German victory for Oranje…

Oh the irony… Gary Lineker once defined football as a game “between two teams of eleven and at the end of the game, Germany wins…”. Last night, Lineker tweeted: “Who ever said that doesn’t know a thing about football”…

We can immensely enjoy the result vs the Germans and we are clearly not alone. The English can always appreciate a good German thumping.

And what a hammer blow it was. Because let’s be honest: we didn’t deserve it. Germany played well. Didn’t have a big game 4 days ago. Played at home. Nothing to play for, but their coach and their reputation. Low fielding a number of highly talented youngsters and they took the game by the neck.

Good goals, good attacks, lots of movement and the right tactics.

The Germans populated the midfield. In their 3-4-3, Holland had trouble taking on their midfield and was second best on all levels. The only thing worse than Oranje was the pitch. Terrible surface, not doing us many favours.

But we got the draw in the end, and we won the Division A, a group where criticasters believed we had no right to be in. And would never be able to top. While only 5 months ago documentaries were produced to show how terrible the state of football was in The Netherlands and how every expert (bar some) proclaimed how Holland needed to go to Germany or France and learn from their ways of working. Because we lost our edge and didn’t know what we were doing…

And very untypical for the Dutch, we now got the wind in our back and where everything turned against us under Hiddink/Blind, under this coach, everything seems to fall in its place. The Germans could have scored 3 more but failed. And we were able to grab the point we needed in German fashion right at the death.

Euphoria and joy, after 94 minutes.

But pointing fingers, screaming and gesticulating after 20 minutes. Ronald Koeman sees how badly his team started. Lethargic. Slow. Lack of communication. Wijnaldum picks up the signs from the desperate coach and receives instructions. He brings the messages to his team mate, but not much improves. In the first 20 minutes, we concede two goals, only have 40% possession and did not have a single opportunity to put Neuer to work.

Stats that do remind us of the Hiddink/Blind era. Koeman had to go for Plan B. Which was Luuk de Jong as target man and Virgil van Dijk as his partner striker.

That tactics was handed to Koeman, on a little note. “I didn’t come up with this. Apparently my assistants Kees van Wonderen and Dwight Lodeweges were talking in the first half how to force a beakthrough. They gave me this during the second half and we went for it.”

The comeback does fit the trajectory Oranje is in, under the new coach. He’s pragmatic, he can switch systems, created a good vibe between the players and he makes his own luck.

Germany starts with an aggressive tactics. Three forwards, playing close together, with two wingbacks playing high up. And one v one at the back. The four midfielders had the better of the Dutch midfield and in particular De Roon on the right hand side was constantly forced to decide: do I press high and take on Kroos or support Tete and allow Kroos space to penetrate? He did both and in in each scenario was Germany able to score. The central defenders weren’t capable to press up, as the third forward would have a free run into space. In the second half, partly due to injuries (Dilrosun and Babel), Koeman switched it with pushing Frenkie back as centre back and using a 3-4-3 to mirror Germany.

Promes scored Holland’s first from a central position. “The coach told us in the half time break, if we don’t concede anymore and score 2-1, we will go and make it 2-2. He was right.”

Promes played as Steven Bergwijn was injured (ankle) and wasn’t in the selection. Dumfries wasn’t 100% either so Koeman decided to switch the pair. Tete, considered a better defender than Dumfries, was brought in, in particular to take care of Sane. The Olympique Lyon defender had a bad night as Sane showed Low why he always needs to play.

The Man City player demonstrated his quality with the 2-0, when he slipped away from De Ligt and got a lucky deflection to score 2-0. Holland really didn’t have a lot to say. The only opportunity we had, was a header by Sule on a Blind cross, which cleared the bar.

