Well, the Janssen-Dost debate is settled. By the flu!! It seems Kevin Strootman and Vince Janssen exchanged some saliva maybe?
The Spurs bench-warmer stays in Holland and Luuk de Jong is ordered to come to Sofia to be the designated pinch hitter (behind Bas Dost and Jeremain Lens, who arrived late from Suriname).
The key question now is: will Stefan de Vrij be fit enough to play?
And it doesn’t look like it. Which means, Oranje will most likely play with a debutant as center back: De Ligt or Hoedt.
De Vrij has had a big knock and an internal bleeding in his leg. Yesterday, he wasn’t able to move his feet. But, as Blind said at the presser: “These things can improve massively overnight, so we’ll see.”
More Danny Blind: “I don’t like to play with two left footed players centrally (Hoedt and Martins Indi) as the build up will be slower than when you have a left and right footer. But it is an option.”
Blind: “There’s always something. First Van Dijk and Bruma and now De Vrij. But luckily Strootman is completely recovered. It seems Janssen has it bad, a throat infection and high fever. Not good at all.”
As for Dost: “Well, it makes my job easier when players fall away, in terms of decisions, but I rather have it hard. I want to have all our positions doubled up. And Dost is a different striker than Janssen, so we’ll need to make some tactical changes.”
Gini Wijnaldum was asked about the knock on his head: “It’s all good. I can head the ball, I am painfree, no dramas. And yes, it’s a bit disappointing dealing with all the injured players but we can’t keep on moaning about it. Other players will need to step up, it’s as simple as that.”
Blind: “I do have a very good feeling about where we’re going with the squad. I’m confident, even with those injuries… It’s simple: we need to get six points in the coming two matches. We know what we need to do and I’m confident we will.”
The last training session did not give a lot away in terms of set up.
It will be a 4-3-3:
Karsdorp – De Ligt – Martins Indi – Blind
Wijnaldum – Strootman – Sneijder
Robben – Dost – Promes
Some Bulgaria stats: Holland lost the so-called farewell match in 2012 (before that dreadful Euros) under Bert van Marwijk at home against the Bulgarians. An omen of what was to come… This actually was the first and only “farewell” match before a bit tournament that the Dutch lost. Jetro Willems made his debut in that game, at 17 years old. And now has 22 to his name and if he goes on as he does, he might well become the Dutch record international.
Humphry Mijnals made his debut against Bulgaria as well by the way and was the first “coloured” Dutch international back in the 19whatevers.
Holland played Bulgaria 10 times and only won 4 matches…
Tonight’s game is played in the Sofia Savili Levski Stadium. Oranje never won a match there. The Dutch only “didn’t win” more matches in one other venue: San Siro in Milan. We played there five times and never won.
Bulgaria is tough to beat anyway. They didn’t lose at home in 14 qualification games! The last country to win in Bulgaria were the Czechs.
Bulgaria’s biggest claim to fame was reaching the semi finals in the WC1994, beating Germany spectacularly in the quarter finals. Current NT coach Hubchev was in that team.
Currently, Daley Blind has as many caps for Oranje as his dad Danny. If he plays tonight, he’ll surpass him and will have 43 international games for Oranje.
Bas Dost is 2017’s top goal scorer. He has 15 already, this year, with one Lionel Messi on second spot with”only” 13 goals.
Our Dutch Lions are up for two matches in the coming week and strangely enough, the first match is the WC qualifier vs Bulgaria and three days later we have a practice friendly, versus Italy… That really confuses me? Why would you program this? Isn’t it logical to do the practice game first and then the official one? Must be me.
And we do live in confusing times… I will not go into Trump vs Hillary, Trump vs Putin, Erdogan vs Wilders, Wenger yes or no or anything like that.
We have our hands full with Dost vs Janssen and who-will-be-our-goalie…
The AD newspaper poll says 90% of the people voting, feel that Dost should start. The former Heerenveen striker can’t stop scoring in Portugal and will well be on his way to bigger things, if he keeps going like this. Janssen scores as many minutes in the first team as Dost scores goals per month.
But super striker (and also super sub) Pierre van Hooijdonk, who knows what it is to be in the “Bas Dost Position” remarkably say: “stick with Vincent”!
Pierre: “You pick a certain style of playing and for this you need certain players. Janssen is different to Dost, and if using Dost means you have to change the whole tactical plan, I’d say: don’t do it. Use Dost for additional power coming off the bench.”
Van Hooijdonk had to endure Kluivert and Van Nistelrooy in pole position. Easier to swallow for sure. “Yes, the difference between them and me was different to the Dost-Janssen situation, I can see that. But Blind sees Dost in training, he follows him in Lisbon… And Dost failed against Luxembourg. That will count too. If he would have left a smashing impression, it would be different now.”
It does seem like Blind is on the same page as the former Feyenoord man. The mantra is: let Janssen do it in Oranje, until he fails in Oranje. As long as he doesn’t, leave him be.
Blind: “I am sorry but I don’t take the public’s opinion into account. If I would do that, because I can limit the criticism on myself, I wouldn’t be worth this job. I would have to be polling and checking twitter trends daily to make a line up. That is not going to work, of course. And as for the striker, I have made up my mind. I don’t see it as a hard decision to make, it is what I call a luxury decision.”
