After spending three years with Liga MX’s Rayados de Monterrey and being involved in winning a league title in his first season there, Vincent Janssen’s performance began a steady decline, failing to adapt like many expected he would, ultimately ending in his move to Belgian side Royal Antwerp in the Jupiler Pro League (Belgian top tier) this past summer. There, Janssen has established himself as a regular starter, having started 13 of their 17 games thus far (has played in all 17), scoring 9 league goals. Not to mention, not only was he called up to the Netherlands NT in June for the first time since 2017, but earned a starting role after participating in their final three UEFA Nations League matches.
Head coach Louis van Gaal was so convinced by the striker, he inserted him in the starting lineup for their opening 2022 World Cup match earlier today against Senegal. It’s quite the story for Janssen after having been benched and all but driven out of Rayados camp by fans and front office. Well, he’s now apparently regained that level of play that saw him earn a spot with Tottenham a few years ago.
Unfortunately for him, today just didn’t work out the way he expected. Don’t get me wrong; Janssen ran his tail off and put in his usual high effort you always see from him. He played extremely physical and didn’t give an inch to the African defenders. In the end, however, he failed to provide an offensive spark, which is the main reason why he’s on the pitch in the first place.
Janssen logged a total of 62 minutes on the pitch, and his best offensive play came in the 40th minute, when he served as a post and one-touched a ball with his right boot to Steven Berghuis who ultimately fired high above the crossbar. Other than that, he struggled to get the ball and be effective. Head coach van Gaal pulled Janssen from the match to make way for FC Barcelona’s Memphis Depay.
If anything, it appeared Senegal took control of the match temporarily after Janssen’s departure, creating two top-notch approaches that keeper Andries Noppert dealt with masterfully. In the end, the sub did work out for the Dutch, as Depay’s left-footed attempt in the 90 + 9th minute resulted in a save keeper Édouard Mendy couldn’t hold on to, giving way for Davy Klaassen getting to the loose ball and putting it in the back of the net for the 2-0 dagger.
If there’s one thing you can’t say about Vincent Janssen, it’s that he doesn’t put in max effort every single time out. He always gives it his all and appears to be playing for his life, whether chasing a loose ball or a defender. He’s a top professional, and despite not scoring every single match, can be the difference with the little things / dirty work he’s willing to do that not many strikers are. But he must also be productive with the ball, and that failed today. He couldn’t get open or take control of the ball despite his runs in the final third.
The victory allows the Netherlands to tie Ecuador atop Group A, with all four teams having played their first match. Both sit in first with 3 points and a +2 GD, while both Senegal and hosts Qatar sit bottom of the table with 0 points and a -2 GD. Up next for Netherlands are Ecuador, in what should be another challenging match for van Gaal’s squad. Senegal, on the other hand, have proven they’re no scrubs, and can in no way be ruled out of this one yet. Next for Senegal are Qatar. If Senegal win, combined with an Ecuador loss to the Netherlands, that final matchup between the Africans and South Americans should be a doozy.