Netherlands take a deep breath – play-off ground clear with Austria

Netherlands take a deep breath - play-off ground clear with Austria

After missing out on the 2018 World Cup, the Dutch are allowed to show their skills again in Qatar. Even the otherwise tough-looking Louis van Gaal revealed an insight into his feelings after a certain spot for the final round in 2022. “The mood was a little bad the next day in Montenegro, then I was afraid it could be completely wrong,” the 70-year-old said after Tuesday evening’s 2-0 win against Norway.

Due to 2–2 in Montenegro, it was forbidden for the Dutch to lose in a qualifying finish. When the big setbacks had already begun, Steven Bergwijn (84th) and Memphis Depay (91st) scored decisive goals and assurances for Van Gaal, who was sitting in a wheelchair with a hip injury, in an empty In Rotterdam in front of the background. Captain Virgil van Dijk spoke of a fully deserved participation in the World Cup. “Of course you don’t like being in this kind of situation. But it was like that and we showed our character,” said the Liverpool star.

While the Netherlands may already be planning a trip to the Emirates with confidence, the field of European teams is still expected to be decided on Tuesday evening. Along with Ukraine, Turkey is also in the playoffs. After a 1–1 draw against Belgium, Wales can now look to a draw as a seeded team in Zurich on 26 November (5:00 PM). Gareth Bale & Co is thus one of Austria’s six potential opponents.

The FB team is not seeded and will compete in the semi-finals of the play-offs away from home. Also decided: Russia and Ukraine cannot compete against each other for political reasons. The two countries are not ranked together in one of three pools of four.

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“I think we have chances against everyone. A lot is always possible in a game,” OFB president Gerhard Miletich said on Tuesday. The range of opponents still suggests more or less difficult tasks. European champion Italy or former champion Portugal Russia, Scotland, Sweden or Wales as much as possible. Sweden is formally the strongest of the quartet in the FIFA rankings as of 17th. In the semi-finals – the game dates are March 24 and 25, 2022 – they are to do without suspended star striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Wales is currently ranked 19th in the world rankings and was an opponent of Austria in World Cup qualification in 2016/2017. At that time there was a draw and a defeat against the British. Russia (33rd) held off runners-up Croatia for a long time and only went into the play-offs in a straight duel after their own goal of late. The Austrians already know Scotland (42nd) very well from the qualification stage which has just ended.

While the Scots reached the European Championship via play-offs last summer, Austria has not fought such a knockout duel since 2001. At that time, the game ended in two legs (0: 1, 0: 5) in the barrage for the 2002 World Cup against Turkey.

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