In the second half, Germany kept on going where they left off. Wijnaldum played an invisible match and was subbed for the energetic Vilhena. Holland started to play a bit more ballsy and with Luuk de Jong for the unfortunate Dilrosun, there was a swagger coming into the team. The Frenkie de Jong block tackle on Sane’s attempt, followed by an excellent shot by Memphis on the German goal gave us a snippet of what was to come. In the 86th minute , Holland was patiently trying to find an opening when Luuk de Jong laid off to De Roon who passed into Promes. The Sevilla man used the body of Hummels as a shield to curve the ball into the corner: 2-1.

The final minutes were electric. Koeman pushed Van Dijk forward next to De Jong and it was the energy and belief of Vilhena, who played well as a sub, which kept the ball alive. He took it off Kroos’ foot, dribbled close to the corner flag to whip it in with his powerful left. Kimmich got a nothing header flick on the ball, making it a tad harder for Virgil, but like Marco van Basten, he volleyed the ball brilliantly out of reach of Neuer: 2-2.

And so: Holland wins this Group 1, and will go to Portugal next summer, with Portugal, England and Switzerland.

Not a fantastic performance, but an exhilarating battle all the same. Van Dijk was the hero, but we did see more good performances. I thought Blind was important, with his composure on the ball and his experience in the final minutes of the game. Frenkie didn’t shine as per usual, but again demonstrated guile and elegance. De Roon for me was one of the key man in the team. Totally understandable why he’s on the pitch, but I do think he’ll have to battle for a spot with Davy Propper.

Promes, Memphis, Babel, they were ok. Worked for the team, were threatening. Wijnaldum and Tete appeared to have a bit of an off day, while Vilhena and Luuk de Jong both had a great turn in the team, lifting the energy and belief.

Add Dilrosun, Danjuma, Van de Beek, Rosario, Bergwijn, De Vrij, Ake, Janmaat, Van Aanholt, Propper, Klaassen, Berghuis, Kluivert and there is quite a solid squad in the making.

We can have closure this year, knowing that despite missing the World Cup, Dutch football is back at the top. We have it all to play for with a very young and talented team and a pragmatic coach who taught us what winning is again. And who made us remember how fun it is, to win.

Now lets win that Nations League next year, as the money the KNVB makes at that tournament can be put to good use, to help clubs with artificial pitches in Holland to throw these out and go back to grass again. How it is supposed to be.

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  1. Excellent article and analysis Jan! Keep up the good work!

    These are the kind of games that show a team has really progressed. Getting a result even when you are playing bad or below your standards. A year ago, this team would have folded and lost 3-0.

    I felt Koeman’s first half set up of the team was risky. We were pressing the Germans and playing a high defensive line. All we needed was a draw. The Germans love to counter-attack and the first two goals showed how lethal they can be. I felt some of the players looked a bit tired or lost concentration. De Ligt and Tete were partially responsible for the two goals we conceded. The good thing is that De Ligt was composed and improved in the second half.

    Van Dijk with his equalizer and overall performance was the man of the match. Frenkie had a subdued game and Memphis was as energetic as ever.

    We still have a lot to improve but we are definitely on the right track with Koeman and I believe the future is bright orange!

  2. God was very generous with us last night. Vilhena (of whom I am not a big fan) was key with his energetic and aggressive runs. L deJong also put pressure on the tall german defence. I think we could have avoided the terrible stat by sitting back instead of attacking. These guys were exhausted by the France game and we only needed a draw. Not complaining though. These type of tests are critical to character forming for these young players. They know now that persistence until whistle blows can pay off. We definitely need a keeper and an attacker. Someone like Huntelaar would be perfect but not sure if we have anyone like him at the moment.

  3. good times ahead for NT. both the U19 and U20 also recorded emphatic wins over the international break. U 19s won the 4 nations beating Germany, Portugal and Armenia.Redan off course leading the goal tally with 2 goals. Gravenberch and bakker also with stand out performance. the whole squad of 23 players were involved in this competition which was again as I said earlier gave the coaches more time than usual to gauge the players before qualifications starts later on. I think this time around if the team fails with these talents the coaches shouldn’t have any excuses.

    the u20s also beat Switzerland 3-1 and Italy 3-2 respectively and are currently leading the euro elite league. gakpo, vente and lang stand out performers in this one. gakpo with 4 fours while land with 3 assists and a goal.

    looking at both the u19s and u20s the u19s looks overall a better team and im not sure what will happen when these guys collide at u21 will be one hell of a competition and I hope Kees van Wonderen can be given the green light again to lead this group like he did for the u17s in the euros.

