Frenkie remains humble

Hi all, sadly no more time to write a specific post on the Austria game.

I personally think it will be a tough match for us, even without Arnautavic involved. They’re an experienced team, physically and tactically disciplined. This could wel end in a 2-2 result or something like that, I wouldn’t be surprised if we would choke on this opponent.

But, being positive as I am, I will call 3-0 for Oranje. Goals by Wijnaldum, Memphis and Malen.

Leave me your prognosis below in the comments.

And leave me some beer money while you’re at it :-). Covid hurt this blog and blogger too… You can now also decide to donate crypto. it seems to be going down anyway…

Your gift is appreciated

The AD newspaper had a nice insightful interview with Frenkie de Jong.

For someone who is usually showered with superlatives and compliments, he hardly uses them himself. More to the contrary. When you start paying attention it becomes comical, even. In this particular interview, which took an hour, he used words like “not bad” and “pretty ok” around 12 times. The only time he uses the word “amazing” is when he mentions Messi.

We’re halfway the interview, talking about his role in this Dutch Netherlands team at these Euros. “If I can reach my usual level, I have a fair chance to get minutes,”. He says it with conviction. As if this is not the best and most popular Dutch player of the moment. And it’s not a false modesty. He is like this. Calm, balanced and analytical. He’s self conscious but also highly self critical. He finds it easy to put things into perspective, as a result, the hysteria surrounding him doesn’t really affect him.

He’s got a smile almost plastered on his face, but it’s not like he’s without tribulations. It appears as if he floats through life, but the people who know him well will tell you this is definitely not the case. Frenkie was convinced of his talent and ambitions when he was still quite young. “We watched the World Cup 2014 at home, with friends and family. And from a certain age, I felt…yes, I want that. And I always felt that one day, I would be at a big tournament. I was 12 years old and had the complete conviction.”

Frenkie is a modest kid, grew up in the small town of Arkel. A normal, fun of the mill family. Dad is parking guard in Delft and his little brother plays there with the local amateurs. Parking guard is probably the exact opposite of the position Frenkie has in life. “But my dad loves his job. He’s a lot in the outside open air, riding his bike and he knows a lot of people in Delft. He’s not the guy who will fine you, he’ll probably talk to you to get you to change your behaviour.”

Frenkie’s journey to his first big tournament was relatively long. The missing of the World Cup 2018 happened just before his break through in Oranje. And when Koeman’s Oranje qualified for the 2020 Euros, it got postponed with a full year due to Corona.

“I don’t feel young anymore. I am not a rookie anymore, you know. But playing your first tournament is super special. I’m enjoying and I talked about it with the lads that were at the 2014 World Cup. And it has started to really sink in, now the domestic leagues have finished. The commercials on telly, the orange jerseys, I love it. As long as I don’t have to be in one.”

While many of this colleagues opted for a week holiday in Dubai or Ibiza, De Jong went home to Arkel to recharge his batteries. “I didn’t feel tired. We didn’t perform well in the last part of the season with Barca, but it wasn’t fatigue. We simply had to beat Granada at home and take the lead in the Liga. We had a good spell before that game. And then the draw against Levante and the belief seeped out of the team. It was mainly mental. As if we kept on chasing our tail.”

You gave yourself a 6,5 for the season in the newspaper Trouw, after your first season. What is the grade for this one?

“No, hahaha, it was a 6 actually. I don’t know for this season. I my personal performances were better than last season, but we missed the title, we got kicked out of the CL pretty early and despite the national cup, we had a mediocre if not bad season. When you play at Barca, you want more. The season itself wasn’t dramatic, we had a fantastic comeback and played some good stuff, but at the end of the day: not good enough.”

So, that means one point more?

“I would say, half a point.”

But your personal stats went up, like Koeman wanted from you?

“When Koeman came in, I had a talk about my role in the team. And he was clear: he wanted me to be more offensive and add to the team’s goal tally. He kept on saying: you’re a big money signing, you need to start making the difference, you need to take responsibility. He put more pressure on me and I loved it.”

Under Koeman, he did play on several positions. He played in the holding role, he played a number of games as centre back and the final part of the season more and more in the attacking mid role. He made quite an impression in that position.

“I do like scoring goals, but it depends on your role for the team. At Ajax and initially at Barca I played in the holding role. You are the first station in the build up and you determine pace, and direction, you try to start the engine. When you’re a more offensive mid, you are station 2, in a way. You are higher up the pitch, and you aim to be decisive, with a dribble, or a through ball… I played well in that role, I had my best games in that position. And in the Cup Final (Copa del Rey) it was probably very visible, with a goal and two assists.”

