The Netherlands began their World Cup campaign with a 2-0 victory over Senegal at Al Thumama stadium, setting up a potential Group A championship matchup against Ecuador on Friday. For sports betting fiesta check out CasinoDaddy!
The African champions were defeated by a comfortable margin thanks to goals from Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaassen in the closing five minutes. The Dutch must now defeat Qatar in their next match in order to keep their dreams of moving on to the second round alive.
By setting up a 2-0 victory for the Netherlands against Senegal in their Group A opener, Cody Gakpo showed up to his reputation as one of the most highly sought-after young forwards in Europe. Gakpo, a forward for PSV Eindhoven, was on the verge of joining Manchester United during the summer and is still on their radar going into the January transfer window. The 23-year-old also made sure Louis van Gaal's team got off to a winning start in his first World Cup match, giving them an advantage in their quest to win their group and advance to the next round.
Gakpo entered the Senegal penalty area late and headed Frenkie de Jong's cross past a reluctant Edouard Mendy in the goal for the African champions as the game appeared to be headed towards a 0-0 stalemate. The Dutch failed to create an impact against a Senegal squad without their injured talisman Sadio Mane after Van Gaal used Gakpo in a deeper role throughout the game. However, winning the group means avoiding a potential match against England, so the three points could be crucial for the Dutch. Davy Klaassen made it 2-0 in the final seconds of stoppage time by capitalizing on another Mendy error. The group winners are then scheduled to face the runners-up in Group B, who are most likely in Wales or the USA.
Senegal, while having a few second-half opportunities, did not demonstrate that they could advance past the quarterfinals in Qatar to become the first African team to do so. The game that determines their future is scheduled to take place against Ecuador on Tuesday.
Sadio Mane's absence from Qatar 2022, which we had anticipated would be a significant blow for Senegal, has rendered Aliou Cisse's squad offensively ineffective. Without the Bayern Munich front, Senegal is just not a threat up front; Ismaila Sarr of Watford and Boulaye Dia of Salernitana are simply not on the same level as their star teammate. Senegal is a talented team with a winning history—they took home this year's Africa Cup of Nations—but they won't pose a threat to the competition's top teams without a solid forward.
The Netherlands would be a contender to advance far in the competition if they had only one striker on par with their recent greats, like Robin van Persie, Ruud van Nistelrooy, and Marco van Basten. Virgil van Dijk and Frenkie de Jong are world-class players for Louis van Gaal's team farther back, but their offensive players are a tier below what the Dutch actually need to win in Qatar. In the European portion of the World Cup qualifiers, Memphis Depay, a replacement who finished first, and Harry Kane tied for the most goals. However, neither the Barcelona forward nor players like Luuk de Jong and Wout Weghorst will pose a threat to the elite teams.
Even if Cody Gakpo won this game with his late-headed goal for PSV Eindhoven, he can't carry Dutch aspirations on his own. Both Senegal and the Netherlands lack the strength to defeat Gareth Southgate's squad, and it is likely that the group's runners-up will meet England in the second round.
The last-minute rush to purchase tickets for games in the days before the World Cup began was so great that just six group games had any significant availability. FIFA reported that almost all of the tickets had been purchased, thus we might expect packed houses at every game. However, Al Thumama Stadium wasn't even close to being full for the matchup between the African champions and one of the most popular teams in Europe.
The official attendance was reported as 41,721, which is not bad for a stadium with a 40,000-capacity according to the official World Cup guide. Why were there so many vacant seats and where were all the fans? One of the most unexpected results in the tournament opener between Qatar and Ecuador was the mass exodus of fans early in the second half, which raised concerns about the type of fan who is purchasing tickets and attending games.
They might be locals who are interested in the tournament but don't have a strong enthusiasm for the sport, which is why they left the Qatar game early, or they might have simply bought tickets and chosen not to go. In order to secure a ticket for the game that mattered the most, some ticket packages required fans to purchase a number of tickets for events they may not even have wanted to attend. Regardless matter the cause, it's not good for the World Cup when such exciting matches are played in front of rows of empty seats. It's possible that this is what caused the Senegal fans' band to continuously play at such a loud volume because of the reverberation in the mostly empty stadium.