Two intriguing young teams, the Netherlands and the United States face off for the spot in the World Cup quarterfinals

Two intriguing young teams, the Netherlands and the United States face off for the spot in the World Cup quarterfinals

Published on December 04, 2022 00:33 AM by Anthony Christian

Even though the odds-on favorite is the Netherlands, this game is much closer than that, and both teams will be confident of making it to the quarterfinals. The USMNT gave England a lot of trouble in its group-stage match, which ended in a 0-0 draw. However, Gregg Berhalter's team showed they could play well in a high-stakes, winner-takes-all game by beating Iran. The Netherlands is ranked eighth in the world by FIFA, which is eight spots higher than the U.S. They also have world-famous players like Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk and Barcelona's Frenkie and Memphis Depay, so the U.S. will have a hard time on Saturday. Can Berhalter's team get to the final eight for the first time since 2002? CNN Sport takes a look.

USMNT's key threat

(Image Credits: thebentmusket)

The major concern for the United States is Christian Pulisic's health. The Chelsea forward suffered what he termed a pelvic contusion when scoring the game-winning goal against Iran. Still, according to Chelsea head coach Berhalter, Pulisic is expected to play on Saturday. Some U.S. fans have nicknamed Pulisic "Captain America." On Thursday, he told reporters, "I will do all in my ability to cooperate with this medical team and ensure that I can participate." Fortunately for American supporters, the USMNT's official Twitter account stated late Friday that Pulisic is clear to play in the must-win encounter against the Dutch.

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The performance against Iran 

A tough but well-earned 1-0 win will have made Berhalter very happy, especially since there had been a lot of tension off the field in the days leading to the game. Iranian journalists asked Berhalter and captain Tyler Adams some tough questions in a heated press conference before the game. They were also accused of being hypocritical and rude. Berhalter and U.S. fans will have a lot of confidence going into Saturday's game because his team was able to focus and deliver results in the crucial moments. Berhalter said before the game, "From here, anything can happen." "It's a great chance, but we're not going into it with the idea that it's an honor. We're where we are because we earned it, and we want to stay there." Even though Pulisic is the best player on the USMNT, captain Adams has been the team's engine and beating heart. The midfielder for Leeds has been calm both on and off the field. When Iranian journalists asked him questions, he answered them with poise and eloquence, which won him praise. Berhalter's team hasn't given up a goal from open play at this World Cup. After the win against Iran, he gave his "general" a lot of praise. Berhalter said, "Tyler fills a very specific role." "He is the leader and the mastermind. He's the one who goes out and shows everyone what to do. When he talks, people listen."

The opponent

If the U.S. plays as it did against England and for most of the game against Iran, it will make the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time since 2002. The USMNT will feel good about their chances against the Netherlands, who haven't gotten their act together yet in Qatar. So far, Louis van Gaal's team has yet to do much to impress. They won a late game against Senegal only because Édouard Mendy made two mistakes as a goalkeeper, and they only got a point against Ecuador. The team's win with 2-0 points over Qatar was a better showing, but Qatar hasn't done well in this tournament.

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What the coach said

Few people thought that the Netherlands would be in serious competition at this World Cup, and it will please head coach Louis van Gaal, who is known for being a pragmatic leader, that his team finished first in Group A even though they weren't working well together yet. The 71-year-old is in his third stint as coach of the Dutch national team. He pushed back when a reporter said his team's game against Qatar was "terribly boring," and he praised a "fanatical and sharp" U.S. team in a press conference before the quarterfinals. "I know from experience that games against countries like the U.S. and Australia, which we played at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, are always very hard," van Gaal said Thursday. "They work hard and are good with the ball," van Gaal said Friday, according to Reuters. "The USA has shown that it has an excellent team, maybe one of the best teams, a team that is finely tuned, but it's nothing we can't handle." "The USA is a very active team with physically strong players, which makes it hard for anyone to beat them, as you can see from their results.

Netherlands' key threat

Cody Gakpo, a promising young player, helped the Netherlands win all three games in their group stage with only eight shots on goal. The 23-year transfer's worth has likely increased, which is great news for PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch Eredivisie. He leads the battle for the golden boot at the 2022 World Cup with Marcus Rashford, Kylian Mbappé, Alvaro Morata, and Enner Valencia after scoring with his right and left foot and head. Several teams are reportedly competing to recruit Gakpo after the World Cup concludes, with Manchester United leading the pack. The winger's talent "can travel to the moon and back," according to fellow Dutch standout Virgil van Dijk. A defender for Liverpool praised him, saying, "He is an excellent player and a wonderful lad, too." Like what you see on the field, this is how we train. I hope he keeps surprising us with what else he can do. We're thrilled to have him on board. It's possible that circumstances could change, but now, Cody has everything he needs to become a star," Van Gaal stated. Because of his positive attitude and eagerness to learn, he has the potential to become a top athlete. The United States will be a formidable opponent, and this team struggled against an Ecuadorian athletic squad. Gakpo, van Dijk, and the Netherlands' midfielder de Jong will all need to play well for the Dutch if they are to go through a challenging test in the United States.

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