Nathan Ake backs Netherlands to deal with nice expectations going into World Cup

New dad Nathan Ake believes the Netherlands have what it takes to cope with the elevated expectation ranges going into the World Cup and is assured the staff can go all the way in which in Qatar.

The Manchester Metropolis defender did not have lengthy to get to know his new daughter – born final weekend – earlier than saying goodbye to spouse Kaylee and packing his baggage for Qatar however he has had loads of time to mull over current worldwide match disappointments and assimilate his nation’s possibilities this time round.


Led by Frank de Boer, the Dutch flopped at Euro 2020 falling within the final 16 to the Czech Republic after topping their group with three straight wins.

That swift exit led to kind Barcelona, ​​Bayern Munich and Manchester United supervisor Louis van Gaal calling time on his retirement to teach the nationwide facet for a 3rd time. The development has been mirrored in outcomes.

The Netherlands misplaced simply as soon as in ten qualifying video games, successful seven and topping a gaggle that included Erling Haaland’s Norway. They’ve additionally certified for the Nations League finals.

They now compete in World Cup Group A, which is accomplished by hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal.

Ake admits that regardless of the presence of the house facet, the African Champions with or with out injured star man Sadio Mane, and an Ecuador facet that completed fourth within the South American qualifying part, the expectation will likely be that he and his colleagues win the group or not less than transfer ahead.

Ake has settled into the left facet of a again 5 in a 5-3-2 formation that has seen the Dutch tighten up significantly defensively. The formation is an enormous distinction to what the 27-year-old is requested to suit into below Pep Guardiola at Metropolis however it would not faze him.

“It’s totally different,” he smiled. “Clearly the way in which we play right here is totally different right here to how we play with the worldwide staff. However we’re used to one another now within the Netherlands squad. LVG has been our supervisor now for the final couple of years so we all know the formation and what he desires from it.

“You simply choose up these issues once more as quickly as you return to the nationwide staff. Everyone knows precisely what now we have to take action it’s not so tough any extra to change from membership to nation.

Nathan Ake says that Netherlands players 'know exactly what we have to do' under manager Louis van Gaal.  AFP

“We go to Qatar with an extended unbeaten run behind us. We’re very assured. The previous few video games within the construct up have been excellent. We now have been enhancing as a staff. The supervisor has been hammering on about clear sheets earlier than the final two video games and we additionally delivered these [against Belgium and Poland].

“We will in all probability enhance just a little what we do on the ball. As a staff I really feel we’re enhancing and we’re feeling good. The supervisor may be very direct so everybody is aware of precisely the place they stand. That helps as effectively.

“I believe folks see us as favorites to qualify from our group however in case you see groups like Senegal and the gamers they’ve within the staff it’s not going to be simple. Particularly as they’re our first sport. After that sport we will decide how we’re going however that first sport will likely be important.”

The Netherlands have lengthy been admired for his or her soccer and elegance, their hordes of orange shirted followers additionally gentle up each match they attend, however expectations have waned barely because the heady days of consecutive silver medals within the World Cups of 1974 and 1978 – a place they most just lately stuffed in 2010.

Nevertheless, there’s a buzz concerning the present crop even when they’re extra defensively minded than the good groups of the previous.

“There’s extra expectation on us at this match than lately. I believe everybody within the staff is at a great age,” admitted Ake.

“We now have skilled match soccer collectively on the Euros once we did not do nice. As a staff we anticipate so much from ourselves going into Qatar. It is tough to say what success would appear to be however personally you go right into a match to win it in any other case it’s possible you’ll as effectively not go.

“It is at all times a curious match to foretell. Some groups begin very well and bland. Others begin badly and steadily enhance. It is all about making progress. That is why I mentioned the primary sport will likely be necessary after which we are going to develop into the match from there.”

Such is the worldwide nature of membership soccer lately it’s extremely probably that Ake will discover Metropolis teammates blocking his path to potential glory at some stage after which there are the friendships with countrymen who’re sworn enemies on the subject of the Premier League. It is an odd setting.

“It’s not tough to separate membership friendships and rivalry at an enormous match to be trustworthy,” reckoned Ake.

“Virgil [Liverpool’s van Dijk] for example is one in every of my greatest mates. Two weekends a 12 months now we have to play in opposition to each other and at that second he’s not my good friend any extra. Each of us wish to win however as soon as the sport is over it’s again to being mates.

“It’s the identical with teammates right here at Metropolis. Earlier than the sport you say howdy however throughout it’s enterprise. Most gamers discover it simple to separate membership and nation.

“There is likely to be an additional smile and a handshake in the course of the pre-game formalities however that is it. Then it’s simply focus. Everyone seems to be so aggressive. There will likely be loads of stick after the sport although relying on the end result.

“The WhatApp teams would possibly get a bit quieter however that may depend upon who’s doing effectively and who is not!”

Opinion is split on whether or not the World Cup in the midst of the European home season will profit gamers or not and Ake is of the opinion that the standard within the early rounds could also be higher than regular.

“Having a World Cup in the midst of the season is likely to be unusual however for the gamers it is likely to be simpler as a result of we’re already within the rhythm of taking part in so the standard from the beginning is likely to be increased,” he mentioned.

Nathan Ake says that international teammate Virgil van Dijk is one of his best friends despite the rivalry between their club sides Manchester City and Liverpool.  PA

“One week it was Brentford at house within the Manchester winter [a defeat he missed due to his daughter’s birth] and some days later we will likely be taking part in within the World Cup within the warmth of Qatar.

“That change will likely be unusual, too, however for the movement of kind will probably be good. At one level it’d get an excessive amount of however I am undecided. We’ll see. I am trying ahead to it.

“Gamers at Metropolis – and now we have so much who’re going – have not been specializing in the World Cup, we have been busy each three or 4 days making an attempt to win matches within the Premier League and the Champions League.

“There’s not even been a unconscious thought there. There is no time to consider one thing sooner or later. Whenever you play any sport on the high stage it’s a must to focus 100 per cent.”

Ake admits, nevertheless, that the World Cup was a sizzling subject for dialogue with Guardiola and his teammates earlier than a ball had been kicked within the Premier League and it prompted a change in considering and angle.

“We spoke earlier than the season about how the previous couple of seasons now we have began slowly as a staff after which from November and December we began to kick on,” he revealed “We talked about not having that November and December time within the Premier League so it was necessary to begin effectively.

“We consciously spoke a few quick begin since you by no means know what form groups will likely be in after the World Cup. I believe now we have performed that pretty efficiently.

“I do not worry burnout,” he added. “As gamers you at all times wish to play as many occasions as doable. I like video games that come shortly since you keep within the movement and hold going.

“This season goes to be loopy as a result of now we have performed twice per week because the begin of it after which straight into the World Cup and again and play each three or 4 days once more. Perhaps this season will take a toll however time will inform. ”

Up to date: November 16, 2022, 2:51 PM

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