Oranje ready for the first match

We will keep on doing more “The Road to” posts in the coming weeks, unless Oranje and the other nations are really impressing up the gazoo, but if not and I have time and space, I will keep on making profiles for the Dutchies.

The team has arrived in Qatar and LVG has given his first presser, the key thing that stuck out: a confrontation with Telegraaf journalist who had one more question on Cillesen. Louis the Sun King was not impressed and had another dummy spit. And the next thing was Louis raving about the amazing infrastructure and fascilities in Qatar. Oh, the irony…

Yesterday, the team was considered “settled in” and they had a public training session with the token workers and labourers, as a bit of a “thank you” for the sacrifices (…). Where the US, England and the Canada teams all did this too, but behind closed doors, Oranje had their joint training session with the media present.

I think it’s great that the players do this, but I think the real solutions need to come from higher up of course.

Frenkie was seen chatting with one of the workers, using gestures and sign language it seems… After the conversation, the media asked Frenkie what this was about. Frenkie: “I actually asked him about his living conditions here, and how he was doing but he didn’t want to talk about it. He only wanted to talk football. He told me that he thought I needed to go to Liverpool….”.

KNVB’s Gijs de Jong: “This is not just a token gift. We have been speaking to the differend delegations of labourers here and this is what they wanted. They had to wishes: pick a hotel that treats its workers well and keep on talking about this topic in the media during the tournament.”

Van Gaal was open to have his players mingle with the labourers present but then went into Dictator Louis mode during the trining. He played 11 v 11 with the B-team copying the way Senegal is supposed to be playing. This was all behind closed door as he would have selected his starting eleven for the Senegal game. Later they played some kicking and passing practices and the Dictator was really cracking the whip.

In the 8 v 8 practices later, it’s again full speed. Memphis is playing the full session and at full throttle. Another interesting point: Noppert is the goalie behind the assumed back three of Ake, Van Dijk and Timber.

Skipper Van Dijk explains: “The KNVB gets requests from the Qatar delegations to do this or that. They then bring it to the players committee. As a skipper, I am in that. We accept the proposition and then bring it to the squad. We have decided that if 1 player is not comfortable doing it, none of us will do it. For now, we all support what we have set out to do.”

So, we saw the team wear a Football Supports Change shirt at the start of World Cup qualfiers, and the One Love captains band for Van Dijk during the World Cup. The KNVB is also pushing for a compensation fund to be set up by the FIFA. Some people think it’s all not enough, although the Dutch seem to do more than most other nations. The KNVB has set up auctions of jerseys for which the revenue is used to assist migrants with legal aid and social activities. The Dutch labour union FNV is also involved with support internationally.

The KNVB has never hidden their disgust of the Qatar choice for this World Cup. In 2010, we didn’t vote for Qatar and when they got it, KNVB director Van Oostveen said: “It is crap, it was crap and it will always be crap.” Not sure if this was about the FIFA decision or his own role in sacking Hiddink, then Blind, then appointing Van Breukelen who then pissed off Henk ten Cate only to bring Advocaat back into the role…

Louis van Gaal has called the decision to give Qatar the World Cup: ridiculous.

And thus, Oranje played a nice match versus the labourers. There is laughter and taunting. Slidings and tackles are forbidden. Trickery is not. The whole show ends with penalty kicks, which does give the thing a different perspective. The penalty kick debate may have cost Flekken and Cillesen and it’s quite funny to see the Qatar migrants score one penalty after another against the three Oranje goalies.

All nice, fun and games.

Time to focus on the first match!

It’s close now. What to expect from Senegal without Mane?

Coming Monday we play Senegal. They will most likely play with Sarr, Dia and Diatta upfront. Gueye and Kouyate in the midfield and Koulibaly and Diallo centrally at the back, with Mendy on goal. I am telling you: this is not going to be an easy match. Not at all!

The Senegal coach usually plays a 4-3-3.