Blind also has hard data to use for fitness purposes. “I can easily see if a player is mentally and physically fit. We measure this and we have data from the clubs. And Janssen is top fit. He trains daily and hasn’t had major injuries, so that is not a drama. He lacks match rhythm, that is all. But we all know that Janssen and Wijnaldum probably have the most demanding physical programs of all Oranje players. They’re top fit!”
Van Hooijdonk: “The key thing is, will all this have an effect on Janssen’s style of playing. If he plays, I’ll watch his behaviour closely. If he gets through for instance, and has a chance but Karsdorp is totally free before goal, what will Janssen do? He’ll need to pass it to Karsdorp, but sometimes strikers under pressure will go for their personal glory. No matter how big the desire for some success, he’ll need to think of the team.”
Matthijs De Ligt on the left
By the way, Dost will only join Oranje today, as he was at the funeral of his grandfather this week. Same as Jeremain Lens who is in Suriname as his dad actually passed away. He will join Oranje Thursday as well.
Today, Stefan de Vrij and Gini Wijnaldum left the practice early with some issues. De Vrij with a sore ankle, and Wijnaldum got a boot against his head. Robben trained in full despite some smaller issues. Kevin Strootman spent his days in bed with the flu.
Danny Blind: “Everyone is fit, it seems, at least for the game starts. The usual little knocks and things. De Vrij’s knee is dry, as the medical staff calls it. He’ll play and I have options next to him of course. Martins Indi is doing well at Stoke, Hoedt plays next to him at Lazio, Viergever can play in that role, Daley as well. And Promes can play on the wing, on the #10 but also as striker. He plays at a very high level and luckily Memphis is playing really well as well. We’ve got choices again.”
Blind won’t say much about the goalie choice. “We have good goalies and I’ve made up my mind, but you’ll need to wait for that one.”
Stefan de Vrij is back!
Martins Indi left the Oranje squad after his red card vs Iceland. Is the relationship Blind – Martins Indi repaired? Blind: “Well it was never broken. We have discussed this immediately after Iceland. And when he returned to Oranje we have had a good conversation as well. He’s playing now, he’s got rhythm, he’s making the move from Porto to Stoke. All good. And it’s good to have choices. We’re missing Van Aanholt, Van Dijk, Bruma, Kongolo… But we don’t have to panic as we have options.”
Blind is mostly impressed with Wijnaldum’s development. “Gini is becoming a very important player for Oranje and I don’t want to mis-use him like I had to do vs Belgium, when he played right wing back almost. I need to use him like Liverpool does, in that key role in midfield. He’s been excellent.”
Matthijs de Ligt will make his debut in the Oranje squad. A lot of people criticised Blind for that selection. “I know him, I have spoken with him. I’ve spoken with Peter Bosz and Marc Overmars. He’s very mature and learns really fast. I think he will be a full fledged Oranje player and probably a top class defender. But he won’t start. He needs to listen, learn and digest. People felt I should have gone with Van der Heijden (Feyenoord) but I have enough lefties in defense, I really need a right footed player behind De Vrij and that is De Ligt.”
Wesley Hoedt battling with Janssen
It would make sense for Wesley Hoedt to get his debut in Oranje. He plays next to De Vrij at Lazio and faces top teams and strikers every week. “I think I earned my spot in Oranje, based on the 52 matches I played in the Serie A. I have definitely become a better defender compared to my time in the Eredivisie. And here with Oranje, I feel good too, even though it’s my first time. But I do know some of the lads of course, so that helps.”
Next week, Oranje faces Italy, with a number of players Hoedt faces weekly. “Yes, I played against Belotti last week. I think people in Holland look down on the level in Serie A, but the teams in the top half are really good. And Juventus is a class apart even. The way they are organised. A player like Chiellini for instance. I’m sure he would never make it through the Academy at Ajax or Feyenoord. They’d send him away. But in Italy, they see defending as a pure quality. I like that.”
The friendly vs Italy is 5 days before the Classic, which will most likely decide the title. Blind: “I have not made any agreements with the clubs about the players and how I use them in the Italy game, no. They still have 5 days to recuperate. This is professional football.”
Debutant Wesley Hoedt
About the strikers: “I have three good options. Lens can play centrally as well. Dost is hot which is great. I think we have a luxury issue, which is nice for me. A couple of good strikers, I can’t complain about that!”
Arjen Robben came later to the Oranje camp with a swollen foot. “I thought OH FUCK there we go again, in bed after the Gladbach match. But it all came down nicely and I have no problem. Saturday, I’ll be 100%. I want to show everyone I’m still here but I won’t do anything silly or over the top to prove myself. But I feel shit that I have to cancel many matches due to injuries. Last time vs Luxembourg I was back and again had to leave the pitch injured. I am so done with that! I really want to play every second for Oranje but I’m 33 years old. I do have to monitor my fitness but as long as it feels like I can, I will….”
Yesterday, Oranje had a so-called open training day at Quick Boys in Noordwijk, but a closed off training session in De Arena today. On Friday, they fly to Sofia with a practice session and press conference in the late afternoon.
On Saturday, the match. Sunday, flight back with late practice at Ajax’ youth centre (closed off again) and on Monday a partly open session in the AZ Stadium in Alkmaar, with another presser. Tuesday evening we take on the Italians in a friendly, in the Amsterdam Arena.
Memphis is happy again