The bullit is through the church, as the Dutch saying goes. Marco Bizot, Steven Bergwijn, Anwar El Ghazi, Hans Hateboer, Rick Karsdorp, Jeremiah St Juste, Kenny Tete and Tonny Vilhena are not needed.
Cody Gakpo, Jurrien Timber and Teun Koopmeiners are the chosen ones. For the PSV winger and the Ajax defender it will be their first Oranje selection. Wout Weghorst is part of the Euro squad too, returning after 1,5 years. Maarten Stekelenburg is the nestor of the group, with his 38 years.
Bergwijn is the biggest shock, for many as he was a firm mainstay in the Oranje selection and often times starter under Koeman. Bergwijn lost his spot in the Spurs first team and the last two starting births were not enough for De Boer to change his mind. Marco Bizot’s bad luck is the return to the first team of Stekelenburg. The lanky Ajax goalie is known for his exquisite technique, his chilled out personality and his experience. Karsdorp has reason to be disappointed. He played 46 matches for AS Roma with seven assists and reached the semis in the Europa League. And he might have felt to be the best option for Oranje in a 5 man’s defensive line up. Tonny Vilhena could have beeen an option for the left wing back role, a position he holds with his club Krasnodar as well, but De Boer is content with Van Aanholt and Wijndal and if need be Blind.
Frank de Boer only has two weeks to prep for the Euros. Ridiculously short and for this first stage, he only had the prelim group of Dutch and Russian internationals, and two players from England (Krul and Veltman). If all goes well, Daley Blind will join this coming Friday.
Blind’s ability to play is of key importance to De Boer. The experienced lefty is usable on three positions. For years, Daley played left back for the Oranje, but ever since Van Dijk’s injury and Owen Wijndal meteoric rise, the 77 times capped player is centre back. Just like he does at Ajax. With a fit Blind, De Boer is capable of changing the system like that. In a 3-5-2, Blind will be the ideal build up man, and he’s also accustomed to the usual 4-3-3 both as defender and as midfielder.
De Boer demands tactical fluidity of this team. In his first match as NT, against Mexico, he changed the midfield set up and broke with Koeman’s line of thought. Koeman used a 4-2-3-1 and De Boer went 4-3-3, with one controlling mid. Against Bosnia Herzegovina, De Boer reverted to the trusted system and in the game against Italy, De Boer opened his bag of tactical tricks and went with 5 at the back. He was a spectator when Oranje played the Azzurri at home and he was facepalming all the way through the thrashing we got in a weak tactical performance. In the away game, he played Van Dijk, Ake and De Vrij and with two strikers (Memphis and Luuk de Jong), Oranje seemed more capable: 1-1.
In De Boer’s first weeks, we saw the three faces of De Boer’s Oranje. He wants to go from 4-3-3 to 5-3-2 to 3-4-3, even in one match. And he demands similar things from individual players. Wijnaldum was strongest in Oranje when he played as a 10, close by Memphis. He had goals and assists and was Oranje’s most prolific player under Koeman. De Boer changed it and used Wijnaldum as a box-to-box player, in a more serving role. Frenkie de Jong can play central mid in a controlling manner, he can play centre back and he play the playmaking left midfielder too. Koopmeiners has demonstrated to be able to play centre back and midfielder, while Klaassen and Van de Beek are capable of playing on the 10 spot, as box-to-box player and if need be as holding mids.
Up top the expectations for Memphis are high. Koeman used the Lyon forward as a striker. Under Frank de Boer Memphis need to be satisfied with a role from the left side. This allows for De Boer to use Luuk de Jong, an out and out number 9. As a result, the prolific duo of Wijnaldum and Depay is no longer coupled as a duo.
De Boer likes to see the Wijnaldum of Liverpool, just like he wants the box always to be “manned” by a number 9. In this way, Memphis has the freedom to roam and play where he feels he has the most threat. De Boer: “Players of that quality will always shine. You underestimate Gini and Memphis when you think they have to play close to each other to be excellent. Nonsense.” De Boer doesn’t want to push Memphis in a defensive role though. “It’s of course not the plan for Memphis to have to chase after Kyle Walker. Playing strong opponents might well mean that we will adjust. This is the flexibility I require.”