“I prefer the midfielders role, either holding or forward. I prefer not to play too far back, as you are more a lock on the door than a real playmaker. And playing in the #10 role is also not my preference as you are more in a sort of waiting mode, waiting for the players behind you to find you. I prefer to be more involved, hence my preference for midfield. The ball is there most often. I basically want to have the ball, hahahaha.”

He assimilated into Barcelona life with ease it seems. The city, the magnitude of the club, the media, the players group… it all went smooth. As if it was normal that a kid from Arkel played in the Bluegrana jersey. Where Donny van de Beek, Steven Bergwijn, Hakim Ziyech and before them Memphis Depay had serious issues settling in another country and club.

“The ideal moment to go abroad is different for everyone. You can’t say “you need 150 Eredivisie games before you go”. I think it’s different per player. Some are ready when 18, others are ready when they’re 27. I did feel more settled the second season, I think that is actually quite normal. Barca paid something like 80 million for me, and that puts a lot of pressure and expectations on you, but I will remain who I am. They bought me for how I played at Ajax so that is how I’ll play here. I won’t become a different person.”

How is it now in your second season along side Messi? Does your relationship change, now you’re there a bit longer?

“I met him first when we had a friendly against Arsenal. He came later due to the Copa America. I shook his hand, I am not sure if he mentioned his name. Not that he had to, hahaha. I told him my name. But Messi… I am still humbled to play with him. He is so amazingly good. He has so much status. And you can understand, when I have the ball and I can play the ball to Messi or to another player, well… if they’re both in a good position, I’ll pick Messi. Isn’t that the best thing to do?”

How was it to see him blossom again this season?

“I think he’s very happy at Barca. I hope he stays, he’s so important for us. In the dressing room we act as per normal with one another, but I don’t ask him about his future, or app him to ask him to stay. That is up to him. When I was 12 years old, he already was the best of the world. He won the Ballon D’Or, right? And now I play with him :-). That is just amazing. And I realise it every day that I play with him now.”

The Spanish media are now also very focused on Frenkie. “It’s extreme, it’s 12 times worse or more intense in Spain. There are tv programs on football that literally broadcast 24/7. And they sometimes just make it up, you know?”

The Dutch football fans will have their eyes set on Frenkie de Jong, but the expectations aren’t that high. Frenkie gets that: “If you do go to a tournament, you need to go to win it. Otherwise, why go? But you need to be realistic too: France – to name one – is favorite I think. Look at that squad! And there are about 8 nations that can win it and I think we are part of that eight. We’ll need to focus on every game as they come and not talk about the title now. Let’s earn that privilege.”


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  1. Agree! Frenkie really has a chance to be a star for us. I hope that Barcelona can build around him and that he can have real success there!

    On France, everyone’s favorite for this tournament, my teenaged son’s assessment — “They have the best team in the world, and as soon as they get a one-goal lead, they turn into Brighton…” He doesn’t seem to be a Deschamps fan 🙂

    Finally, watching Turkey and Wales, Aaron Ramsey seems to be at his best playing for his country. Just plays with a freedom, comfort and creativity. It’s amazing what playing with confidence can do…

    1. Agree! In my opinion they won the World Cup in spite of Deschamps. The problem is they are still so dangerous when defending a lead. Kante is always a danger to win the ball and then Pogba plays beautiful longs balls for Mbappe. Germany were lucky not to concede again.

  2. For whatever reason, I keep missing the Italian games. I just watched the last 10 minutes of the first half against the Swiss, and Italy seem in complete control, just completely calm in possession and unfazed by any pressure. Usually, they’re so full of Juventus players that it’s easy to understand how cohesively they work together, but this year, they have many clubs featured — Milan, Juve, Roma, Napoli, Sassuolo, Inter and Lazio. Their final group match vs Wales should hopefully be very exciting!

  3. I really want us to avoid Portugal in the second round because if we come first and they come third in their group there is a big chance we play them and I hate them and we always do very bad against them, but if we manage to avoid the third from that Germany/France/Portugal group and if we get the third from group D or E instead (based on the draw), then we play the WINNER from Russia/Wales (assuming both come second in their groups) in the quarter finals and that would take us to the semifinal. in conclusion, if we manage to win that second round then semifinal is highly possible and from there on everything becomes possible 🙂

    1. As I mentioned earlier, Group B can be taken out of the equation now given Russia beat Finland 1-0. denmark and russia will be the decider and if either wins, wont make much difference. if russia wins, they will go through as runners up from the groups with 4 points and if Denmarks wins then all three , Denmark, Finland and Russia will finish with 3 points each. I dont think Belgium will drop points with either Finland or Denmark. so Group B is definitely out of the race now for 3rd best team qualifying because you need at least 4 points to qualify. with this it comes down to either of 3D,3E,F.