But in their build up, Senegal will have the centre backs positioning wide, with a midfielder dropping in between while their full backs will move up the pitch. Not unlike Ajax plays. Usually, it’s Mane who drops into midfield a bit to make the numbers work, but with Mane out it remains to be seen if the replacement of Mane will play the same way. In any case, Van Gaal will want his backs to push up high and to take on their full backs, while the rest of the team will pivot towards that side. For instance, if Dumfries needs to put pressure on their left back, Timber will move into Dumfries’ position and all players will squeeze to the right, with Daley Blind ending up on the left centre back position.

When Oranje builds up, Senegal will most likely move into a 4-4-2 shape, to block the spaces. Mane and one of his partners will pressure our defense and the two midfielders will probably press onto the two Dutch holding mids. This will give great opportunities for our #10 (Gakpo or Berghuis) who can use the space behind their midfield to create something.

It could also be that the defensive shape of Senegal changes, due to Mane out. You could also expect a 4-3-2-1, If that happens, there will be chances for Timber or Ake, the free players, to dribble into midfield, to bait one of the Senegal players to bite, allowing Gakpo or Bergwijn to get into space.

My prediction for this match.

I think we’ll have a tough one. This is a good opponent, the conditions are not great and we’ll have the usual tournament stress I can imagine.

I am not sure who will play next to Frenkie. Koopmeiners seems to be the safe bet. He’s a bit in between Berghuis and De Roon.

I believe we will draw 2-2. I hope Janssen will get a World Cup goal and I believe Gakpo or Bergwijn will find the net as well. We’ll need to win our last two matches, which should be doable.


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  1. Nice gesture to play with the workers, but that’s it. Anything else, from wearing rainbow armbands to badmouthing your hosts whether you like them or not is simply and plain BS. Focus on football, that’s your profession, join social causes outside your workplace. Your are just entertainers, plain as that. Please don’t f.kup like you did during euro 2020 and don’t suck out of me the joy of watching you PLAY FOOTBALL. If they continue with this BS I won’t give a f anymore. You wanna fix the world? Put your millions where your mouth is and distribute to impoverished in India and Nepal. Otherwise shut your mouth and PLAY. Hypocrites. And RESPECT your hosts and don’t be j.erks. You don’t get to dictate the rules in someone else’s house. Or don’t go there at all.
    If they take a knee, I hope they lose.

  2. Dude, take it easy.

    Do not take this out on the players!!

    Do you believe the players chose to play in Qatar? Do you think they want to talk politics.

    Keep it real. They just want to play football but the cowards at the Federations and in politics are using the players to make good.

    It’s a disgrace, so don’t start having a go at them! I am 100% certain they are all quite uncomfortable with this mess.

  3. Noppert, Dumfries, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Ake, Blind, Berghuis, De Jong, Gakpo, Janssen and Bergwijn is the starting 11! I would have preferred Koopmeiners over Berghuis but Van Gaal knows best. I’m glad De Ligt is playing over Timber.

    1. @jean. De ligt is starting over timber. Noppert is making his debut. Berghuis could also be considered a change as Koop started besides frenkie when he was fit. 2 -3 changes is a decent amount. What more are you hoping for? Change the entire lineup that van gaal has been working with for over a year, the day of the first gsme? That would be crazy to make more changes. Trust the game plan, don’t throw it out the window before the first game happens.

  4. If this is supposed to be our best 11 minus Depay, we are in deep trouble. For me the sooner we are out the better so we can start focusing on rebuilding.

    1. @jean. What kind of fan wants to see their team get knocked out as soon as possible. It’s been one half and it’s 0-0. Stop being so negative. Why are you commenting on these blogs if you are actively cheering against Holland.

      1. @jean. What do you mean horribly. It’s the first game in a World Cup. There’s nerves and pressure. It’s against an African team which is a different challenge and style to what we are used to. We won 2-0.

        Could we have been cleaner in our attack, absolutely. It was not a flawless performance. However, we were tactically brilliant from a defensive stand point.

        To call a victory over the champions of Africa a horrible game that no fan should want to watch is an overreaction.

