A young and not so experienced Oranje – missing Sneijder, Vlaar, Van Persie, Huntelaar, Robben and Daley Blind – but with Kevin Strootman back as captain played their first friendly in pre-Euros warm up games vs the Republic of Ireland. With Ireland going to the Euros and Holland simply as sparring partner. In case you forgot :-).
Danny Blind playing a simple 4-3-3, with Strootman as holding mid, Bazoer on the right and Wijnaldum on the left of midfield.
Oranje started ok. Good passing, good possession and composure on the ball. Ireland allowed Holland the ball and was playing their counter game, with the quick Shane Long up front, probably how they envision they should play at the Euros.
“There is the goal we need to play towards!!”
But, it has to be said, with all the possession, Holland didn’t create a lot. Or anything, really. There was lots of confidence on the ball and in particular Janssen had some good movement without the ball but the problem for Holland was the lack of pace in passing. Too many touches, and not enough depth on the wings. Jetro Willems had some good crosses from the left and was our most threatening player in the first half, with Promes dropping deep and Veltman not overlapping enough on the right. But the passes didn’t come quick enough. Janssen was available a lot, albeit market but Strootman and Bazoer had trouble finding Wijnaldum and the AZ striker while Depay was not offered a lot of space to work his magic.
In the last 15 minutes of the first half, Ireland came better into the game and they got their goal from a dangerous set piece. Van Dijk had lost O Shea and Long responded quickest after a half hearted clearance of Janssen and Cillesen, 1-0.
“Welcome back to the game, Kevin…”
In the final stages of the first half, Ireland could have had a second one from a setplay and the Irish started their second half strong, as Oranje started to look lethargic. Some good crosses from Memphis, and good battling in midfield by Strootman but no danger from the lions. Around the 65th minute Holland started to up the pace and some crisp passing resulted in some good pressure but no real chances. Actually, not a single shot on goal. Blind brough Berghuis for Memphis who added some direct play to the team, using his left foot to open up the game but this short spell of pressure ended after 15 minutes. Dost and later Luuk de Jong would come on (for Janssen and the invisible Wijnaldum) while the tired Strootman was subbed for Marco van Ginkel. But despite the fresh legs, Oranje didn’t create much. The best opportunity was a deep cross from Willems on Janssen at the far post who wanted to head it across the goal to the incoming Oranje players but the ball got blocked.
Bruma was skipper when Strootman was subbed
It seemed to end up a bloodless loss but with Luuk de Jong and Dost in a 4-4-2, with lots of aerial threat, the key for Oranje was to get the ball wide and cross the ball in. Berghuis cross from the right ended up with Promes in the 84th minute who allowed Willems to use his golden left foot. As Jetro has done so many times for PSV and Luuk de Jong, a measured curve ball into the box found the unmarked Luuk de Jong who didn’t give the Irish goalie a chance. One chance, one goal.
Enough of positives in this game for Blind, with Willems back to his old self. Although he’s only 21 years old of course. He played disciplined, never got in trouble and had a number of excellent balls in. Virgil van Dijk was a rock mostly, and Veltman found a new career as right back, although I rate Janmaat higher in an attacking sense and Tete in a defensive sense. Strootman, although rusty, showed his typical grit. Vincent Janssen, although hardly given any service, had great movement and desire. The jury is still not out on Memphis, Berghuis, Promes and Bazoer for me. Great talents but not decisive yet in their actions .I felt Bruma was not playing his best football, seemed to be outfoxed too easily in setpieces and looked too complacent at times. Luuk de Jong and Dost did what they had to do, as did Cillesen. Nothing spectacular from these players and Cillesen maybe should have done better on that O’Shea header that led to the goal.
Ireland impressed me. Good work rate, smart tactics, grit and desire. Players like Long, Arter, Whelan and Coleman are above average and if Leicester can upset the EPL maybe Ireland can surprise the bigger teams with their smart counter football. Who knows…
As for Oranje’s future, we need Memphis, Berghuis and Janssen to get some games under their belt on a higher level. I would also like to see Van Ginkel back in the EPL to further hone his craft. Give them time, give Strootman some time and let us hope Vlaar, Daley Blind, Janmaat, Robben and Sneijder will come back to the team in fighting fit form soon. With those players (and potentially De Vrij, Propper, Van Persie) we will be able to gel a good side together for the World Cup 2018 campaign….
Skipper Strootman was happy and sad…. “Happy to have played. I felt good and my body didn’t experience a set back. But, I’n not happy because we didn’t play our best game. We worked hard in Portugal for certain patterns but we couldn’t get our game going. It was too slow and as a result the spaces were tight and we couldn’t reach each other. This needs to improve. At least we manage to score.”
Danny Blind was not satisfied. This was a disappointing game. We have so much football in our squad but we didn’t manage to get it going. I do wonder what the cause is. We worked well in training but we played under par. Too much loss of possession, even easy passes at times went astray. You need to pass crisp if you want to put pressure on. We will analyse and discuss this. We had players dribbling too long, we didn’t have enough surprises on the wings, it was too predictable..” Blind subbed Memphis after an hour. Again, the big promise was not delivered. “Well, he had a tough season. And you can tell from his game. He’s rusty, he doesn’t have the confidence… when you get in this situation, you need to play simple. I feel that Memphis is trying too hard. Wants to do special things when it’s not needed. But, he has so much qualities, I’m sure if will turn around for him. He is very talented and once his confidence returns and things start to work for him again, you’ll see him return to form.”
Asked if Blind was going to make big changes. “Well not big changes. We’ll play the football we want to play but we will change some personnel here and there, but that’s what this is for. I’ll definitely try some fresh legs.”