      I also said that group A is weak group and have to eat my words after wales beats Turkey 2-0.if Switzerland beats turkey they will come into contention for qualifying with 4 points. in this case , it will come down to either of 3F or 3D. as it stands its either Croatia or Germany. things could change if turkey and Switzerland ends in a draw or if Turkey wins.

      1. I’m rooting hard for Turkey now to tie or beat Switzerland. If that happens, considering Turkey’s -5 goals against, we should be off the hook from group F.

  4. @Wilson, you are correct, usually all best third placed teams get 4 points but the funny part is that Portugal in 2016 was an exception to the rule and qualified with three stupid draws with Austria, Hungary and A THIRD TEAM I forgot. three points from three matches they qualify as one of the 4 best three placed team and they go to win the tournament, lucky bastards !!!

  5. It’s tough to write-off third place teams, as you can finish in third with 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 points, so we never really know until it’s over. For example, if Switzerland and Turkey draw the final game, Group A’s third place team would have 2 points. If Germany/Hungary lose both of their games to Portugal/France and then tie each other, then they both finish with 1 point.

    What I’m predicting:
    Group A: Switzerland finishes on 2 points
    Group B: Belgium wins out, Denmark beats Russia, and 3rd place has 3 points
    Group C: Everyone beats Macedonia, Ukraine and Austria draw, 3rd place has 4 points
    Group D: I think England wins out, and then Czech can squeeze a draw with Croatia to finish on 4 points
    Group E: This one’s hard to call, but I’m going to say Sweden finish 3rd with 3 draws
    Group F: I think Portugal/France win their games against Hungary/Germany, and Germany beat Hungary to finish on 3.

    So I have B, C, D, and E going through. I think that Germany are going to win 1-0 over Hungary and let in a few to Portugal and have worse goal difference.

  6. Although I would like to be as optimistic and the rest of you, I’m going to take this tournament one match at a time. Next up is Austria and then Macedonia. If we can continue to grow and progress, then I’ll worry about who we might face in the knockout rounds. But we need to get there first…

    We dominated the match against Ukraine, a team that repeatedly played the ball right back to us whenever we lost possession. I’m not normally a stats guy, but we had over 60% possession, more than double their shots (15-7), and almost a 90% passing rate. Yet we needed a Dumfries header in the 85th minute to actually win the game. That is not nearly good enough to contend for this title. You can make lots of excuses, but at the end, we were only just barely good enough to defeat Ukraine. Austria is a similar level, maybe slightly better than our first opponent. Let’s see if we can defeat them convincingly before we start worrying about pairings one or two steps further into the knockout rounds…

    We certainly have the talent to do so. Let’s see if de Boer can assemble the team and the tactics to get it done…

      1. What is Timber’s best position? Been impressed with him at CB but it definitely seems like he has the attributes on the ball to play as RB are holding mid.

  7. To replace De Roon we need a holding midfielder, defensively strong. I think Timber can fill that gap. Can’t see other players who can fill the holding midfielder role. Another option is to retreat De Jong to holding midfielder and insert Gravenberch but this is too risky.

  8. Denmark is dominating the first 25 minutes of this match. My son has spent almost the entire 25 minutes berating me about how stupid Belgium is for playing a back three. His point essentially is that you’re the number one team in the world and you’ve devoted three of your ten outfield positions to players who lack attacking talent, and then spend all of your time in possession allowing those three players to pass the ball to each other. Your top attacking talent is isolated up front and never touching the ball. I’m cheering for the Danes but am inclined to agree with him 🙂

    1. Now he’s moved on to Dendoncker and how’s actually just another center back who will never turn with the ball in the midfield. I’ve just turned the sound down and let him provide the color commentary.

  9. I like Damsgaard for Denmark. Young attacking player with lots of energy and acceleration. We need more frontline players like him for Oranje. Still stunned at how Belgium (even without E. Hazard and De Bruyne) is just getting completed outplayed by the Danes going into the half.

  10. As expected, Timber out, De ligt in, no other changes. Austria is no pushover, lots of Bundesliga talent, and Sabitzer is a very good midfielder.

  11. Well, I guess that de Bruyne’s talent makes Roberto Martinez’s tactics function much better 🙂

    Looking forward to the match-up vs Austria and de Ligt’s return. This should be his first major tournament as well, so hopefully he steps up to the challenge.

