The long-awaited and very controversial 2022 World Cup is upon us, and with it, wonderful matches from teams across the world. In terms of the games that Group A will give us, they do not come much better than the likes of Senegal versus the Netherlands. For Toffee supporters though, there will be some added interest in this Senegalese team; the recently returned central defensive midfielder Idrissa Gana Gueye will be playing a crucial role for this team too, and they will need him badly against a dangerous Dutch side that is aiming to be top of the group.
Veteran coach Louis van Gaal will be looking to take his Oranje quite far this World Cup, and with the likes of Memphis Depay, Luke de Jong, Frankie de Jong, Virgil can Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt, those expectations are certainly reasonable. For van Gaal, he will be looking for a triumphant send-off before he relinquishes control of this squad to former Everton boss and Dutch footballing legend Ronald Koeman after the World Cup; beating Senegal would be some start, but it will be no easy task.
This team, the reigning African champions - bossed by Aliou Cisse - are dangerous even with Sadio Mane sadly sidelined for this tournament. They will need to show it quickly and often in the first match to be sure. Without Mane, young men like Ismaila Sarr and Krepin Diata will have to score the goals that will allow for Gana to play with the type of aggression and confidence that make him most dangerous in retrieving balls and protecting the Lion's backline. This team - with Eduoard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly - certainly have world-class goalkeeping and defending; neither needs as much help as others at their respective positions on order to properly stone their opponents offensive ambitions.
It will be an interesting match for Frank Lampard to watch and see the different situations where Gueye can be effective, and hopefully realize that the Blues are better when in a 4-2-3-1 versus the aggressive 4-3-3 he’s been trying that has left the Senegalese midfielder exposed.
While it is widely expected that the Dutch play a 5-3-2 instead of a 4-3-3, Senegal’s only virtual informational certainty is that they will have four at the back and Eduoard Mendy minding the goal. Gana will be tasked with controlling the pace of a match that could become full of fireworks sooner than later, even if there is first a process of getting to know one another. Both sides will know that to win will give the winning side a big leg up in winning their group, and neither will want to carry either a draw or a loss into their remaining two matches.