    1. Ya gotta like that, Wilson. Thanks for posting the update.

      Cruyff et al. set things in motion, I believe. And now the kids are flowing into the space.

      Then again, it’s easy to feel good after winning our group. Thanks very much for the write-up, Jan. The story behind Koeman’s Note will live forever.

      Hup, Holland!

  4. Hi all, yes good things are happening.

    I personally believe our coach was at fault for the goals, not so much Tete. He could have done better, sure, but we were outdone by their tactics (3-4-3) which resulted in them having an extra man in midfield. Koeman should have responded immediately going back to a 4-4-2 with Promes in midfield and Babel and Memphis up top. But that’s me.

    Tete was constantly overpowered with their man more and De Roon was drowning.

    It didn’t help that Wijnaldum had an off day.

    But all our top dogs had a not-so-great day, including Frenkie and De Ligt indeed.

  5. Guys , Since Depay will be our main super striker for the next upcoming Euro and World Cup , who will be the best to be his let and right will wingers?

    How would you rate them? ( excluding Babel as I think he’s passed his peak already )

    Mine would be :

    1 Bergwijn
    2. Arnaut Danjuma
    3. Javairo dilrosun
    4. Chong
    5. Stengs
    6. Kluivert

    How would you compare these boys ?

    I haven’t included Redan as I have. A feeling he would become our next super striker what do u guys think ?

    Two years from now we’ll see a much mature oranje which is stronger than the oranje team that has beaten France and Germany

    1. Not sure the talents from your list whether they can develop & end up on right way or not but what i can see so far is

      – Dominant: van Dijk,de Jong,de Ligt, Memphis, Dumfries. With these guys in good form that’s main key that we can play dominated Germany & France with not only good result but also good possession & defense home games & acceptable away games.

      – Solid: Wijnadum, Roon, Blind, Ake, de Vrij, Vihena, TeTe, Babel, Hoedt, Hateboer,Strootman, Promes, Aanholt, Kongolo.
      – Conclusion: We need more world class players especially more Depay & de Jong.

      1. You know what , wijnaldum is another concern to me

        When he has a good day , he will score a goal and become the match changer

        However , his consistency is a real worry

        I’m not so sure if he should be our defInate starter or if someone more stable take up his position

    2. Babel so far has exceeded my expectations as Memphis’ strike partner. I had completely given up on him long ago, so it is a surprise to see him back. Memphis/Babel have developed a great chemistry and look for each other when the attack is building.

      However, as good as Babel is doing, I don’t think his spot is still up for grabs.
      I think Danjuma looked good. His goal versus Belgium showed precision and most importantly calmness in front of goal. We haven’t seen Chong or Stengs yet. Both of them look great prospects, so I can’t wait to see them. Kluivert needs to play regularly and lock down his spot at Roma. Dilrosun came off as soon as he got on so it’s hard to say. Bergwijn did enough versus France. Redan is doing great. Another exciting player moving up the ranks very quickly. I don’t know if he’ll be ready for Euro 2020.

      There will be fierce competition once these guys enter their prime. It’s all about who keeps working hard and takes advantages of the chances they get. I just hope they don’t make mistakes with their career choices that robbed us of talent in the past.

  6. Sorry I forgot to include Quincy Promes and vilhena . But …… will these two still be in our euro squad ?

    I’m struggling as I think Promes will
    Be but is he really needed ??