  12. Poor guy Timber he did not play in 3 games for us….De ligt would add aerial supermacy..our problem is not De ligt or Timber( we are lucky to have them…)Really irretated to see dumfires and his woodenfeet at right wing where he has no duty for defense..glad to see Annholt instead of winjdal….
    koopmeiners for De roon and Timber for Dumfires…thast the changes we should see…anything less is comical..anyway biased,naive,negative cowardous dutch coaches spoils dutch chances always..After seeing match of Denmark ,i am sure denmark would easily beat us if we play some non quality players..

  13. Actually Austria has kinda been able to cancel The Netherlands thus far. 532 not working, our players always second to the ball, and asleep occasionally. Whatever they’re trying to do is not working.

  14. What a transformation. We go from the best game of tournament against Ukraine to the most boring against Austria. Countless bad passes and no vision. Scrappy and boring. Get that 2nd goal and then goof around. Or not.

  15. Is it a sacrilege taking out Depay and playing someone else for a half especially while we lead and he is basically playing crap. Maybe he needs a rest and maybe we can get someone who doesn’t try to be Messi anytime a ball falls in his feet. We should have finished this game already.

  16. I think Austria and Netherlands cancel each other and I think 532 is working well. Nobody will replace Memphis as he and Weghorst need to learns how to work with each other. I see attempts towards that from Weghorst, whereas Memphis has not showed that yet. He is still attituding. With De Roon having a yellow card, he will be replaced in the second half and most likely by Koopmeiners. Wijnaldum does not play as good as he did with Ukraine but most likely because Austrians closed him. If the game goes this way, 1:0 could be a final score.

  17. Happy about the result. Memphis was extremely frustrating. Defense played much better than in the first game. I think we are getting better and better. Next time I would let Malen and Weghorst play together.

  18. I think Netherlands become the 1st team to become Group Winner ! While Italy & Belgium has qualified for the knockout phase, they still need the last game to decide Group Winner

  19. Defensively much better than first match. But in terms of build up we need to improve further. We need Depay to improve. However good to win 1st place after just two matches. I expected worse.

        1. just saying. Austria were never looked likely to score. the reactions and gesture from Austrain fans said it all and so the commentators. they simply lacked the cutting edge. Ukraine had it. they scored 2 vs NT.The same I would say for Nothern Macrdonia. they are are physical and fast but neither are up to the level of NT. If I have to rate this NT, I would rate them with Croatia, Denmark, Spain, Maybe sweden.

          1. I do not think these comparisons are relevant. Every game is so situational.

  20. Disappointing game against a mediocre austrian side. Austria along with Hungary are most mediocre teams of this tournament. We should have scored at least 4, EASILY. For whatever reasons our sloppy midfield kept misplacing passes when having acres of space to open attackers. Gosh, when I compare Italy’s performance and passion against Swiss yesterday I kinda understand why they have 4 WC titles. And there is np reason why Malen should get less time than Depay. He set up the 2nd goal for Dumfries and was much more active. I don’t see much in Wijndal either and Weghorst maybe only need to play in certain situations. In the end by luck we may go up to quarterfinals which will ensure FDB presence until the WC.

    1. I think it was a good game: we completely shut down Austria which is by far not a mediocre team. 1/3 of all teams in the competition are comparable with Austria. It was not as entertaining as the first game but it was more strategic. We achieved everything what we planned for this stage: got first place after just two games and can test more players while playing Macedonia. I have some questions to Memphis, particularly his attitude. He again plays with this annoying swagger that badly irritates me. He gets older but does not mature at all.

    2. We win ! And become the 1st team to become Group Winner. Doesn’t it enough ? Before the competition begin, lots of people here said we will have difficulties just to qualify to the 2nd round, dumfries not good enough, de roon not good at all, etc

  21. For the next game with NM, I hope FDB will not change 532 formation but will let Koopmeiners and Malen play from the start. I am worried about Dumfries as he might have a groin issue.

  22. I just want to point out something . You see how wijnaldum is fading as he plays more. this is what I was saying about his consistency. he started brightly with Ukraine but had very little impact in this game. again something to look out going forward.

    1. No, he does not. In your own words, Austria is a dangerous team with Bundesliga contingent. Our midfield completely dominated their midfield. Of those 3 midfielders, in your opinion, Wijnaldum is fading out and De Roon is useless. Do you see the problem here with your argument?

  23. Dumfries continues to make me eat my words. He may be a candidate for the golden boot! If we win this tournament, it will be on a Dumfries van Basten-esque volley.

