Oranje is going into the final preparations for the France game on a high. After months and months of negativity, bad results and pressure, the tides seems to be turning. Danny Blind has been under a lot of pressure, and mostly due to circumstances beyond his control. But he is still standing. His performances at the press conferences get more and more applause. He’s confident, articulate, funny and goes his own way. The process around Quincy Promes as an example. Criticism on the lad, doubts…but Danny stuck to his guns. Told the media he trusted that Promes would come good. And three days later, Promes pays it back with a very good performance and two goals.
Another positive with Blind, is he doesn’t sugar coat. Hiddink was always fuzzy in his post match analysis. Van Gaal would not and could not accept any criticism, but Danny Blind calls it like he sees it. “The last 15 minutes of the first half were simply not good enough. I was quite alarmed about it and we need to fix that now.”
The French are confident going into this game. Coach Deschamps at his presser: “Oranje is always dangerous. They might have had their problems but they have excellent forwards. They’re unpredictable and can make it hard for opponents. We will come and go for the 3 points though. It’s still a long way to go, though. If we can’t win, we need to make sure we don’t lose.”
We heard that one before.
Oranje had to make some changes to the squad of course. Luciano Narsigh injured himself (thigh), while earlier on Cillesen and Sneijder had to drop out. Tonny Vilhena has been called up and Feyenoord utility man Jens Toornstra (playing wide right, wide left and #10 for Feyenoord) is joining the squad.
I don’t expect Blind to make too many changes, despite the defensive howlers vs Belarus. He might bring De Vrij in for Sneijder ( 5-3-2) or bring De Vrij for Bruma and Propper/Clasie for Sneijder ( 4-1-4-1).
It’s also time for forget about Robben! The last week was dominated by news about a player who was not in the squad. He is in Munich. He hasn’t played regularly since March! And we’re obsessed with “Robben yes, Robben no”. This will give the squad the feeling that the guy who isn’t there is more important than the 23 players who are there. Aad de Mos said it without holding back: “We need to forget about Van Persie, Huntelaar, Robben and potentially Sneijder. If they can play and are fit: great! If not, we need to give the current squad the opportunity to step up and step out of Robben’s shadow.”
This game can go in different ways of course. We need to accept that France on paper is stronger than Oranje, at this stage. If all their big guns are on song (Matuidi, Pogba, Griezmann, Payet) and our team is playing like the third quarter of the first half, we’ll get our ass kicked.
If they are playing under par and Oranje is playing to their qualities, we might draw.
We can only win if our key players reach a top level (Promes, Wijnaldum, Janssen, Strootman) and France disappoints (like the Euros final).
I’ll go with that last scenario. Let’s beat the Frogs 2-0.