UEFA Nations League 2018-19, Netherlands 2-0 France: 5 takeaways from the match
The penultimate clash in Group A of League 1 involved a battle between two young sides, the Dutch and the French.
The reigning world champions only needed a point to go through to the semi-final stage, but just like their counterparts in Group C, Spain, they also fell to a defeat, with all to play for on the final matchday.
The 2 nil defeat means that the Germans are now relegated. The semifinal spot is still up for grabs, and a draw in Germany will mean that the Dutch go through. The relatively young and inexperienced Dutch side schooled the World Champions. Their main players couldn't make any notable impact on the game.
Georginio Wijnaldum put the home team in front at the stroke of half-time, and The Netherlands tried to seal the game multiple times, but it was late into stoppage time before Memphis Depay scored from the spot.
France now has to hope that the lacklustre Germans defeat the Dutch. Didier Deschamps started with the unimpressive Giroud once again, keeping young Ousmane Dembele on the bench, raising a few eyebrows, and the preference of Kimpembe over Laporte was as questionable.
We talk the game over in 5 points.
#5 Big names fail to impress
It was revealed a few days back that Raphael Varane and Kylian Mbappe are at second and third spot respectively after half the Ballon d'Or votes had been counted. Antoine Griezmann will also find himself in the top 10.
The big name players are bound to make an impact, but none of the three star players made a difference. Raphael Varane carried his poor league form into the national side. He was the senior player at the defensive end, but he was sloppy at the back, and failed to stop the menacing attacks coming in from the resurgent Dutch team.
Kylian Mbappe was having a poor day. Coming up against the strong forces of the Dutch defense was a completely different experience than his routine Ligue 1 defenses, and he couldn't do much on the ball.
He was always under the watchful eyes of Matthijs De Ligt, and couldn't drag the defense out of position. Of the three dribbles he tried, he was dispossessed on all occasions. He had one wayward shot at goal, and that capped off a poor night.
Antoine Griezmann had only one early header at goal. He was contributing a bit more to the defense than Mbappe, but failed in his primary role of a #10. He had no dribbles, and only two total shots at goal.
A bad day for those who are going to be labeled the best of 2018.
Aside those three, the other star players like Nzonzi, Kante, and Matuidi had no answers to the young Dutch midfield. All in all, the big names failed to make even a bit of impact.