    Or maybe I need to continue to criticize him so that he’ll continue to do well — “Dumfries has no skill, no talent, no tactical awareness, no business being on the team and fades in clutch situations” — we’ll see if that works!

  24. I did know how old Belgium team is. The average age is 30+. The oldest team of the tournament. In the first half they were outplayed by Denmark, then substitutions put everything in order.

  25. So many negative comments. Given the circumstances and having de boer as coach. I think we are doing quite good in terms of results. Would it be enough? I don’t know, at least the team is quite physical (for my taste).

    Why don’t you guys celebrate, however the victory has been achieved. If we had lost and draw, some would be pounding ultra negative comments.


    1. I agree! I thought it was a very good performance overall. Yes the finishing was poor and Depay didn’t have a good game but come on!

      Frenkie was absolutely world class today. I also thought Gini and PVA stood out, and the back three used the ball well and weren’t really troubled defensively. Other than a couple of short periods we basically dominated the game and played through the lines with ease. Given what we saw in the pre-tournament games I don’t get how you can be disappointed with this performance.

      The calls to bench Memphis are completely insane. He is our most important attacking player and should always be out there when the game is in the balance. Even with his poor performance he scored the penalty and it was his hold-up play and through ball that lead to the second goal. That’s what top players do – even when they’re not at their best they still find a way to make an impact.

      1. I agree, i don’t get why so many negative comments. We played a more mature game than the game against Ukraine and got the result but people are so unhappy. I also think it is fair to give De Boer credit. He is getting the 5-3-2 formation working. We were on the downward trend even before Koeman left and this is the first time I saw us playing some good football in a while.

  26. Lol, so many negative comments, if i wouldn’t have watched the game, i will think we played a shit game. We played a very good game, bossing the whole game, give Austria no chance and scored two goals.

  27. Just finished watching the game. Overall, a really good performance. Some things I thought interesting:

    —De ligt played centrally and De Vrij played on the right.

    —Van Aanholt had a strong game. Both wingbacks, really. Dumfries is a horse; the way he can get up to speed and maintain over long runs. Both he and Van Aanhold did good defensive work as well.

    —De Roon did some good, heavy defensive work, especially in the first half.

    —Weghorst did not have a great game. Love his spirit, but today his touches and offensive imagination just wasn’t there.

    —Frenkie was terrific; he and Gini are playing well together. Neither seemed to play as far forward or with the offensive aggression they played with in the first game. Might have been the heat and playing two games in four days, especially after the first game when both, amped up by the Euro opening, were really bustng it. Might also have been because they got some instructions to stay a little deeper to close up that soft spot that opened up behind them on several occasions against Ukraine. (You would expect that De Roon would be there, but with Dumfries pushed so far up the field, he slides to the right leaving that to the middle CD—De Vrij against Ukraine—but sometimes because of numbers or positioning he couldn’t get there)

    —With De Jong and Gini playing a little further back, they weren’t as dynamic over the 90 minutes as against Ukraine, so the slower build up did get bogged down for several phases. At the same time the team sut Austria down, gave Sabitzer no room, and the chances did come, I thought they easily could have scored at least 4.

    —Defenses know how dangerous Depay is; they tilt towards him creating space for others.

    —For Monday’s game, I’d like to see them sit Blind, Wijnaldum. Maybe play Malen instead of Weghorst. Perhaps De ligt only plays a portion of the game by design.

    —Putting the individual performance aside, I thought they played well as a team, the players fitting well with one another. Looking forward to seeing them tested against a big team.

  28. I actually liked this game more than the Ukraine’s. The team definitely controlled the game for 90mins and Austria was totally shut-out. there is obviously much better understanding among the players in the 5-3-2 setup, pressing the Austrians and covering well for each other. I saw a lot of movements which provide options for player on the ball. Weghorst and Dumfries’s physical strength is important to keep the opponents on their toes. De Roon kept things tidy and allowed De Jong and Wijnaldum to play creative.
    Only complaint is that team can be more clinical. Could have easily scored more goals. But overall, gameplay is pleasing to watch I feel.
    Let’s see whether such measured performance can be maintained against bigger teams.

  29. We played a good match. Performance was better against Ukraine – enough to say that passing accuracy was 90% against Ukraine (highest of the tournament so far) and 82% against Austria. But defensively we were better against Austria. The only player i’m still not convinced of is De Roon … Memphis can improve his game definitely, but don’t forget that he was crucial in both goals yesterday (he set up Malen for the run).

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