MONTREAL — Netherlands striker Vivianne Miedema has been kept in check by New Zealand and China, a large reason that the Dutch have struggled to find the back of the net. A victory against Canada on Monday night at Olympic Stadium could earn the Netherlands top spot in Group A. The Netherlands defeated New Zealand, 1-0 in their opening match but lost to China by the same score on Thursday.
Miedema led her country to a U-19 European Championship last year and led all of Europe in World Cup qualifying goals with 16 goals. But she is experiencing her first major football tournament on the biggest stage in the women’s game. The 18-year-old Bayern Munich sniper was available for an interview and talked about playing the host country in a crucial matchup.
How do you think the Netherlands are doing?
Yeah, not that good so far. The first game we won of course, but we didn’t play our own game like we can. China was just a bad game. We know what we have to do better and we know that we have to do better against Canada, otherwise we might go home. We do work on it and we do speak about it. We just have to let it stay on the field.
You just mentioned it: What do you have to do better against Canada?
The field was way to big when we played against China and the space was too big. We didn’t do well in the midfield, and we didn’t create any chances and that has to be better against Canada. We have to play more compact and then maybe we can create more chances.
Would you say it’s a must-win match?
I think we have enough (to advance) on 1 point, but then it depends on the other groups. We just have to play for a result. Of course we want to win so we have a better position in the next round. If 1-1 is enough or 0-0 is enough, we play for that.
How are you taking in and enjoying your first major big tournament experience?
I have to enjoy it more I think. Yeah it’s great to be here as a player, you always dream about it when you are little. Of course I played in the U-19 last year and we won the European Championship, but that’s way different than it is here. It’s so big and it’s really great, like all the people in the stadium. I have to enjoy it more and just get that feeling.
You’ve been scoring goals for fun. What do you have to do to get your game going?
The games here are frustrating for me. I didn’t get that many chances and I didn’t get that many good balls. This year with Bayern, everything went well. We won the (Frauen-Bundesliga) championship and we created a lot of chances. That’s why I score more than I do now, here. I think when we play our on game here with the national team I will score goals again like we did against Italy. I just hope we do that against Canada.
Coming into the tournament you had a bit of a knock. How is your fitness?
Yeah I’m totally fit again. Before the game against China, I also had some problems with my foot and when we came to Toronto in the first week. Of course I had my problems with my head. Like a headache (migraines), but it’s totally fine now.
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What kind of adjustment is it to play on turf?
For me it’s fine to play on fake grass. I think that my generation is used to it. We always play on it, when I play with little boys. I think it’s totally fine for me and I think it’s also good for our team because we really want to play soccer and it’s easier on turf. I do understand that some people don’t like it.
You’re a bit younger, maybe you don’t feel it as much?
Maybe that’s it. I’m more fit than other people are. I’m use to it and I think that’s a big difference.
Are you expecting a big physical match against Canada?
Yeah I think so. They are so fit. They want to run a lot and they want to get in and do well. That’s not our strength, but I think we’re ready for that. It’s going to be a big match.
What are your thoughts on Christine Sinclair?
Of course I have a lot of respect for her. She’s scoring a lot of goals and she also scored the first goal for Canada. I think we just have to defend her as normal. They have more good players and I trust in our defense. I hope they do their job and they don’t let her score.
John Herdman likes to discuss the opposition team a lot. What do you think about that approach?
I know, he does. I think it’s up to him. Actually I don’t care about it, but I think he don’t need it, he’s a good coach and everyone likes him.
Does it motivate the other team?
Yeah I think it does, especially because he was the coach of New Zealand before. I don’t like that, but if he wants to do it, I’m fine with it.
Have you been able to watch any of the other World Cup matches?
Actually I did watch a lot. I think the level is higher than I expected. You have some games like yesterday. The Swiss is winning like 10-1. The other countries from Africa and South America they have to develop too. It is getting better, but I don’t know if it’s that good for the tournament, like 10-0 scores.
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