Oranje prepping for finals

Imagine you’re Frank de Boer. New job. Exciting. Oranje has some amazing talents. And you need the job (to restore your reputation).

But then you end up having 1 day to prep your first game. Which is a friendly, 3 days before a “real” match. You lose. You then play the NL game vs Bosnia Herzegovina, and you draw (“We got 5 guild edged opportunities. At this level, you need to score one of them!”).

And suddenly, you’re facing an away match vs Italy, which feels like a finals. Should Oranje lose and not score a goal, we will have set a new record (most matches played in a row without a win or a goal). Not the sort of history Frank was looking to make.

It’s very harsh to blame Frank of all of this. He did admit that in hindsight he should have played Berghuis vs Bosnia. But he was also right not to play the starting eleven vs Mexico and also right to say that, yes, we did play agricultural vs Bosnia but we did create some chances: De Vrij misheading, Luuk de Jong’s header stopped, Frenkie fluffing his lines and Babel…well… that ball ended up in the parking garage of the Bosnian stadium…

People will come out and say “Frank is the king of the square and backpass” but stats don’t lie. The relative number of backpasses was higher under Koeman than under Frank de Boer (in his first two matches, that is). So that criticism is unfounded.

Frank was very feisty and confident during the last press conference, before the Italy game. Italy away, a match we never won since 2008, by the way.

When we go back to the lost Nations League finals vs Portugal, Ronald Koeman said something under his breath that was forgotten in the euphoria of reborn Oranje. He said: “We won’t win trophies if we can’t find top class players upfront…. We are not as strong there as we are elsewhere.”

And he was right: Van Dijk. De Vrij, De Ligt, Blind can all be considered European top players. In midfield, with Frenkie and Donny and Wijnaldum we can say the same. Upfront, the club names behind the attackers’ names are European subtop: Olympique Lyonnaise, Seville, Feyenoord, PSV, Wolfsburg maybe. With Bergwijn moving to Spurs, we do have a bigger club name behind an attacker, but Bergwijn was too injured to join. And at Spurs, Bergwijn is a not a starter.

Malen, Stengs, Boadu, Ihattaren, Gakpo…promising players but surely not top yet.

Holland was top behind the ball. Versus top nations. France, Germany, England, we took them all on. But typically, when we play Bosnia or Poland, we tend to get in trouble. Our build up is too slow, too predictable and we lack the pure class to outperform rugged defenders. Memphis keeps on trying, but just like in the time spent at Man United, he is not very successful in limited spaces. Malen, Promes, Bergwijn, they all need space to run into. And against Bosnia, or Iceland or Romania or Greece, that space is not there.

So it’s telling that our most dangerous attacker – without Memphis in the team – is a Feyenoord player. Who has been impressing for months on end, but even for him, there was no big club with a piggybank of euros, to sign him. Telling signs.

Against Italy, Oranje needs to deal with the marauding left wing back and the roaming left winger. In the home match, Oranje never got grip on these two and all the danger came from them. You can sympathise with Hateboer, as he was left to his own devices, by Veltman, Wijnaldum and De Roon. The former Groningen marathon man hardly ever plays right back at Atalanta in a 4 man’s defence and is actually a mediocre defender.

Frank de Boer: “It will be different against Italy this time. You can expect a different Oranje. At the same time, it’s good for everyone to realise that the Dutch National Team won’t play nations off the pitch that easily. The smaller nations are getting better and better. We had difficulties against Bosnia and so did Italy! And I know there is pressure, but at the same time, we’re #2 with one point behind Italy. So we have it all in hand.”

During the press conference, De Boer made a feisty impression. “I still stand by my decision to play that B-side vs Mexico. I could have been selfish and think about my reputation and play the best eleven, but it would have been foolish. They were not all 100% fit and they have a massive number of games to play still. It’s also my responsibility to protect them. And the Bosnia game… well yes, in hindsight, Berghuis could have been a better option but you never know how it would have gone with him as a starter. And if Babel or Frenkie scored in that last stage, we would be talking quite differently here. Under Koeman, they also scored late goals and got that result late, but that didn’t happen this time. Luck? Well, you make your luck. And we didn’t this time.”

When asked if Berghuis will start vs Italy: “You’ll find out tomorrow.”

And De Boer continued: “Italy wants to have the ball. Bosnia didn’t. So it will be a different game. I think it will be a good game too, nice and open. The first match in Amsterdam, we were lost a bit. We couldn’t get a grip on the game and we were constantly late. We need to change that around. In my view, our decision making was not great in that game. For the game tonight, I decided to train two scenarios and work on two tactical plans. And I have included the players in that discussion. I want to play Plan A. But only if the players support it. If they don’t feel confident, fine. We can play Plan B. We worked on both and we can switch easily. But whatever it will be: you will see a strong and positive Oranje. We trained well and I am pretty buoyant.

