READ ALSO. OUR JUDGMENT. Several eights at swinging Antwerp
That’s how it goes if you can play football very well: then you can actually handle any position. Due to a lack of available midfielders – Nainggolan banned, Yusuf, Gerkens and Haroun out – Mark van Bommel placed Calvin Stengs next to the young Arthur Vermeeren. Stengs is a flank attacker. Or maybe better: was a flank attacker? Because Stengs – before the World Cup break occasionally strong, more often moderate – did a damn good job in an unusual role for him.
For example, the Dutchman was the assister of Jelle Bataille’s 1-0, just past fifteen minutes. That was not a genius pass, but it was a custom ball. However, Bataille did most of the work: advance, cut in, score. Nice goal.
We thought in advance that Nainggolan could have become the theme of the match, without playing a single second, but that was without counting an impressive Antwerp. And that with an unusual team. Antwerp grabbed Standard by the throat after a round of study and dominated, with chances. Muja decided next to Frey over Valencia on the fists of Standard goalie Bodart. Antwerp was in complete control.
That was also thanks to a student from the sixth secondary school, Top Sports Science. Arthur – ‘Tuurke’ – Vermeeren was crucial in the build-up and recovery. It’s that you see he’s so young, or you wouldn’t notice.
Standard really couldn’t prepare anything before the break. Mark van Bommel must have wondered whether it was in the competition against this opponent that RAFC owed three goals after ten minutes…
After the break, Antwerp, playing to the atmospheric and well-filled spy head, just kept going. Stengs – again he – sent Frey down the street, the striker hit the post. A few minutes later it was hit. Muja wanted to look for the far corner himself, but his shot went in via Frey (2-0). Muja still got himself on the scoreboard (3-0), while Dussenne picked up a second yellow card on behalf of Standard. In case that wasn’t clear yet: game over.
In the final quarter, Stengs was able to crown his fine evening with the 4-0. His attempt deviated on a leg from Liege, Bodart beaten. On the sidelines, Van Bommel – cap on his head – had a broad smile. Dancing in the rain.
More than rightly so. Antwerp and Van Bommel can’t get enough praise for the way it reached the quarter-finals. The performance was finished. The organization was there – Standard could never threaten -, offensively there were smooth combinations and efficiency.
In the run-up to the world championship, doubts had arisen about the Great Old. The level of play seemed to be better than at the beginning of the season – we have always found that statement a bit exaggerated -, but the points harvest did not follow, not helped by a very heavy program (Standard, Genk, Charleroi, Anderlecht and Club Brugge). The fact that Antwerp was able to put the dots on the i on Tuesday will have been good.
If Antwerp can confirm this on Tuesday in the competition in the Westelse Kuipje, it will be a very pleasant end of the year. Would chairman Paul Gheysens have already found a present for under the Christmas tree? Because let’s not overlook this performance (without minimizing it): with these eleven boys you cannot demand Antwerp to be top every week. Even when the injured are back, reinforcement in width is more than welcome.
On the other hand, if three more expensive players had been available, Vermeeren might not have surfaced (yet). And let’s face it: that would have been a shame. What a talent that boy has…
READ ALSO. REACTIONS. Convincing Alderweireld leaves World Cup history behind: “It was important to start well”