Chris & Jon’s Pre-Tournament Rank – 6th
xG Report (Holland listed first)
vs New Zealand (1-0, W) – 2.70-0.63
vs Cameroon (3-1, W) – 1.62-0.99
vs Canada (2-1, W) – 2.50-1.71
vs Japan (2-1, W) – 1.35 (+1 pen)-1.70
vs Italy (2-0, W) – 1.46-0.95
vs Sweden (1-0, W) – 1.76-1.28
vs USA (0-2, L) – 0.17-1.75 (+1 pen)
Overall xG Average – 1.65-1.30
Players to Watch
Lieke Martens – F (LF)
Martens was expected to set the tournament alight after her heroics at UEFA EURO 2017 for the title winning Dutch, but it never quite came off for her in this showcase. Some of the press criticism she faced back at home was probably a little out of line, but Martens did almost all of her work in two games, the opener against New Zealand and the win against Japan. Her form faded badly down the stretch in the knockout stage, not helped at all by a serious toe injury that made the last three matches a real struggle.
Kika van Es – D (LB, RB)
van Es looked like one of the tournament’s great secrets coming into France after having been a terror at full-back for Holland in the months leading up to the tournament. But there were serious questions about how she’d fare after breaking her hand in a friendly right before the WWC. The answer to the question wasn’t exactly positive, as though van Es wasn’t awful (sorry Derek Rae), she was nowhere near her best and gave way to Merel van Dongen midway through the group stage. What that means to her long-term future for the Dutch remains to be seen, though it won’t hurt her club aspirations, having sealed a move to Everton this offseason.
Vivianne Miedema – F (CF)
Miedema’s scoring rate was a constant subject for pundits coming into and during the WWC, and though she played well, she also perhaps did not hit the heights of her potential in this tournament. Miedema opened up hot in the first few games for the Dutch, including scoring a pair against Cameroon but cooled off noticeably in the matches against Canada and Japan. Miedema did net against Italy in the quarterfinal but wasn’t able to turn the tide in the next two matches, capping off a good but not necessarily great tournament for the Dutch.
Did Achilles’ Heel Sink Them?
The backline looked to be a big question mark, though the Dutch got through it via a combination of Sari van Veenendaal bailing them out in goal or the defenders punching above their weight, though a 1.30 xG allowed average for the tournament shows that they weren’t exactly a brick wall. Merel van Dongen played much of the tournament at left-back, which didn’t look like a natural fit, while Dominique Bloodworth played there in a big gamble in the final that didn’t quite come off in the end. Stephanie van der Gragt shook off injury concerns to play relatively well on the month, save a shaky display in the final.
Answering The Questions
1. Shanice van de Sanden went from potential star to pantomime villain according to the narrative of many this tournament. The winger was touted by many as a potential force for Holland if she could replicate some of her club form at international level. But van de Sanden was also known for her unpredictability and propensity for having poor games as well. The “bad” van de Sanden was in full effect this tournament though, failing really to put together even one great game for the Dutch. She created just three chances in seven games and had only two chances herself (missing both). van de Sanden’s young enough to have at least one more WWC in her future, but her reputation suffered arguably as much as anyone this past month. Continue reading