And, my friends, so am I. Just because I want them to win. I say 1-3 for Holland.

My line up: Cillesen on goal. Dumfries, De Vrij, Van Dijk, Blind in the back. Wijnaldum and Frenkie in the engine room. Donny van de Beek on #10. Malen, Memphis and Berghuis up front.

Own goal De Vrij. And up front, Memphis, Donny van de Beek and Berghuis on the scoreboard for the orange. Hup Holland Hup.

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    1. No no no. The talents are wasting themselves in their pursuit for money and fame. If they have a good head on their shoulders (along with their manager/parents) they shouldn’t be going to mammoth clubs. They’re going for instant gratification which a double sword. I would understand a poor Brazilian or African desperately needing a salary but a dutch shouldn’t be in this position.

  1. Well, they are going with a 3-5-2 (or 5-3-2, depending on how you want to see it)

    Hateboer/DeVri/Van Dijk/Ake/Blind

    Van de Beek/De Jong/Wijnaldum

    Memphis/Luuk De Jong

  2. We actually played better than I expected in the first half. There are lot of attacks on the left wing with Depay and Blind. The back 3 pressed very high on the pitch to control the game. There are some opportunity for De Jong but he did not have a good header. The game is wide open at this moment.

  3. OK, so 3-5-2 or 5-3-2, needs must formation worked. A bit risky with the high line at times (especially first half). But overall we played OK. Still, I hope we revert to 4-3-3 with a more attack minded formation for most games. Call me the romantic, but football is supposed to be a form of entertainment!

    Hateboer… liability. In Atlanta colours, he’s great. For Oranje, not so good.

    L de Jong. So many little moments in this game where a better touch, finish, link up, movement could have won us this game.

    van de Beek… much better. He certainly for me needs to be on of the 3 midfielders along with Frenkie.

    Strootman, Babel, Promes… I genuinely do not see what they contribute, both on the pitch and as options of the bench. Having Strootman on the bench is a handicap.

    Frank de Boer… why not take off L de Jong??? Where was the attacking change?? Why wait till 90 mins.

    Either Frank was blinded by his faith in his squad selection, lost track of time, or never had a plan B. Malen, Berghuis could have offered a different challenge to the Italy back line if they were given a decent amount of minutes.

    Game petered out in the last 10-15 mins as both teams ran out of ideas, and both managers failed to influence the game with attacking subs.

    When I finally saw Babel come on for Depay in the 90th min, I thought to myself… I’ll take the draw.

    Probably deserved to win this one. But between not possessing a decent no.9, poor options of the bench, and a manager with no plan B… not a bad result!!

  4. That was better. At least it seemed like they showed up. That’s not always the case and it’s frustrating to watch when they never get out of first gear.

    For it to make any sense to have Luuk de Jong on the field, it seems to me he needs to actually stay up front on the shoulder of the last man. I’m also thinking that trying another player in this role (probably Zirkzee) could pay off.

    We also need to be a bit more selfish in the final third. Way too many times was there one pass too many instead of someone just putting the ball on frame.

    If we had played with this intensity against Bosnia, we’d be at the top of the group.

  5. De Boer did the right thing by switching to 3-5-2. As I have said many times, that is the only formation that we need to play due to our strength being at the back as we lack quality up front.

    How the hell Luuk De Jong plays for 180 minutes in both games against Bosnia and Italy? We needed more movement up top and Luuk simply lacked that. I do think that Malen next to Depay at some point of the game against Italy would have won us the game! Lastly, such a weak move by De Boer to put Babel in the 91 minute which to me showed that he was desperate to hold on even though we needed the win.

  6. I only saw short fragments of the game and was happy with performance. The positives are we finally scored and when we had fallen behind. Last few mins even though they were tired the players fought hard. Just when I was thinking that FDB was having a good game he inserts Babel. WTF? Why? Seemed like a diletant moe.

  7. @jan any way we can upgrade this blog to something modern and new? Willing to contribute some funds to an upgrade ! It’s time !

    Regarding the game, so disappointed in FdB. I’m happy he shifted to 5-3-2 but seriously no changes until 77’ !! And then a defender for defender. How can we ever evolve and get the young guys involved. We need to wake up ! No urgency. Add attackers in the second half. Take some risks .. let the fans enjoy. So silly !

    And a second error for hateboer! What is up with him ? Almost led to a goal .. He does well for Atalanta. Weird.

