We had all the reasons to play well and to get a good victory.
Qualifying for Brazil is an important one, obviously. But there is also that West German recond we so dearly wanted.
There is prestige. The need for the Dutch to present themselves again on the international front after the abyssmal Euros.
And there is the FIFA ranking issue, which will enable the top 7 nations to become group head in the World Cup this coming Summer.
And there were no real reasons for Oranje to perform badly. We have the Best Coach Ever ™, we still have a core of Great Players ™ (like Robben, RVP, Sneijder, Strootman, Vorm) and some exciting young talents ( Willems, Janmaat, Maher, BMI)…
The pitch in Estonia was considered very good and LVG even allowed Robben to pay from the right.
When the game was only 2 minutes old, Robben seemingly demonstrated his conviction by scoring a zinger. In typical Robben style. A dribble inside, a curler in the far corner.
In the 20 minutes after that, Oranje was boss and could have / should have scored two more. Van Persie, Janmaat, Robben…. It was quite easy for Holland to kill off the game.
But as most of you have seen it I won’t do a minute by minute rundown.
Basically, weak defending (and mediocre goal keeping) allowed Estonia back into the game.
And a great passage of play by Estonia (and did we say “weak defending” already?) made it 2-1.
By then, Oranje’s quality had left the game. The swift pass and move, the positioning game, the wing play, everything that makes Oranje Oranje was non existent. Sneijder wasn’t able to carry the team, the defence seemed scared to build up and play a risky pass while Robben, Lens and Van Persie failed to work together to create anything solid.
Until the last minutes of the match, when lionheart Kuyt passed the ball to RVP, who did well to wiggle away from his opponent, saw he would lose the duel but used the hand he felt on his shoulder to go for a spot kick. The ref saw it and gave it. It was a soft one, for sure, as RVP had his hand across the chest of the defender, but at that time….RVP had possession and the defender did have an arm on Robin’s shoulder…. A good reason for a ref to give a penalty.
RVP didn’t make a mistake and is creeping up to Pat Kluivert’s record as goal scorer.
The big question LVG needs to answer is: what went wrong…
Do we lack quality? I don’t think so. But we did lack confidence. Why? How? What can we do to instil that back into the team.
Were the tactics bad? Robben on the right? Lens on the left? And is there maybe a chance that Sneijder and RVP don’t work too well together ? Sneijder maybe too static?
Or did the players simply not execute the tactics well enough?
Normally, I would not be concerned about our goalies. Vorm didn’t look good with that first one, and Zoet actually conceded a similar goal from Boateng in the AC Milan game. But Vorm remains a top shot stopper. And once Krul and Stekelenburg return, we truly have goalies who are surely good enough for Oranje.
Our full backs are good enough too, I’d say. On the right, Janmaat, Van Rhijn and Van der Wiel should be able to sort it out.
On the left, I believe Pieters will make a return, although I do like Blind and Willems too. Sure, Blind is slow and Willems a bit inexperienced, but I am all for using young talents if there are no better options.
The central defenders do concern me. De Vrij and BMI are both potential top defenders, but the emphasis here is on “potential”. We need them to be top in 10 9 months. Is that possible?
De Vrij is too sweet, not a killer. BMI tends to be a bit cocky and too confident at times.
But are Bruma and Rekik better? Very hard to say.
Vlaar is a killer, for sure, but does he have the speed needed and the build up skills?
Mathijsen and Heitinga should be phased out. I can imagine a coach wanting to use them still but the latter hardly plays and the former is not free of mistakes himself.
Pieters could be an option, by the way but other than that LVG might chuck a Michels ’74 trick and place one of his midfielders in the central defence role. Strootman or Fer maybe? Both tall, strong and Rijkaard like players….
Our midfield is fine, as long as Clasie regains form and Van Ginkel gets some runs on the board. With Maher/Clasie/Strootman/De Guzman/De Jong/Van Ginkel/Wijnaldum/Vaart/Sneijder/Siem de Jong we should have more than enough options.
The central striker position is also not a big deal: RVP, Hunter, Ricky, Dost, Luuk de Jong/Siem de Jong… Options galore.
In terms of wingers, though, we’re back in doubts… Robben is no problemo (as long as he stays fit) but there is that long list of potentials… Elia, De Jong, Boerrighter, Depay, Boetius, Lens, Narsingh…. And Kuyt, despite all he has done for us, I don’t really rate anymore.
Never saw him as a winger, really. He is a great asset, and might have a role to play, as he is a smart and hard working, disciplined player. But in reality, looking at LVG’s tactical plan, Dirkie doesn’t qualify as a winger.
I am not sure whether – as Louis says – the team needs a boost of confidence, or whether the team needs to lose its arrogance.