Hi all, my deepest apologies for leaving you by yourself for so long… It’s just life, I guess. Work was crazy and on top of that I relocated from the most Westerly point in Australia to the most Easterly point. As if you go from West Ireland to East Ukraine. It always takes its toll.
But with Oranje back, so am I. I hope you didn’t miss me.
Lets dive in!
In the past months we have seen some incredible progress in our players, and our teams. Really good to see how Van Bommel is injecting PSV with some venom, and with a lot of young exciting players! Also just amazing to see how Ajax is doing in Europe and how the international media and football world is paying attention.
At the same time, our lads abroad are establishing themselves well, with an exception here or there (Memphis in Lyon). But Cillessen, De Vrij, Virgil, Wijnaldum, Ake, Klaassen, Promes, our lads in Italy, most players are doing really well!
And the optimism around this Oranje is well deserved. We have been winning again and we see players with smiles on their faces. That is what we want.
The 4-0 win over Belarus was exactly what the doctor ordered. And it allowed Koeman to put some sharpness into the team by criticising them afterwards. Typically something he borrowed from JC, Van Hanegem and Van Gaal. When the team disappointed and the fans are down, you build them up. When the team cruised past an opponent, scores goals and excels in backheels and trickery, you talk them back down to Earth.
Because…. Germany is waiting!
In this qualification series, Germany and Holland are the two main contenders. So, winning once again Germany and simply winning all your other matches will get you safely to the first Pot of the Euro draw.
Koeman decided not to tinker. He thought the De Roon / De Jong partnership worked well and decided to start Propper off the bench. He also believes in the triangle of Babel, Memphis and Gini with Bergwijn as the free wanderer in the Promes role.
Oranje started on the front foot and Man of the Match Memphis scored within the first minute after a sloppy backpass. The Lyon striker still had a lot to do and took on the goalie, to finish off with a curvy snooker shot, inside post: 1-0.
The 2-0 was set up by Wijnaldum. He took the ball under pressure, found a free runner on the right and it was Dumfries who had the pre-assist, crossing the ball to Memphis, who backheeled it into the path of Wijnaldum again: 2-0.
With more than 30 mins to go in first half, Koeman wanted his team to be more business like and kill the game off. “I wasn’t happy in the break. I saw a confident and cocky Oranje, but it wasn’t time for gallery play. With 2-0, they can always get back into it, with a lucky deflection or something and then it is game on. You need to kill the game off: 3-0 before the break. Then 4-0 after the break and then you can play your backheels. I don’t think this stadium (Feyenoord stadium) ever saw this many tricks in one match!”
Memphis is one of the leaders of this new Oranje. Koeman made that clear when he started and he will not share in the doubts, expressed by Lyon’s coach. “Memphis is remarkable. He is top class and I don’t doubt him at all.” Koeman has the frame of the team in place, and he will be very happy indeed. Jasper Cillessen is in top form, even if he is #2 at Barca. De Ligt and Van Dijk are world class, Frenkie is key and with Memphis we have a forward leading the line with all his specific qualities. He can shoot from distance, he can dribble, he can pass and move, he can find the killer pass… He is the total package.
Around that axis, Koeman has wonderful options. Bergwijn or Berghuis. Different type of wingers. Then there is Promes. Babel. The two youngster Dilrosun and Danjuma and more coming through swiftly. In midfield, Propper, Klaassen, Vilhena, Van de Beek, Rosario and more in the ascendency. And the same can be said for our backline. Nathan Ake and Stefan de Vrij are our benchwarmers. That tells the story.
For the Germany game, Koeman had to call up Hans Hateboer of Atalanta. Dumfries is not 100% and Tete had to leave the pitch vs Belarus (after coming on as a sub) with a hamstring issue. I can see why Koeman wanted Hateboer over Janmaat, to take on Sane. The mercurial left winger of City is the biggest danger (with Reus) and Janmaat probably lacks the speed and defensive nous to deal with Sane. But with Dumfries not 100%, I think I would have called Janmaat anyway.
So far so good! We’ll probably see almost the same 11 play against Germany, as Koeman will want to work towards a team with some solidity. De Roon was taken off vs Belarus as he was yellow carded but I do expect him to be in the team again, as an extra safeguard in midfield, so Frenkie can play with some more freedom.