After more than 10 years blogging about Oranje and its exploits, you do run out of cute titles for posts.
A crucial week for the Dutch. We were absent in France at the 2016 Euros. It was a disgrace. A debacle. If we’d miss the World Cup as well in Russia next year, we might best just call it a day with football.
But the moral is high in the Oranje camp. The new coaches – Advocaat and Gullit – do instill some confidence of course. Both coaches are confident Holland will qualify. The ever defiant Sneijder will don the band, and Arjen Robben will give everything in this match, as he always does. Be it for 45 minutes, for 60 minutes or for the full match. And the Big Three are reunited now
Bruno Martins Indi Robin van Persie has joined them, after a two year absence.
Lets look at the state of the union in the Oranje camp. And let’s explore the scenarios as well.
The Dutch internationals are back together in Hotel Noordwijk, as per usual. Some new faces, some faces missing. Nathan Ake had to cancel his trip, as he hurt his ankle with Bournemouth. Bruno Martins Indi was called up as a replacement.And Tim Fosu-Mensah was called up when Kenny Tete had to send this thanks as well. Donny van de Beek has his first call up. “I was very pleased to read those positive words of the coach about me. It’s all going quick but the team can count on me.” Van de Beek was about to go in and introduce himself to the internationals. “No doubt, they’ll be on hand to guide me. I have been hearing great things about this group and can’t wait to be part of it.” The young Ajax midfielder will have said “Sir” to eminence grise Robin van Persie. Back where he belongs. But whether we’ll see him play is uncertain, as the Fener forward came to Holland with a shoulder injury. The medical staff will try and work their magic.
Dick Advocaat, Van Persie’s coach at Fener last season: “Robin is one of the best forwards we have. Or ever have had. I know his fitness was an issue for a while but if we use him in the right way, I am sure he can be of tremendous value. It’s clear he is delighted to be back. It will inject something into the group as well.”
Advocaat on Van de Beek: “We can see some great talents coming up and Van de Beek is one of the more consistent ones. He has made his mark at Ajax in a tough role. He can tackle, run, give the final pass and score. He’s a complete midfielder and I think he has a huge future.”
Ryan Babel and Eljero Elia were not called up, despite their good form in Turkey. “I know both players well of course and they’re really close but I decided for these matches not to bring too many new players in. For the forward positions we do have Memphis and Promes and Janssen. I would have to drop one or two of them if I wanted to bring Elia and Babel and Van Persie. I didn’t want to break up the team that’s been working for a while together. And besides, Memphis plays well for Lyon, Promes is probably the best player in Russia and Janssen would be a starter for any Dutch club. His lack of rhythm has never stopped him from playing well for Oranje.”
Asked about Ajax’ and PSV’s recent disappointments in Europe and Oranje’s dramatic fall in the FIFA ranking. “We need to face the facts. We are a small football nation. We have great reputation and history, but we are to be compared with Portugal and Belgium and Denmark. Not with Spain or Germany or France. And even France had a long spell where they lacked success, in the 1970s and 1990s. Denmark had their peak, Belgium as well and is now back with a great generation. We need to accept that we cannot be among the top of the world all the time. Whether it’s our clubs or our national team. It’s not a shame. We should be proud of all we did achieve.”
Asked about Oranje’s potential victory over France. “Why not? Why wouldn’t we be able to beat them? Sweden did. Rosenborg beat Ajax. FC Utrecht almost beat Zenit. You have to be positive, there are always opportunities, and we do not have a quality problem. I do not agree. We have players like Robben, Memphis, Strootman, Wijnaldum, all playing for top clubs. De Vrij and Hoedt play every week against top forwards, our goalie trains with Messi and Iniesta and Daley Blind is at Man United. We still have more than enough quality to trouble France. And I also can’t see Sweden win all their games just like that. We have chances.”