        Let’s also acknowledge that it wasn’t even half time and you were already cheering for the team to lose. I’m shocked that you expect a perfect performance in the first half of our first game or else you will cheer for the team to lose. Where’s your loyalty and support. Your comments make it feel like you would prefer our team to be bad, instead of winning, just so you can feel like your smarter than everyone else and complain.

        1. Don’t worry about what jean venette is saying in this blog. She obviously has issues in her life that she’s dealing with. Her negativity on this blog shows it all.

  5. Jan:

    Thanks for the great preview and for sharing the practice clips! That was a great gesture by the team and recognition to all those who make events like this possible behind the scenes, particularly those doing so under such terrible conditions.

    Hopefully this will be a great showing for Oranje today (although I truly think we lack attacking talent at the level of prior Dutch WC teams)

  6. Senegal has has much more of the ball than I would like / hope.

    We don’t seem to have much cohesion in the midfield so far. Most opportunities are coming on the counter. We just had another in the 18th minute but unfortunately Frenkie couldn’t pull the trigger. That should have been a goal…

  7. Putting aside player quality, I don’t think I’m a fan of LVG’s formation (or at least its implementation so far). Just lots of large occupied spaces in attack and defense, neither of which appear to be to our advantage at the moment.

  8. 33 minutes in an Senegal already has 6 shots on goal. Iran had 8 shots against England for the full match. They’re also outpassing us and the possession stats are right at 50/50. I think we can do a lot better…

  9. Well, the strategy for the second half should be pretty simple — Just do the opposite of what we did in the first half. The front line has had so few touches that it’s hard to blame them, but still surprised that we have been so weak in attack as a team across the board.

  10. Weird lineup. Team is out of sync. Lots of poor passes, especially from Berghuis. He has been terrible. His shot should have been on target.

    Poor performance so far.

  11. I just can’t believe Van Gaal left Danjuma and brought Jaansen to the WC. So far nothing from field surprised me. We look weak and horrible. In order for this team to play decent football, in my opinion 4 changes need to be made. Van Gaal should replace both ring backs by Malacia and Frimpong and replace Berghuis and Jaansen. Since Depay seems feet to play, I would bring him in for Jaansen and Komp for Berghuis to free in De Jong. I also think Timber brings more in possession/transition than De Light

  12. Frenkie just appears too isolated in the midfield and is having to do lots of individual work on the ball. I know that’s his style and maybe we’re trying to feature that more, but currently it’s to the detriment of team. We just don’t seem to be able to build in possession consistently, and the wing mids and attacking mids are not really helping in that regard. It just seems like we need to get close ranks a little and help keep the ball…

  13. deligt has regressed to the player that got us eliminated from a tournament when he was 17 yrs old. Remember that 0-2 against Bulgaria? He only wrestles and gives away free kicks. If he doesn’t get substituted he will be sent off with a red card. Totally careless.
    And the stadium atmosphere is cold, feels like a huge restaurant.

  14. We seem now to be playing mostly through the center and half spaces. Dumfries and Blind are having little impact in attack, particularly Dumfries. If we’re not going to use him out wide, then we might need to try a different option there.

  15. It seems to me like LVG would be happy with a draw. Otherwise I can’t explain the lack of changes. Senegal is solid and imposing and may pull out a win. Very lucky for us than Mane is out.

      1. I would have to assume that we won’t see this initial starting line-up again. But tactically, we really haven’t gotten better with the substitutes. And it’s not like SEnegal is doing anything tactically innovative. They’re just playing a basic 4-3-3.

        Hopefully, we’ll begin to gel more along the way. This mid-season WC is obviously unique, and it may be harder for the players to switch from club tactics to Oranje tactics on the fly…

  16. But even from the most basic tactical level, as Cruyff said, “You’ve got to shoot. Otherwise you can’t score!”

    Senegal: 14 total shots, 4 blocked, 4 on target.
    Netherlands: 8 total shots, 3 blocked, 1 on target.

  17. A Goal still a goal.
    It’s an important win against the biggest opponent in the group. By win against Senegal, Netherlands should easy to top the group.