    1. I think it will come down to who is playing consistently, which team they are playing for, champions league, europa league and so on.last but not least injuries as well.lets dont forget what happened to strootman in 2014. Plus there is another transfer window looming which might vaccate and create spaces at the same time.players like Bruma and Locadia have all ready indicated they want to move to a new club.the winter break will also see players who are in the final stage of recovery to get back on track with teams going on camps.

      If im not wrong than the finals for the nation league is june after the completion of all the leagues and then the qualifications start in september with the 2019/ 2020 season. There is still alot of time for anothers to knock on the door.I mean you look at groeneveld, he just moved to club brugge in jan but still his performance caught the attention of koeman eye.

      Should be intresting.

    2. Vilhena has Energy,He is not a bad choice,he is the Equlizer.Honestly He is more a threat in final third than kuyt with same work rate..
      Kluivert is not ready..Babel is getting old.Then its Depay,Danjuma,Berjwin is confirmed ones
      on second tier its Promes,Berghuiskluivert,Dilruson,Redan,Chong and stengs
      i would go with Redan,Promes and Stengs.

      1. Quite a bit of talent for the wide positions showing up—Kluivert, Stengs, Berweijn, Dilrosun, Danjuma, at present, Mallen, Redan, Gakpo, and some others I’m sure I’m missing presently a rung below in development—is heartening. Its hard to know which one of them will break through to a higher level. Berweijn is the furthest along, and looks good (and I continue to believe that Kluivert has a very high ceiling). The chances are that at a couple will, so its all very heartening. At least for the Nations League finals, and coming (March?) qualifiers, I’d think Babel will have a spot. As for the actual Euro’s, those will be two more years on his legs so who knows.

        I have no worries about Wijnaldum in the midfield. Almost everyone played like they had a hangover in the Germany game.

        Re: Vilhena. Alot to like. Atletic and tenacious, good ball skills. He came in with 30 minutes left and did what you want a sub to do, play fast and hard, and inject some life. But to be honest, Tiju, I’m not understanding the comment about him being more dangerous than Kuyt who came up as a striker and could put the ball in the net, while Vilhenais more of a deeper mf guy. Oh well, Koeman has done a pretty nice job so far, so I’m happy to leave it up to his call. 😉

  7. thanks guys
    Yeah I got the same feeling with Danjuma

    I mean there aren’t many that score on their debut and he just got that mature mentality at such a young age . Not only for oranje but he also scored in the champions league . I really hope he will move to a bigger league where he will Continue to grow

    Yes Babel is getting older round the clock . We have to get the right players reaching their top by the time it’s word cup

    Bergwijn will definitely get one of those spot but he must improve and score more goals as a striker

    Kluivert- we’d been talking about him before and let’s give him another two years to see what he got. To be honest there aren’t a few that can succeed their fathers ( Daley blind !!!’ Hahahahahaha….)

    Promes – he has something and would be good in 2nd half coming in when the opposition is getting tired

    . But the only thing that bothers me is that I think he has always shown everting he can do . And he is no where close to Our usual wingers

    Stengs – not yet proven

    Chong – wasting every single day under mourinho

    Redan – I got a feeling that he will become an oranje beast . 2020 will be his show time

    1. I dont think chong is ready for man united main team and the best thing for him would be to be loaned out to bundaliga similar to Reiss Nelson (Arsenal) and jadon sancho (dortmund)
      Looking from his performance for the jong orange I dont think he is any where near to dethroning rasford or Lingard who have both established themselves both at Club and international level. He sometimes looks spoilt with his over dribbling.he must lean to keep things simple sometimes.
      Defintely he looks a cut above the rest at man united u21 but I think he still needs to catch some grounds to be able to compete with likes of rasford and lingard.

      1. Well analysis and good to know that

        Seems we really have to give him another two years then if that’s the case . I didn’t see how he played for Jong Oranje ..

  8. Brobbey also is a beast at 16. You look at this guys physic you cant tell he is 16.he is currently with the u19s who also are featuring in UFEA youth league. In my opinion this guy will soon surpass the likes of sierhuis in jong Ajax who I dont think will make it big at Ajax.

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