Koeman demands improvement against Gibraltar after trashing in Paris

Photo: Depositphotos
Photo: Depositphotos

Head coach Ronald Koeman is expected to name an attacking line-up against Gibraltar as the Netherlands men’s team aims to ease the pain of Saturday’s debacle in Paris.

Liverpool striker Cody Gakpo has rejoined the squad after missing the 4-0 defeat to France with a stomach bug that hit five players. Koeman insisted it was a viral infection, despite speculation that it was caused by an undercooked chicken curry.

A Dutch team deprived of Gakpo, defender Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong, who was missing through injury, looked distinctly off the boil as they went 3-0 down in the first 20 minutes, their worst start to an international match for more than a century.

Koeman said he was not sure if Gakpo would be fit to start the game, but he, De Ligt and third-choice goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen have all recovered enough to resume training. ‘We’ll decide in the hours before the match how Cody is feeling,’ he said.

The coach looks set to give a starting place to Wout Weghorst, with Memphis Depay moving to the left wing to accommodate him. If Gakpo is unavailable, Donyell Malen is likely to start on the right in a 4-3-3 formation.

Koeman said he was looking for a big improvement from his team against a team that could hardly be further removed from World Cup runners-up France.

‘The team’s performance against France was very poor. I have to take my share of responsibility for it. We could adapt our system for that kind of game, but we chose not to. I have confidence in this system and we’re going to stick with it. It will get better.’

The Dutch played Gibraltar in the qualifying competition for the 2022 World Cup, winning 7-0 away and 6-0 at home, with Depay scoring twice in each game. A repeat of that scoreline is the minimum requirement for Koeman’s team in Rotterdam.

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