Oranje’s worst game in decades

Oranje blew Austria off the pitch, as we have been doing for decades. Their last victory over us was in 1990, bwoahahahahaha losers!!! We were able to play from under their press and Malen scored our first goal in the first five minutes of the game, after a wonderful move, including the likes of Geertruida and Schouten! Koeman had prepped his team well and picked the perfect line up. Reijnders had a tap in for 2-0. Then Malen 1 on 1 against the Austrian goalie and obviously he scored! In the second half Gakpo immediately was sent away by Simons: 4-0. Depay followed up with his first of the tournament and Holland’s fifth, while Weghorst was able to score a “Van Persie” header: 6-0.

Koeman: “This team is hungry, the fight, they make the right decisions and as a technical staff we did prep them really well. I’m proud. We might be able to go all the way, you know?”.

Sorry guys, I have to redo my post.

I do not know what I saw. I watch Oranje since 1970 or so and I don’t think I have seen many games as bad as this. We played bad against Portugal in 2006, but at least we put up a fight.

Where did we go wrong? Under-estimating the opponent? Impossible. Anyone with eyes would know how Rangnick’s Austria plays. Was it too warm? Well…. Austria played in the same circumstances. Was there not much to play for for Oranje, as we were qualified already? No, because we could win the group or become 3rd or 2nd, so much to play for (apart from new contracts….).

It was a complete dressing down and the performance and lack of outlook for improvement are more sobering than the loss. Sure, finishing 3rd is not ideal but who knows… it might actually be better than 2nd. But that is all in hindsight. Losing is crap but losing this way is horrific.

We need to start at the start.

Koeman (and the players) mentioned before the game – many times – to be fully aware of what to expect from Austria.

So there is no excuse there.

Koeman’s line-up baffled me. He started with Geertruida, because Dumfries had a little issue. He could play, but why risk him. Fine. Geertruida did ever so well in previous games, in particular the game versus Canada, with Frimpong in front of him.

So you think: Frimpong will play!

But no. Donyel Malen is on the team sheet. A player who is renowned for his lack of work ethic and defending. Not a winger I would play against Austria! And have Malen and Geertruida ever played together??

And I think: don’t use Veerman. This game will be physical, our players won’t get much time on the ball and will be hassled on the ball. That is not how Veerman can play. Use Reijnders next to Schouten and put Xavi on 10. Simple.

Koeman uses Veerman as he is “the one who can play the ball over the top”. Huh? Schouten, Reijnders, Ake, De Vrij and Van Dijk cannot play these balls? Come on!! 30 mins into the game and Koeman ruined Veerman who spent time crying on the bench. ( I don’t think Davids or Robben or Van Bommel would cry. They’d kick a water bottle, a door, a linesman and go shower).

In the first 5 minutes of the game, Oranje was able to pass the ball to 3 team mates in a row only twice!!! Austria did it 42 times. Wow. This feels like Oranje versus Cyprus, but with Austria as Oranje and Oranje as Cyprus.

Our 4-1-4-1 set up got us in to trouble as well. As we ended up mainly with three midfielders ( Gakpo and Malen staying wide) and thinking that 3 midfielder would be enough. Well, with Arnautovitch dropping back and with their wingbacks joining midfield, our midfield was squeezed as a mouse by a boa constrictor. At times our 3 midfielders faced 5 opponents. And always there where it hurt: in the centre.

The first goal of Austria was a typical example. Arnautovic keeps De Vrij busy, the free man pushes up with the ball. Geertruida needs to make a decision and leaves his wing to confront the man with the ball, expecting Malen to track back to help out. Malen recognises it too late (again!) and decides to dash into the box and ends up scoring from the wingback’s cross.

In those first 5 minutes, Geertruida – right in front of Koeman!! – is gesticulating and screaming to his team mates as the Koeman tactics were wrong. Austria does it differently. No Baumgartner and with Sabitzer playing way higher up.

Schouten can’t defend the space, Veerman is lost. Geertruida constantly needs to choose and Van Dijk – our captain – is not able to fix the issue on field.

