FIFA Women’s World Cup – New Zealand 0-1 Netherlands – Tactical Analysis

Group E kicked off yesterday with Canada beating Cameroon, and now both opening fixtures of Group E have been played, both ending in 1-0 score-lines. Canada’s victory against Cameroon was fairly comfortable, while Netherlands had to really dig this one out and were only able to snatch it right at the end from a resilient New Zealand side. Here is The Mastermind’s Tactical Analysis for New Zealand 0-1 Netherlands.


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Netherlands set up in their favoured 4-3-3 formation with a fluid and dynamic front three, accompanied by composure and poise on the rest of the pitch. New Zealand on the other hand set up in a 4-5-1 with Betsy Hassett and Olivia Chance attempting to fly forward on the break and join Sarah Gregorious up top.

Netherlands (4-3-3): Van Veenendaal (GK), Van Lunteren (RB), Van der Gragt (CB) Bloodworth (CB), Van Es (LB), Spitse (DM), Groenen (CM), Van de Donk (CM), Van de Sanden (RW), Miedema (CF), Martens (LW)

Australia (4-5-1): Nayler (GK), Bott (RB) Stott (CB), Erceg (CB), Riley (LB), Hassett (RM), Bowen (CM), Percival (DM), White (CM), Chance (LM), Gregorious (CF)


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New Zealand operated in a mid-to-low block, often placing 8 players behind the ball in defense. When they won the ball, they predominantly looked to play quickly to Olivia Chance and Sarah Gregorious who were often the two most advanced. Since Netherlands dominantly attacked down the left with Lieke Martens, Betsy Hassett often had the more defensive role to play, dropping in as one of the eight as Chance stayed high. This tactic allowed Olivia Chance the best chance of the first half when she hit the bar and nearly gave New Zealand the lead. It also allowed the Kiwis to be the far more dangerous side in the first half. Most of Netherlands’ shots were either flying over or being blocked by Rebekah Stott and Abby Erceg, while New Zealand had a few great opportunities to score and nearly did on three occasions.

Netherlands kept hold of the vast majority of the possession in the match and tried to play around New Zealand’s low block. They utilized the fullbacks and wingers in wide areas to try and exploit space, but New Zealand often remained resilient and the Dutch team could only win a few corners. The better chances in the first half actually fell to the Kiwis, who looked fast on the break and were far more comfortable breaking down the Dutch defense.

As a trade-off to occasionally being exposed defensively, the Dutch were much better in possession and the combination of Bloodworth and Van der Gragt had the most touches on the ball. The two central defenders along with Sherida Spitse dictated much of the build-up as the Dutch team often set up in a WW formation of 2-3-2-3 when their centre backs had the ball. The fullbacks would push higher in line with Spitse, as Groenen and Van de Donk would push forward. Van de Sanden and Martens meanwhile would get as high and wide as they could to exploit New Zealand’s 8-player block as Miedema dropped in between. The Kiwis remained resilient in defense and could hardly be stopped, particularly with CJ Bott on top of her game.

Despite Netherlands having 70% of the possession by the end of the match, the shots on target were split evenly 3-3 and New Zealand always looked more threatening when they had chances to score.

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In the second half however, Netherlands began to grow into the game, particularly as Vivianne Miedema, Lieke Martens and Shanice Van de Sanden all had more touches in the final third. Throughout this time, New Zealand never let up on their vibrancy going forward and had the best chance to score when Van Veenendaal made one of the best saves you’ll see at this tournament, denying Gregorious’ slow shot from close range. But the movement of Miedema, pace and power of Van de Sanden and stellar footwork of Lieke Martens continued to be a problem for New Zealand as they began to tire. Miedema was denied from close range after Erin Nayler got down quick to make a smart save and ten minutes later the Kiwis’ low block was almost exposed by a ball over the top from Danielle Bloodworth into the path of Van de Sanden, but Rebekah Stott was there to disrupt the pass.


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In the final twenty minutes, the Dutch overloaded the left side, trying to get Lieke Martens on the ball as much as possible. The plan appeared to be to first overload the left and then quickly switch to the right, but the Dutch women were ineffective in accomplishing this plan and ended up relying on tame crosses into the box. However, New Zealand’s game-plan also changed during this time and the 8-player block started to sit even deeper. This invited the fullbacks and Spitse to have more time on the ball and the frustrated Vivanne Miedema began to come into midfield to get on it herself. New Zealand remained strong and continued to block everything that came their way as Martens continued to lead the charge. Rebekah Stott and Abby Erceg looked magnificent during this time but the pressure just kept on coming and you felt that it would be a massive task in the final ten minutes for New Zealand to keep their opposition out.

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In the final few minutes Netherlands finally got the break through as New Zealand hearts began to break. Danielle van de Donk grew into the game, Vivianne Miedema got on the ball, played it out wide for Kika van Es who whipped in a cross. Ali Riley couldn’t get it out and away from substitute Lineth Beerensteyn and another substitute in Jill Roord headed it into the back of the net. This was really harsh on New Zealand, who had nearly pulled off a tactical masterclass in stopping Netherlands from scoring up until this point. In the end, New Zealand did well to frustrate Netherlands but came away with nothing, as the Dutch took all three points to top Group E alongside Canada. Despite Netherlands’ dominance on the ball, a draw would have been a fair result and the best possible outcome for Canada. This creates a lot of intrigue as we head into the next set of fixtures in this group, particularly the much anticipated Netherlands-Canada showdown.

Thanks for reading and see you soon!

Be sure to check out more FIFA Women’s World Cup matches right here!

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