  18. Happy with the win
    But seriously I hope Van Gaal learnt something

    I don’t trust de ligt . He’s a bomb. Dangerous
    Janssen should not play , give simons the change
    Berghuis not ok

  19. Huge win!!! What a goal by Gakpo.

    Gutsy defensive performance. Poor offensively. But the 3 points are what matter!

    Depay must start on Friday. Changed the game.

  20. Hard fought win. Bad luck for Senegal with so many opportunities and not taking it. Injuries also.
    Noppert,like I said he doesn’t get beaten cheaply.good saves.

    Indeed it turned out be a physical battle. Dumfrie, Diallo, jakpos. Koyate , frenkie.

    1 down 2 to go

  21. There are no easy games in the World Cup. These teams are the best of the best. Good day. Our defense held up.

    Berghuis cannot start again. He was dreadful. We need Koop.

    Blind was actually not bad in defense, but offensively he offered nothing.

    Jaansen did nothing. Start Memphis or Lang v Ecuador.

    Gakpo was excellent. De Jong was good, but also had 2 sloppy give aways. Still he had the great cross for the goal and was our MOTM.

  22. I don’t think we will go far with this kind of performance and these players. From what we saw today England is miles ahead. Let’s give the young players a chance and prepare them for future tournaments. As expected Depay was heavy as a tank. He should give up on eating doughnuts and use Jenny Craig or some other dieting alternative.

  23. I’m very surprised with how much negativity all these comments have. We knew before the tournament that we wanted to be a team that is hard to beat. The players and van gaal have said this and our performance against belguim was very indicative of the way we want to play.

    Clearly we didn’t take big risks and defended very well throughout and had the patience to wait for our opportunities. France was a bit like this in 2018. We are playing to win games, not to please fans who treat squad management like a video game.

    All of our games will most likely be this style as it’s the tactical presence of van gaal. I sure hope that the comments on this blog aren’t going to be extremely negative over everything . Even worse, if we do not win the World Cup there will be a bunch of guys saying “I told you so” as if to say they knew better than van gaal or anyone else. (Btw, it’s easy to pick a team with +1500 odds to win the wc and say, I told you so)

    Would it kill some Dutch fans to drop the absolutism and extreme negativity after winning 2-0 in a World Cup against the champions of Africa.

    1. Others may disagree, but I don’t think I’m being negative — just realistic. This is not our most talented team, but even so, we can play much better than we did today. Maybe LVG was just being conservative if he feels that Senegal is the closest rival in this Group, but I really expect more from him. The team tactics overall were poor and created very few attacking chances. Senegal was not playing negative. They just played a straight forward 4-3-3 and yet we had no rhythm or cohesion and never took control of the match.

      I want us to win and be successful, but today was not convincing, and the players and manager need to do better

      1. @JB I agree it wasnt a perfect performance but with this not being our most talented squad, we have to win as a team rather than rely on individuals. Van gaals tactics today (and im sure the rest of the tournament) were top quality. Strong defensive resilience and then take our opportunities when they come. I doubt we will see any free flowing attacking football from us this tournament.

        If our defensive shape was in shambles, then I would agree that something has to change, but overall, I have the feeling that the squad played exactly how the game plan was drawn up. To criticize the performance for doing exactly what van gaals wants is wrong. You could however criticize the game plan. I think a 2-0 game meant that it was a good game plan and will serve us well against the better teams. If you expect more from LVG game plan, what do you expect? Trade defensive resilience for more open attacking football? Commit more players forward and have less players track back? Do our wingbacks need to play higher? do we switch formations?

        I just dont understand how on one hand you could say we dont have a talented squad but when we execute a defensive game plan to enhance our strongest asset (defense), you say that our manager has to do better. I do understand that some players struggled and that we were disjointed at times.