Oranje started zonal but you can’t defend the space if you constantly have less players in that zone than the opponent.

After 20 minutes, Koeman decides to go man to man on the field and instructs his players as such. But man to man means that if you lose your man once, you are in trouble.

Veerman can’t cope with the intensity and was hella untidy on the ball. Almost half of his passes didn’t end up at their destination and he fumbled possession a lot. Simons comes on for him and Reijnders goes back to the six position.

In my view, Malen should have been taken off as well.

Funnily enough, we should have been 2-1 up by them but both Reijnders and Malen miss sitters (at this level). Both miss kick the ball and in both cases I think it’s a matter of stress. Of muscle stress in the body. Both chances were easy, bread and butter opportunities. Hitting the target but seeing your attempt blocked is always a possibility, but misshitting the ball is usually a result of not being “loose”.

Koeman gives his players the hairdryer at half time, and I’m fairly sure this went both ways! The players must have psyched themselves up as early in the second half, Geertruida – now in midfield- wins the ball and launches Simons. He finds Gakpo who does a Gakpo: 1-1.

We all thought: business as usual now. But our midfield keeps on getting in trouble as we do exactly what Austria wants. We fail to play the ball through the centre, and are pushed to the flanks where they can press us easily.

Their second goal comes from their left, again. And again it’s Malen jogging back to cover his man, giving him all the time to pick a pass. Van Dijk and De Vrij leave a lot of space in between them allowing for these penetrating runs from the Austrians. And we see a series of errors. First Malen jogging back. The two central backs opening the door. Schouten defending and blocking the ball like a little girl and Gakpo needing to track back 50 meters to cover for another team mate and eventually, also Gakpo marks the player in wrong way.

We get back into the game using Plan B: Wout Weghorst. And within minutes, the simple approach works: good cross, header back, excellent ball handling (but not hands) by Memphis: 2-2.

And I foolishly thought: okay, now we’ll get them.

But, they got us. In the 83rd minute, it was Marcel Sabitzer running like a mad man with the ball, while Oranje was dreaming of another get out of jail card, it was Schouten who let his man go, De Vrij stepping up to put pressure on …. empty space and most tellingly leader and captain Van Dijk lurking two yards behind the last line of defence, thereby playing Sabitzer on. Who scored magnificently.

So both Gakpo and Schouten are guilty of letting a man go, but… it was never their man! Chaos on the pitch.

This Oranje was dressed down completely. Including the coaching staff!

After the match, the commentary of the players was dumbfounding. Sombre, cliched comments like “I wasn’t good” and “we need to do better” and “they were everywhere” and “I wasn’t sure who would pick up who”.

Captain Van Dijk didn’t get much more out than container terms and cliches

Jerdy Schouten was the only player who actually talked about football, tactics and application. All the others were quick to defend poor Joey, by saying “the coach could have subbed all of us”. Well well well…

Even Koeman had to admit: yes it was a disgrace. And he got the question: if we are kicked out of the tournament after the first knock-out game, what will this mean for your future? Koeman has a contract till 2026 (incl World Cup). Koeman made it clear he’d probably pack his bags if that was going to be the case.

All in all, in my book, Memphis was one of the better players and scored a really good goal. Gakpo had his moments. Ake was as per usual pretty good and Verbruggen can’t be faulted, but otherwise…

The most disturbing thing for me, was the lack of maturity, the lack of tactical smarts and leadership on the pitch.

Sure, Koeman didn’t pick the right players nor tactics, but when you have experienced players from City, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Atletico on the pitch, you expect leadership. It felt like Geertruida was the only player, with Schouten, who was trying to make a change really early in the game already.

Where was Van Dijk? Who can play the Van Hanegem, Van Bommel, Wes Sneijder or Frank de Boer role? Grabbing a team mate by the ears and read him the riot act? Did it come to this in our society (not just football): we look at the coach to see what needs to be done? We look at the WHO to tell us what to inject? We look at the government to find out what is appropriate and what is not?

Disgusted. In one word.

Tell me your solutions please. And not “Koeman needs to go!”. That doesn’t help now Tell me your solutions for the next games.


