Another match played in the “old rubbish stadium” of De Kuip. The final match of these series, after two wins and one draw. Oranje had to play in Rotterdam, much to LVG’s chagrin, as the Stones were supposed to play in the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam, but due to a positive Covid test, Jagger had to cancel. How Rock & Roll is that? They performed for years in a state of drugged up drunkenness but Covid positive? No rock, no roll.
Van Gaal re-iterated before the game, that yes the pitch is amazing and yes, the fans and the vibe in De Kuip are brilliant, but he has no place to put his 50 odd staff members. WHAT?
Van Gaal fielded a team with players who 1) hadn’t played much yet and 2) players he wanted to test (in partnership and by themselves).
Cillesen was back from a slight knee injury (hit his knee to the post at practice) and De Ligt got the nod to play skipper and centrally in defence. Jordan Teze got a chance on the right hand side with right back Hateboer next to him. Martins Indi was our left centre back.
More importantly, Vincent Janssen got the chance to show himself. An “exam” is how Van Gaal put it.
Sadly, no Schouten next to Frenkie, I would have liked to see that combination.
The away game versus Wales was slow and boring to watch, at times. This time around, the pace was way better and the intent was clearly there. As was Wales’, who didn’t park the bus like the Polish, but who wanted to be adventurous.
This resulted in a fun match.
Vincent Janssen needed some time to settle and his hard feet did indeed show themselves early in the game. But as the game went on, the former Feyenoord prospect did better and better, resulting the assist for the first goal, by Noa Lang. Lang is a player who will always try something. Playing “normal” is not good enough for the cheeky fan favorite. He too needed some time to settle but demonstrated his talent at numerous times. None more so with the goal. A swivel, a chop, a turn and a shot: 1-0. In that move, Jordan Teze needs to be mentioned too. His forward press resulted in turnover of possession and got the ball to Janssen for his assist.
Not much later, Vincent also won two headers in a row, getting the ball into the feet of our #10 Cody Gakpo who scored the second time of asking: 2-0. Earlier versus Wales, it seemed the orange jersey was too heavy for the PSV star but this time around he played a great game. Demanding the ball, finding spaces and basically hardly losing possession. He’d end the game with a 90% pass accuracy rate!
We expected Oranje to push through and we did get chances. Vincent Janssen was close too after stealing the ball after another good pressing moment but the shot sailed wide.
It took a series of Oranje mistakes to gift Wales their goal. Teze, playing in Timber’s place, did exactly what Van Gaal didn’t like about Timber! He dribbled into midfield, without knowing what the plan was. He didn’t see an option, he doodled a bit and lost possession against Dan James. Still, there were 5 players (!) in the rest defence and a goalie. And they all failed to help Teze out: Hateboer could have squeezed, De Ligt should have stepped in, instead of dropping back and Martins Indi made a strange diagonal run which didn’t help. Last but not least, our goalie Cillesen made a little jump up right at the moment the shot came in. As a result, he was not able to be in time with his dive sideways and block the shot: 2-1.
Cillesen and his little “hop” right when the ball is shot on goal… costing him seconds…
Van Gaal would have been pretty peeved with these series of mistakes.
For the second half, Van Gaal made some statements. De Ligt was punished for his lack of leadership with the Wales goal and was moved to the right, in place of Teze. De Vrij came in to take care of the leader role centrally in defence. Hateboer was also subbed, for him came Dumfries, who’d play a key role in Oranje’s final minutes.
Both Hateboer and Teze couldn’t impress. Hateboer is not Oranje material. No idea in possession, wild and reckless in defence, positioning is awkward. He seems out of place and he seems to know it. Teze will be Oranje material in the future, but the Oranje right hand side was so impotent, even the Oranje players in midfield and on the left seemed to hesitate to pass the ball wide to the right.
Oranje got more control, with an outstanding Frenkie de Jong in midfield and a very busy Vincent Janssen up top. We’re waiting for that third goal, really and after a bit more than an hour, Van Gaal brings fresh legs for Noa Lang and Vincent Janssen, who both leave the pitch with an ovation from the fans. Both these lads are popular amongst the fans. Despite his arrogance and obvious skills, Lang also works very hard, something the fans appreciate.
Memphis and Bergwijn, the dynamic duo, came on and Van Gaal wanted to make sure we’d win the game. Memphis in particular had something to set straight with the fans, after his penalty miss versus Poland.
But the next goal was a Welsh one. With Bale and Aaron Ramsey on the pitch, Wales went for a late thrust. The cross came in and Roberts jumped backwards to head the ball on to Bale, while Tyrell Malacia jumped a bit towards the ball. No clash of heads, but a clash of elbow and head, with the Welshman coming off worst. Not a foul, in my book. A mere collision. Stopping the play for the physios to come onto the pitch, yes, but a foul? Not for me, and thus not a penalty either.