        1. Anthony:

          All fair points. And after watching the US finish their opener with a 1-1 draw vs Wales after controlling most of the match, a 2-0 victory against likely the top opponent in our Group is great! I just felt like, even with our lesser attacking talent in this cycle, that we could do more/better. The midfield never really gelled during the match, and even when Memphis was brought on, it just became long balls to the target man. I’m not looking for 2009 Barcelona, but I’d just like to see a little more coherent play from the midfield, and Dumfries and Blind as the wingbacks seemed underutilized. Maybe LVG will have a new plan for the next match, but I hope that our midfield can develop better spacing and support (and not get so stretched vertically), because if we just rely on this group of forwards to score on their own, we’re not going to get very far.

          1. @JB I think you summarized it well. We did feel disjointed at times. It was a cagey match, we didnt really break them down or really threaten them too often on the counter. It felt like we needed a “lock picker” for when senegal sat in a low block. We had a few nice passing sequences to get out of pressure but that mostly happened in our own half and wasnt really a threat. What did you think of the attack once gakpo went up top?

  24. Not very easy on the eye..but im very happy with the 3 points.

    I wonder if vGaal will replace deLigt who was really weak. I thought Noppert did really well.

  25. I’ll take a 2-0 win in a WC opener against a good Senegal team anytime. Was not easy, was never going to be easy. I’ll save the comments about starters for the next game I think when I’ve thought about it a bit and we all get around to discussing it in a day or so’s time. For now, am enjoying this one.

    Man of the Match: Frenkie De Jong

    Other mentions: (1) Ake and Van Dyke on the backline. Two guys in their prime with years of EPL experience. So steady and solid. (2) Gakpo, for the obvious reason(s). (3) Dumfries—important to have strong, physical player who will fight for everything. (4) Noppert, seemed a little nervous early, but made important saves as the match went on. Looks like a good shot stopper.

  26. It was an ok performance and a hard fought win against a good opponent.You should start slowly, and get better game by game. We have the three points, I am satisfied with this.

  27. Good afternoon friends!

    First of all, Jan thank you so much for running this blog. I hope you know how many lurkers like me there are, that read this place often but don’t loggin to thank you nearly enough! I share your posts with my family as well.

    I do hope we stay positive as a group on here. I see some people getting so negative and it and really lowers us.

    In my opinion

    Frenkie De jong was fantastic. Yes, he made some mistakes, but we ask so much of him. He really has to progress the ball all by himself. Love how he has the confidence to take charge and make things happen.

    I love myself a huge goalie. Enjoyed him tonight,

    Van Dijk was solid, love seeing him out there and feel re-assured by his presence. Ake Solid.

    De ligt was awful but I love his passion. He is in better form, but Timber might be the better fit for that side.

    Daley Blnd was quiet. Maybe we werent using his side enough, but I barely noticed him the buildup which is his greatest strength. I believe tactically they took him out of the game. Depay coming back will be great. Gives him a better player to hit in space.

    Conversely, Dumfries was getting a ton of touches in build up. I think this is a potential issue for us. Is it Dumfries we want on the ball this much?

    Berghuis a little quiet
    Bergwijn – way too quiet. But I do like him. Strong enough to hold the ball up. Quick enough to get himself space.

    Gakpo – I thought he really made some progressive moves in the second half. Loved his run on the goal.

    Janssen – Appreciate his industry and effort. Below the level we need, but all he can do is his best, not his call to start or not.

    All in all, we aren’t a top top team right now, but we are solid. Let’s enjoy the Sh*t out of this world cup. Hoping we make it to the quarter finals and take on Argentina. Have a feeling we could shock them and end Messi (my GOAT’s) last chance at a WC.

  28. @ Anthony,

    A win is a win fine. I guaranty you that this team could play a lot better had Van Gaal played the best players at his disposal. Now, you left Danjuma home and played with Jaasen. Who does that? What impact Jaansen had in the game you were watching earlier? He is horrible. Van Gaal kept on playing Blin and Dumfries while you have 2 better wing backs on the bench. That’s what I’m talking about. Have you noticed that once Berghuis was out how the midfield was better. Orangutan, said it many times on this blog, Berghuis is horrible. He is a waste. You have a lot more creative players with more technical abilities on the bench than Berghuis. You have Simmons, you have Long and Kopm. I’m not being negative at all. I’m just pointing out the facts. You think you can make your way to the 1/4 final with this line up, think again.