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  1. Romania game is infinitely winnable. Changes are a must and a riot act needs to be delivered to Virgil: rise up or be benched. Need a quick goal. Romanian center backs are not very mobile or very tall. So
    Ake De Ligt Van Dijk Geertruida
    Rejnders Xavi Frimpong Gakpo
    Depay Werghorst

  2. I have said this before and I’m saying it again. The team with best cutting edge midfield will win this euros.

    For the Dutch this is again where the black hole lies.they are simply average to below average with no cutting edge and While other teams have ball carriers who can penetrate through middle channels, the Dutch are stuck in the past with their lateral passing and build up from the back or if not are toothless breaking from middle channels. ( Simons exception to some extent). If you look at at prime wijnaldum, he use to be the link between the backs and forwards with Frenkie doing what I’m saying but then he hasnt lived up to expectation when needed the most so its hard to call how his (Frenkie) presence would have turned out this time around. Again it is what it is, no efficient link up between the forwards and backs and then the tactics itself being deployed by koeman. I said this again before euros as to what koeman was cooking with Ake starting at LB, it just doesn’t complement the team in terms of balanced attack on both flanks. These is where the Dutch need to improvise on because a well balance team will attack on all fronts and not just one. This is when the cracks in this tactics gets exposed and then again you have to go tactical to mitigate to opposition tactic and you never know what the outcome or recovery is going to be experimenting experimenting which again sometime works and sometimes backfires.

    Wijnaldum selection has once again has been a rotten one, blind as well. On the RCM they is no one except for schouten. Make shift is just useless and toothless.

    1. Wilson and others: we lost 5 midfielders in the run up to this tournament, of which 4 (Frenkie, De Roon, Wieffer, Koopmeiners) were regulars in the squad. Timber was definitely selected too if he was fit. We are currently playing with Veerman/Schouten, untested on this level but having done so well at PSV.

      Wijnaldum plays in S Arabia and for some this is a reason not to select him. Ask C Ronaldo and Kante what they think of this.

      With Wijnaldum, at least we have experience in midfield. Tell me which players you’d have selected for these roles. Sneijder? Cocu?

      We simply miss players and Frenkie is a key player. I think Luuk de Jong would have been key too.

      So the question now is: do you believe Koeman needs to go back to 5-3-2, the system we hate? And the players as well, by the way? Or 4-4-2? An untested system?

      We simply have no better options at the moment, it’s that simple!

      I’m sure Blind would be happy to play right midfield?

  3. You have to acknowledge koeman has dodged the bullet from the favourable draws. They can reach the SF but his exist shud be follow after the euro ends

  4. Thanks for the detailed and insightful analysis, Jan! You tend to capture a lot of nuance that I am often oblivious to.
    So, through some combination of work demands and divine intervention, I was not able to watch the Austria match, although that now seems like a positive for everyone concerned (including all of you who would’ve otherwise been subjected to numerous insightful real time in-game comments from me such as “we’re terrible!”, “we‘re really terrible!”, “hey, we scored!”, “wow, we’re even more terrible than I thought”, etc.).

    My son and daughter have managed to watch virtually all the televised matches though, and my son provided the following observation: “Every team in this tournament can manage to generate a coherent attack through the midfield when they need to, even the bad teams, other than two — Albania and the Netherlands.” Again, although I didn’t see the Austria match, I can’t say that I disagree with him from what I have seen.

    So while I thought coming into this tournament that our front line would be the problem (and I still don’t think our finishing has been remotely adequate), and while many others are now suggesting that our back line has not been performing up to par, it seems to me like the real issue may be our midfield selection, cohesiveness and positional play. For me, Veerman and Schouten are not nearly contributing enough. Their roles have been very limited, and when isolated they have not performed that the level you would expect. Obviously, they had a different set-up and coaching with PSV, but we don’t have that luxury right now. And I’d almost be willing to sacrifice both of them in the lineup going forward.