But the ref gave it, the VAR supported it and Bale converted the penalty.
Cillesen again demonstrated he’s not the penalty killer we need. His reach is limited and when you wait that long to react, you can only stop a penalty which is through the middle or chipped Panenka style. But we won’t be too harsh on Cillesen.
It seemed Wales did it again: a late equaliser.
And surely, Oranje would never again manage to score a winner in the next seconds.
The players thought differently. They huddled together quickly, and without interference or help from the coach, they came up with a plan. First ball back to Martins Indi, four players chasing forward to the right hand corner (Gakpo, Memphis, Bergwijn and Dumfries). The Inter man is strong in the air and he headed the Martins Indi hail Mary into the box, where Memphis was right on time to slot the ball under goalie Henderson: 3-2.
De Kuip exploded!
After the game, Van Gaal was – again – proud of his team and the spirit they showed. “Never give up!”. Van Gaal explained his subs (see above) and he confirmed that Vincent Janssen did everything he hoped for (“Except score, but he was very close and we know he can score”).
Jasper Cillesen – 6
Did most things right. Took his time when played in by the defenders, resulting in some nervy moments. He doesn’t look very confident, but that can be deceiving of course. Didn’t do too well with the first Wales goal (the hop) and was powerless against Bale’s spot kick.
Hans Hateboer – 4
Doesn’t add much to the game. No comparison to Dumfries, really. Good club footballer but not Oranje material.
Jordan Teze – 6
Teze did well with his forward press this time and was key for the first goal. He did loose the ball clumsily which got Wales on the board, but he wasn’t the only one at fault. Subbed to make way for De Ligt.
Mathijs de Ligt – 6
Another player for whom the band might be a tad heavy. De Ligt wins most of his duels and is ruthless and strong. Good on the ball too, confident and collected. But still making some errors. LVG moved him to his preferred position in the second half.
Bruno Martins Indi – 6,5
Started weak and off the beat. Handling speed needed improving, and he did. The game went on and Martins Indi grew into his role. The elbow attack which gave him a yellow was a high risk. Could have been a red. Played a solid second half and played the long ball to Dumfries, resulting in the winner.
Tyrell Malacia – 6,5
Show much promise. Confident on the ball, Davids-like mentality, had some good defensive tackles and plays along well in possession. His final pass needs work but he will make it hard for Daley Blind, I think.
Frenkie de Jong – 7,5
Strong on the ball, always on the move, always prowling and scouting for options. Some nice interplay with Janssen, Lang, Koopmeiners and Gakpo. I think he can still do better.
Teun Koopmeiners – 6
Didn’t do much wrong but isn’t playing to his usual strengths. Plays at one pace, square passes and dwindles a bit on the ball. Quite anonymous and he should fear for his spot, when the likes of Gravenberch or Van de Beek return.
Cody Gakpo – 8
Played a smashing match. Confident, demanding the ball, finding space and mixing up his passes, from short play to long passes. Great stats, high pass accuracy and creating good opportunities. Gakpo is close to a starting role.
Noa Lang – 7
Hardworking, always “on”, always trying to create. Showing some nifty touches and highly unpredictable. The type of player you want in the squad, to bring on to the pitch when things don’t flow.
Vincent Janssen – 7
Janssen needed some time to find his feet, but was key in the two goals and was close to scoring himself. Worked hard as per usual but could have played a bit higher up the pitch, in the #9 role. He did have some good sliding tackles to regain possession. Popular amongst the fans.
Denzel Dumfries – 7
We all know his weaknesses in the pass and move game, but compensating this with his great energy, work rate and explosive runs on the flank. Always keeping two opponents busy. Was instrumental in the 3-2.
Stefan de Vrij – 7
Came in to organise and lead the defence. Did a good job in replacing De Ligt who failed for his test in the first half. De Vrij is never “remarkable” but does everything business like and solid.
Steven Bergwijn – 6.5
Demonstrated his skills and speed. Always a threat. Clearly enjoying his time with Oranje and based on his recent games, he’ll be in the team.
Memphis Depay – 7
Needed to fix the miss versus Poland and was immediately in the thick of things, trying to make a difference. Typical strikers’ goal in the dying minutes, with a sense of timing and place. Oranje’s talisman.
Van Gaal – 7,5
Solid coaching at half time, taking Hateboer and Teze off and injecting some experience and quality later in the half by subbing Lang and Janssen for Memphis and Bergwijn.
Next up, the LVG’s Oranje Squad and an analysis of Louis van Gaal The Coach…
Watch this space….