    1. @ jean The impact that starting berghuis and janssen is a 2-0 win against senegal who are a difficult opponent.

      It is pretty insane that you claim you are not being negative when you literally started cheering for holland to be eliminated after 30 minutes of play in the first game.

      Also, you surely are not so arrogant that you believe your opinions are facts and that van gaals opinions are just opinions. ( just to be clear, saying players are good or bad or horrible are subjective opinions, not facts)

      I think its very evident that you look at this squad as if its a video game. You want the highest rated players to be on the field at all times, rather than selecting the 11 players that can execute the vision of van gaal the best and therefore be the best team.

      Why do you say Janssen was horrible. Based on what? I think he was tasked with holding up play and laying it off to other players. He did that. Obviously he isnt a creative player so to compare him to a guy like danjuma seems silly as danjuma would not have been tasked with the role janssen was given. Is he a world class striker, no. Does he serve a purpose under van gaals vison, yes. Did he contribute to the win, yes!

      Honestly, I cant imagine why you even want to follow NT as you clearly have your mind made up that everything we do and every player on the field is shit. It is honestly the weakest argument to complain and say everyone is horrible ( You said 5 of our starting 10 outfield players should be benched.de ligt, dumfries, blind, janssen, and berghuis). With these 5 players we won 2-0…. I would hate to see the result if you were in charge of player selection…

  29. @ Anthony:

    You asked about my thoughts on Gakpo. I actually really developed a much greater appreciation for him in this match. I was not as high on him previously. But in addition to his goal, he registered 3 key passes and 4 accurate crosses with only 36 touches on the ball. If he can develop into our attacking player going forward, that would be great. But we need to target him / get him the ball more.

    Frenkie had a pretty good performance too. 2 key passes, 85% overall passing and 81 touches. He also was fouled 3 times, blocked 2 shots and had 2 tackles.

    I’m actually not a big statistics guy, but sometimes the statistics confirm the story that your eyes saw. Frenkie was highly influential and involved throughout the match. Gakpo did well the opportunities he was given. I thought those two, along with Noppert, were our best performers.

    1. Attacking player = Attacking playmaker

      Other relevant stats:

      Gakpo only had 36 touches but was very productive with those. The only starters with fewer touches were Noppert (32), Bergwijn (25) and Janssen (24). Memphis actually had 20 touches in only 30 minutes. Gakpo did have the second lowest pass accuracy of the starters at 63%, but he only attempted 11 passes. Dumfries was the lowest at 60% and he attempted 30 passes, only 3 of which were crosses. Dumfries is not a possession oriented player, so if he’s starting, he needs to be crossing the ball. Otherwise, 60% is not nearly good enough. In contrast, Blind attempted 42 passes, including 4 crosses, and completed almost 86% of his passes…

      1. @jean @wilson. I felt very similar to you guys on Gakpo. I’m curious why he floated to the right. My eye test was that he was in and out of the game and I’m not sure if it was him not able to find pockets of space consistently or the team not finding him. Your stats confirm this too. Def liked his contributions and thought he was great but there’s another gear for him I feel.

        Agree on depay but he still caused a goal. A bit concerning how he’ll do against stronger teams.

  30. Also most of the phases of his game was centered on the right which is rare as he operates primarily on the left which is his stronghold.

    This was a huge upgrade.

    Elsewhere I have to say this, Depays body language doesn’t look good.

    I also see some comments about the resliance of the defense being the x factor which wasn’t really the case . I thought the defense was exposed a lot from the right. Sarr did alot of damage from that side.

    Kudos to Senegal for providing a good competitive affair, NT can thank Mendy later.

    1. @wilson. I agree there were some shaky moments. I felt like de ligt really struggled against Sarr. What are the odds we go back to timber? In fairness A clean sheet says a lot

  31. Go game by game and grow into the tournament and save your best for the knockouts. We have seen that orange won 5-1 against spain in 2014 WC and lost on penalties against Argentina in semis. So it’s better to peak in knockout stage rather than early,then this team can go far.

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