Oops!! I forgot to give you my prediction!!
Well, I think we will win this 3-1. The Turks will score a late consolation goal. I think we’ll grab them by the throat and score an early goal (15 minutes or so) via Huntelaar. This will allow us to settle and before half time it’s Depay or Sneijder scoring a second. In the second half, almost an hour in,we score a third. Probably again Huntelaar. Hiddink will make some changes (Huntelaar, Sneijder, Wijnaldum) and the Turks will be able to score a cheap goal.
With RVP and Robben sidelined, most people are keen to find out what Guus is doing for the Turkey match. This match, remember, is a must-win match. The Spain friendly is irrelevant. It’s probably relevant for the Spanish, as they will want revenge. But we don’t really care. If we lose against Turkey, we can’t be bothered. And if we win against Turkey, we probably can’t be bothered either :-).
I mean, winning against Spain is all well and good, but it won’t bring us closer to the Euro.
So all eyes are on Guus and his lads. Guus, who used to coach Turkey. One would almost forget. The campaigns he had with South Korea and Australia will never be forgotten. His previous Oranje stint was shabby either. But the Russian job was ok but the Turks decided to let the man go. But Turkey didn’t improve after Hiddink. Far from it actually.
But today, he’s ours again. The journeyman used his influence to get rivals Huntelaar and Van Persie to become mates. Who’d thunk? They were rivals for a long while. Both central strikers and not very cleverly handled by Van Gaal. Who first pointed at Klaas Jan as his main striker, only to quickly use RVP when he noticed the Man United man was in glorious shape. Klaas Jan is used to being sidelined in Oranje, but already has 70 games under his belt and an average of 1 goal every 99 minutes!! ( Klaas Jan: “That is an annoying statistic, because we’d need 9 minutes of extra time against Turkey for me to score!”)
Kluivert’s tally is Hunter’s next goal and if he really has his swagger back he might even challenge Van Persie. The two had a fall out, publically, on the pitch against Kazachstan. Van Persie didn’t pass the ball to the open Hunter and the Schalke man politely informed RVP about his thoughts.
Hiddink did what apparently no coach before him ever tried: he told the two to grab a coffee together. Huntelaar: “We never did that before. I never drank a coffee with Robin. Mostly, because Robin doesn’t drink coffee, hahaha. But seriously, we were never friends. We never played together, which is different for me than my relationship with Robben or Sneijder. We never played together in the past. We simply never really connected. But Hiddink played us together and told us we could look forward to more of this. And now we have had our one on one, we actually enjoy talking to each other. We sometimes call each other up now. Just to have a bit of a chat. It’s good.”
Van Persie and Huntelaar together, with Robben in a free role. It resulted in 6 goals. The Hunter will have to do it without the two veterans but will have two younger forwards with him. “We have enough talent to make it work. Sure, we’ll miss Arjen and Robin but that’s football. Turkey is a tough opponent, but we’ll win this. I’m 1000% convinced.” The former Ajax man was not keen to name names: “The coach will decide who he plays. I’m cool with any solution. We have players that can play like real wingers, we have players who want to come centrally, either way…. I can deal with any situation.”
Hiddink did practice with both Dost and Huntelaar, but the sharp observer saw that this was a tactic being practiced in case Oranje would be behind. Huntelaar: “This team can play many different systems. And with a player like Dost, we can play long balls. We have players like Sneijder, Clasie, De Vrij and Blind. They are all capable of position a ball on your necktie.”
Stefan de Vrij, the Lazio defender, obtained a bit of a swagger in Rome. Where Strootman was hailed as a rock star when he was signed, De Vrij walked around Rome unnoticed in his first weeks in Italy. Not any more. With Lazio on a firm third spot in the Serie A, the ex Feyenoord man has built up some sensational statistics. “They keep track of everything in Italy. The number of interceptions a defender makes is similar to the number of assists for a winger or the goals of a striker. In that competition, I am actually number 1.” De Vrij is being humble. His statistics are even great on an international level. The pessimistic Lazio supporters believe the quiet defender might be sold to a European top team even, this summer. “I noticed I made some big steps. I played Luca Toni some time back with Feyenoord and he owned me. Last week I played him again and he didn’t touch the ball. I know people in Holland always say Dutch defenders need to become more gritty and tough, but I don’t get a lot of complaints in Italy.” The land of strong defenders… Both Blind and De Vrij will collect their silver platter tomorrow, for their first anniversary in Oranje.
It seems Hiddink will pick De Vrij as one of the first players when making his list on the team sheet. Cillesen will be on there too, along with Sneijder and Huntelaar. There will be some question marks too. Depay is not necessarily Hiddink’s first choice. The PSV man has had some run ins with Guus before and will need to step up a bit, according to insiders. It seems Clasie and Wijnaldum might start alongside Sneijder in midfield. Which could mean that Blind starts on the bench. Because should Depay start as left winger, it makes sense to use Jetro Willems as left back. As Steve mentioned in a comment, Blind would be an interesting option as center back, given that he played there a lot in the youth and had a number of good games for Ajax 1 in that role too.
I wouldn’t be surprised myself if Hiddink uses Afellay as a false winger. This will allow him to use a 4-3-3 style system with possession and a 4-4-2 without possession (Afellay dropping back when we lost the ball).
Hiddink is holding his cards close to his chest so we’ll need to wait and see what happens.
The good thing is, that Luuk de Jong lashed an elbow in Bruma’s face and drew blood.
Or let me rephrase: the good thing is that the lads train at a high intensity level. The training is tough, intense and with aggression. Something we will need to “replace” Arjen Robben.
It is all seriousness and gravitas currently in the Oranje camp but Wes Sneijder couldn’t help but lift the spirits with some comments. The former Real Madrid man is happy with his skipper role. “I don’t look back with negative feelings about me losing the band. We have been through that. It has been discussed and the topic lies at the cemetery for me. No, in general it is good to be the skipper for your country. And against Turkey, in a big match! Last time I scored against them, I didn’t celebrate. But this time I will. Not only that, I will cheer very loud!!” This last comment is a sarcastic nod to Van Gaal’s shout out when a journalist asked what he would do if Sneijder would score…
Hiddink is a fan of relaxed. Take it easy. Do normal, then you do crazy enough. Hiddink, like Huntelaar, is from the Achterhoek (the Back-corner) as the area east of everything is called. The fun factor at the last public training was Joost. A Down Syndrome kid who was present and commentated the training really loud. He knew all the names of all the players, but he kept calling Hiddink “Louis van Gaal”. Hiddink: “Isn’t that just fun? This lad, his spontaneity and his openness? Great.” But all fun aside, Sneijder said: “Tomorrow, the fun needs to stop. Particularly for Turkey. We are 6 points behind the Cechs and 3 behind Iceland. France will be far away in the distance if we let this game slide.” Hiddink looked back at the press conference on his time as Turkish team manager. “We missed the Euros in 2012 narrowly. It took the decider vs Croatia and that is a strong nation. Turkish players are very skilled but sometimes undisciplined. Once the emotions run riot, you sometimes lose them.”