Dia nor Krepin Diatta offered much. It’s a tournament of big-name absences, of course, with Karim Benzema, Reece James, Paul Pogba, Timo Werner and N’Golo Kante all on the absentee list. Mane’s absence, however, looks to be the most costly one, in terms of his team’s prospects.