Willem van Hanegem is cynical. The former top player and coach still believes better options are available. “I see Rekik and Ake making mistakes. Childish mistakes, and why not? They’re still starting out. Why not get Erik Pieters? He’s been playing well for years in the EPL and holding his own physically. We’re not playing Belarus or Finland. We’ve got to play Giroud, Lacazete, Griezmann, Matuidi. We need men, not kids. I’d love to see Leroy Fer as well. Key player for Swansea in the EPL. I think Van de Beek is a top talent. But a talent. Fer is an established entity. And with Elia or Babel, we’d have the unexpected. That might become so important, that one opportunity up front. Don’t get me wrong, I want Oranje to win, but I wouldn’t place a euro on our win. The French lost vs Sweden in their last game. They will not underestimate Holland.”
Arjen Robben is ready to rumble. “I don’t participate in all the talk of how good France is. I’m not interested. I want to know how good we are. I want to talk about what we can do. We should believe in ourselves, or simply cancel the game. If we go, we go for a win. Believe in ourselves and rise to the occasion. I’m personally not 100% match fit. But I will give all I have. Whether it’s good enough for 60 minutes or 80 minutes, we’ll see. But I’ll leave everything on the pitch. I was subbed by Ancelotti in our last match, but not because I couldn’t give more. I could have gone on. Match fitness, rhythm, it doesn’t play a role once the ref blows the whistle.”
The Bayern star welcomed his former strike partner Robin van Persie in Noordwijk. “It’s so good to see him again. I’m happy for him. It must have been wonderful to get back to Hotel Noordwijk and be part of it. He’s a born leader, charismatic and full of class. It’s good to have him back.”
Robben was on the bench, when France beat Van Gaal’s Oranje in 2014, which led to the 5-3-2 system Van Gaal used at the Brazil World Cup. “That match clearly demonstrated we weren’t good enough. So Van Gaal made changes. I can see that work against France again, but don’t forget: Louis had weeks to gel the system into the team. That situation is different now.”
Let’s look at the scenarios for Oranje: France and Sweden lead with 13 points, with Holland third with 10 point. The leader will go straight to the WC, the best #2s will go as well. Sweden plays Bulgaria, number 4 with 9 points. After these up coming match ups, there are 3 more games to play. With the first of the lot being played on Sunday.
Holland needs to finish in the top two, but out of the nine groups only 8 number 2s will join the winners. The worst #2 stays at home. Obviously, Holland is best served if they win vs France and Sweden drops points vs Bulgaria.
Rest of the program after Thursday:
Sunday 3 september
18.00 uur: HOLLAND – Bulgaria
18.00 uur: Belarus – Sweden
20.45 uur: France – Luxemburg
Zaterdag 7 oktober
18.00 uur: Sweden – Luxemburg
20.45 uur: Belarus – HOLLAND
20.45 uur: Bulgaria – France
Dinsdag 10 oktober
20.45 uur: HOLLAND – Sweden
20.45 uur: France – Belarus
20.45 uur: Luxemburg – Bulgaria
Defeat vs France would be a drama
Won’t surprise anyone: a loss against France would be bad. We then can only hope that Sweden loses too. We will drop to spot 4 in the group but with only two points behind Bulgaria and three points to Sweden. We play them both at home still. But a loss in Paris while Sweden draws or winst would be disastrous.
|Loss Oranje, win Sweden|
A draw still gives hope
With a surprising draw in Paris, there will be a glimmer of more hope for Oranje. But merely a glimmer. Again, Sweden should lose vs Bulgaria.
A win is very welcome
And then the scenario where Holland takes all points from Paris. And if Sweden would lose vs Bulgaria, France, Sweden and Holland will all have 3 points, with Bulgaria fourth with 12 points. It would bring more excitement and pressure for all, as Bulgaria will have a chance suddenly too. The pressure will be on for all teams, but also on the home games vs Sweden and Bulgaria. The #2 of this group might even end up as the worst of the lot, and therefore miss the World Cup still.
|Win Oranje, win Sweden|