    1. just have to keep building on, keep rotating until there is more stability and flawlessness.

      So Poland has 7 pts, Italy 6pts and NT 5pts. Poland will face both Italy and NT in the next fixtures.what are the odds here.

  8. surprisingly, this change in the model we played today made the team perform much much more efficient (still a lot to work on though)!!!
    I was thinking it was mentioned here in one of the comments maybe two days ago that we won so many games in nations league last season because Germany was out of form and France had a full belly (quoting Jan 🙂 ), but remember guys that ajax in 18/19 destroyed the top European teams in Europe playing the most beautiful football we ever seen and who was the midfield in that Ajax team? it was frenkie-Donny and schone, ok so we got both frenkie and donny we need to replace schone and it is definitely not wijnaldum, it is either gravenberch (what a goal he scored for under 21 against cyprus) or koopmieners maybe but what a dream midfield that would be with donny-frnekie-gravenberch!! also the ajax defense that season was de ligt-daley and both mazraoui and tagliafico!! so two of that ajax defense are also in oranje you are adding to them van dijk and de vrij, thats an unpgrade!!!

    looking how bad both hateboer and dumfries are makes so mad to see mazraoui picking morocco over oranje!!! he wouldve been perfect in oranje!!!

    last part of the team is attack and thats where the only hope for me is that sam lammers really end up showing his quality, he scored a stunning goal for atalanta last week!!1 if he continues to show some of those skills and we end up playing 3-5-2 from now on then the couple lammers-depay would be a nice thing to have!!!

    1. Mazeroui and tagliafico are FLYING WING/FULL BACKS AT 433…hateboer sh@##ts in pants…on right…while Daley Blind is afraid of his lack of speed…
      Jetro williams can pull a tagliafico,may be better..
      karsdorp can pull a mazzarui… but rest are hopeless…

  9. I don’t mind a back 5, though I’m not sure about Blind at LWB. The team will obviously need to train this a bit more, as the same type of ball, a diagonal from right to left, get causing problems for the defense. Typically a back 5 shifts to a back 4 depending on where the ball is, ie if the ball is on the left wing, blind would become a left-winger and Ake would become left-back. The shifting of formation on and off the ball is something Holland will need to work on.

    I liked Luuk up front even if he didn’t score, just because it gives you an option at all times, just to loft the ball into the box, where if we play with Depay up there, we don’t have the option. We need a big 9.

    Blind had a good game, Hateboer got nothing done (but I’m still a fan of his, especially in a 5). Wijnaldum was unimpressive, but Donny and Frenkie were fine and Depay is always a shining star.

    If we are to go forward with a 5-3-2, I think we have the following:
    -6 Must-haves (Depay, Frenkie, van Dijk, de Vrij, de Ligt, Cillesen)
    -3 Capable (Wijnaldum, van de Beek, Blind)
    -2 Need Improvement (9 and 2)

    1. I think, what the Dutch NT need is a Ruud van Nistelrooy type striker, and an Overmars/Arjen type of winger.

      Please don’t make too many backpasses….

  10. Playing 532 is okay???Since w have good defenders and midfeilders we can go by 433 also..As koeman said where is our quality forwards…okay lets count Depay then????
    i think Malen,stengs,Danjuma has quality…others i am not sure others has it i mean promes,baodu,berjwin etc…but they can be make shifts…
    hateboer neither cannot defend nor attack clearly a b grade player…
    But why karsdorp is ignored???
    why Jetro is ignored??
    why koopmeiners is ignored??

  11. Fowards line needs to be fixed..luuk is a 10 min pinch hitter at best..he is 29 i think..joshua zirkee???
    De jong,De beek,koopmeiners,GRavenberch,Propper,veerman…NO MORE STROOTMAN AND DE ROON..
    De ligt,Devrij with shuurs as stand by.
    Virgil,ake with kongolo as stand by
    Jetro williams,Blind/Winjdal……
    thats the quality players we now and we need all of them..

  12. Tatical moves

    Veltman for Blind was simply to move Ake up and neutralize Moise Kean on the flanks. He was exploiting Blind frequently with his pace and power. Not sure if wijndal or promes would have contained kean either if they would have come on for Blind.

    Babel substitution was just to wind up time.

    This is what I want to see in the next fixtures.



    Bakker-Van Dijk- De Vrij- Karsdorp


  13. Also think FDB should have a look at jeremine lens instead of Babel. He is currently staging a coup at Beskitas for not wanting to leave the club due to his wage demand and could be a free agent soon. He wants Beskitas to pay out his remaining contract sum and is currently training alone. Feyenoord could be his next destination if he becomes a free agent.

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