We had to wait a long time for this. But today, it’s game on! Sure, it’s a friendly, and sure, we are still missing a lot of lads and sure, Ecuador is only….Ecuador, but still….
We are starting in a “match-format” after weeks of guessing, commenting, waiting, watching Louis at press conferences, watching Louis at training… The last bit of news I heard is that Louis himself is now overseeing the way the Oranje squad bus will be decked out!! GOOD! We love control freaks.
They demand a lot from themselves, their players and hopefully set their aim high.
Let the games begin!
We know that Louis will start with Depay and Van Persie. He said so. Robin because he needs the minutes. He has slowly returned from his knee injury but hasn’t played a full match for Man United. So Van Gaal wants to make sure he will be fighting fit for Spain. Van Persie: “I am fit. And very focused. I feel good about this World Cup, to be honest. But then again, I always am positive. On the other hand, we do have some work today to find the right formula and we are also in a very tough group, so… It can go either way.”
It feels to me like Kongolo will start as well. He is the only other (with Depay) U21 Oranje player who was told to stay at the Oranje trainings camp. And as Nigel is still in Italy, I think Blind will start as defensive mid and Kongolo as left full back. Van Gaal basically said that he will field only Eredivisie players, except for Van Persie.
I believe we will see:
Janmaat De Vrij Veltman BMI Kongolo
Clasie Wijnaldum Blind
Van Persie Depay
Daley Blind, by the way: best player of the Eredivisie, has played the most minutes this season of all Oranje internationals.
Van Gaal had eight intense trainings days with his current group and will report tomorrow in a press conference on his plans for the World Cup. We’ll be there!
Arjen Robben responded as such on the “news” that LVG might abandon the 4-3-3: “Ah you know, the numbers and systems… it doesn’t speak to me. I need freedom to do my thing. And I really don’t care if it is left or right wing, or behind the striker or as a striker. At Bayern, I have played all these different positions. The bigger teams, like Bayern, Real Madrid and Chelsea, all know how to switch systems. I think the coach will need to look at the quality of the players and pick the system that works best. For me, any system is fine. What I do like, is that we are all very realistic about this World Cup. And it’s about time. Every World Cup or Euro Cup people think we’ll win it easily. We are a squad in progress and we happen to have one of the best coaches on the planet to help us do it.”
Frank de Boer said something interesting about Hiddink and Van Gaal. “I worked with both. I worked with Louis at Ajax and Oranje and with Hiddink in 1996 and 1998 with Oranje. And I tell you: I can’t remember one single thing that Hiddink taught me tactically about football. While Louis is like a tactical wizard. But Guus got us to the semi finals in 1998 and Louis didn’t qualify in 2002. What I am saying is, that it takes more than tactics. We would walk through fire for Hiddink. He is such a strong people manager and a smart motivator. He left the tactics to us! He would ask us (Cocu, Blind, Bergkamp, Ronald de Boer) “how so you wanna play?”. And he listened and observed and made his decisions. Van Gaal is totally the opposite. He will instruct you in detail what he wants. Both are very different and the point is that you need to find the right mix. What does a group need, how can you work with all the ingredients… In 2002, it simply didn’t work….”
On May 29, a documentary on the failed campaign of 2002 will be aired on Dutch tv. There have always been stories about wild party nights and sex orgies. The players always refuted this. But now the security officer of Oranje of 2002 has his say, for the first time in 12 years. “We had tight security in the hotel. Louis wanted lights out at 10 pm. I sat in the hotel hall way for hours and we had measures… we had cords with alarms on the exits and we had little matches on the door knobs so we would know who would leave or try to leave….” This stuff is even new to the players of those days…. More to come for sure.
Here is the Oranje program for the coming weeks:
Trainings camp Portugal: May 20 till May 27, in Lagos Portugal. The players will work for three days. On Saturday 24 May, the players have a day off and will visit the CL finals in Lisbon. Then two more training days until May 27, when the players return to Amsterdam.
Trainings camp Rotterdam: 29 to 31 May. Two days of training for Ghana and 31 May the game is on in De Kuip.
Trainings camp Alkmaar: 1 to 5 June. Three training days and on June 2 the definitive squad will be announced. June 4 we have the last friendly vs Wales and on June 5 the group depart for Brazil.
Oranje arrives June 6 and has a full week to get accustomed until we play on June 13 against Spain in Salvador. We play 5 days later on June 18 vs Australia in Rio and again 5 days later on June 23 against Chile in Sao Paulo. Be there of be square!!