The key thing for the Oranje team after the dressing down vs France is to quickly get the egg and mud of the faces and straighten their backs! It’s a tough one. Egos were hurt, reputations damaged. We’re the laughing stock in Europe after the biggest Orange defeat since 1969!!
And the players will have felt it. The media (French, Dutch, English) were tough on our performance and with all reasons and right to do so. But, it is not a knock-out competition. We’re still in it. So analysis should wait. Blame game should wait. Dick needs to pull the lads together and get them uplifted. Sneijder said after the game, that due to the Bulgaria result vs Sweden, the mood lifted in the dressing room. A little angel helped us to stay alive.
And may I bring into memory the WC1974? No, not Cruyff’s goals. Not Van Hanegem’s playmaker’s role, Neeskens runs or Krol’s crosses. Yes, we dazzeled the world but do you remember the qualification games before the tournament? We were shite. We should not have gone! Belgium was the nation deserving to go, as Oranje scored the decider vs East Germany in clear offside position. Otherwise, we were out!
And even then, with JC, with De Kromme, the fans and media back in 1973 wondered why on Earth Oranje was even traveling to West Germany?
Same in 2014 with Van Gaal’s squad. The media was ruthless. “We were going to be humiliated and on a plane back after the three group matches!” And it took penalties vs Argentina to keep us from playing another finals.
Which we would have won by the way. So you know.
So yes, it was dramatic, but surely we can beat Bulgaria and Sweden at home? The good thing is, both nations have something to play for and both will have to come to take something from the game. Belarus away might be the toughest game. Winter, bad pitch, tough opponent.
The issues we have – as analysed by all of you after the France game – are apparent. And are multi-faceted. It’s many things and we can work on some of them.
There are also aspects we simply can’t work on. When Rene van der Gijp was asked what he hoped for, he answered: “I hope a guy and girl are making love right now somewhere in Veenendaal or Tiel or Zaandam and are making a Lionel Messi for us!”
The criticism on the midfield players was justified. But the reason why Strootman and Wijnaldum are so good at club level and not at NT level has nothing to do with mentality or motivation or quality. It’s about a club coach, having a firm tactical plan and gelling the team in such a way that every player’s strength is used and every weakness is balanced out.
I personally believe Dick Advocaat got the tactics wrong. I did say it before the game, I’d never go in with 4-3-3.
Janssen had no role to play in this match and he doesn’t even deserve any criticism for it. He didn’t get one playable ball.
He had no business vs France and we should have started with 2 or even 1 forward. I would always have played four midfielders vs the agile and powerful French.
But, it’s a competition and we’re still in it. Bulgaria will probably play defensively against us, so now we do need the attacking prowess of Sneijder or Robben as creator and the presence of Janssen in the box, maybe even with Dost coming in as well at some stage.
It seems Vilhena will take Strootman’s role and I can imagine Veltman or Tete to come on for Fosu-Mensah. The Man United loanie did ever so well vs France but had a couple of cramp attacks during the game. Veltman is better in possession and overall, Tete the better all-round player.
Wesley Hoedt didn’t have a top game either so I could even imagine more changes. An attack minded coach could use Daley Blind as centre back alongside De Vrij, but Dick Advocaat is a lot of things….not an attack minded coach.
I believe our lads will show the fans in the Johan Cruyff Arena that they are 100% focused and motivated and I can see us beat Bulgaria 3-0, with Janssen on the score-sheet alongside Robben and Sneijder.
Here is a To Do list of considerations for Dick Advocaat:
Try not to use players without match rhythm
Wesley Hoedt played some promising football for us against Morocco and Ivory Coast. Good passing, speed in his handling, good vision. But against France, it was clear that he simply lacks rhythm. Lacking confidence and not as light on his feet as per usual. Blind as centre back is an option but I don’t see Dick call up Erik Pieters. Martins Indi doesn’t play that often either and De Ligt, who will have rhythm, is not playing his best football at the moment. Vilhena for Strootman is a no-brainer.
Don’t let Robben get isolated on the right wing
Against France, Robben was supposed to be the go-to man, but the Bayern star got double marking and was not easily found. He was relegated to making 30 yards defensive runs and was even seen heading balls away in his own box! Pep Guardiola saw Robben as a potential playmaker and used him centrally behind the strikers. Wesley lacks rhythm, so why not use Promes and Memphis upfront with Robben as playmaker.
If we can’t break them down with football, lets use the airforce!
Pierre van Hooijdonk always says it. If you can’t break them down, pepper them with crosses. Why not? Two strikers vs Bulgaria. It seems Ajax will go forward with Dolberg and Huntelaar. Spicey detail: during the last practice session pre-France, it appeared the A team (the starters) were also beaten by the B-team who emulated France…