    I think Xavi is key, but he must have a defined role. I think he is still too young and undisciplined to just be given free rein to roam. I think Reijnders has done a good job generally in all phases of midfield play, and he seems the most versatile of the group. But we need more composed, better positioned and more incisive passing players in order for us to build our attack through the midfield. I wonder whether Gravenberch needs to be introduced, or if either Blind or Ake needs to be placed in the midfield to provide a little bit of a cooler and more competent distributor.

    For the wide players, I’d probably go with Frimpong and Geertruida on the right and van de Ven and Gakpo on the left, with either Memphis or Weghorst up top. Malen and Dumfries are not technical enough for the way I’d like to play, but may still be useful Plan B options.

    Maatsen, Brobbey and Zirkzee would all be interesting options to try as well, but it would’ve been nice if ANY of them had seen any action prior to the knockout round, so I don’t know that we can really start any of them at this point. I do think so that we should see what either Ake, Blind or Gravenberch can do in the midfield though.

    Is that too radical? Too much of a soft, finesse, attacking oriented line-up? From what I’ve seen (and what I haven’t seen, but heard), it doesn’t seem like we could do much worse than what we’ve achieved so far, so for me, it’s time to try something different / new…

  5. Been keeping an eye on the transfer market. Want to introduce you guys to tijjani Noslin. Exciting youngster whom lazio have almost signed. Keep a tabs on him next season. Just switched from eredivisie last season to hellas Verona. Big transfer for him. Can play anywhere upfront. I wont jump to the gun yet but followed him at hellas Verona last season. Good talent with individual qualities, clinical,fast ,versatile

  6. The key is to play to your strengths, and if you don’t have any cutting edge strength, play to minimize/hide your obvious weaknesses. I will use the Everton example again as I find a lot of similarities in the capabilities (or lack thereof) between Everton 23-24 and this Oranje. Decent defense (only when the center halves are shielded), Fullbacks who can cross if needed and if they can get forward, no ball-handler/carrier in the midfield, fast wingers who tend to come inside, and a big target hit man.

    The Everton coach Sean Dyche adapted a simple (boring) quick long ball game to the flanks or to the hitman (Calvert Lewin) and have no more than 2 from midfield/wing move up to quickly launch attacks from the knock downs from the hitman. The linkman would be the box-to-box mid who had a free role to cover the whole field (Doucoure). The whole idea was to not get caught in transition if the team lost the ball as the shape at the back was kept consistent with the roving Idrissa Gueye shielding the two center backs (Tarkowski and Branthwaite) all the time.

    Oranje needs to play that way. The purists and the 4-3-3 dreamers will call this style gerrible and what not but this is exactly what they need to do: hide the weaknesses. Playing Memphis as a false-9 at the start and later if we are chasing the game have him/Gakpo play in tandem with the big hit man (Weghorst). Xavi plays the box-to-box and Reijnders the shield.

    In a like to like comparison, Everton’s center halves were faster, and much better in the air and tackling. Since Oranje’s defense is slow, have an extra faster center half to provide cover and always keep an eye for the opposition’s playmaker in the defensive third. Mickey can play that role. Everton used Ben Godfrey, a faster center half but limited in coverage in that role against the top teams.

    So, my recommended team (5-3-2):
    Dumfries – DeVrij – Van Dijk – Micky – Ake
    Reijnders – Xavi – Memphis
    Frimpong – Gakpo

    Regardless of the score, Wout should come in around the 65 minute mark. If we are leading, he should play the lone target man while the rest of the team falls back. If we are chasing, he should play as the second striker (assuming Memphis or Gakpo plays more centrally then).

    With this strategy and line-up, we MAY have a shot.

  7. I think I fall more within your dreamer / idealist camp. I’m actually pretty depressed with the state of football today generally. I feel like it’s become increasingly homogenized in style / approach and is way over-coached. Midfielders more and more are mindless automaton athletes who run around pressing and “carrying” the ball forward but are incapable of providing any individual initiative or creative spark (see essentially any recent Liverpool midfielder). And we hail all of these supposed great forwards to whom we constantly try to feed the ball, but who turn out to be jacks of all trades but masters of none.

    Personally, I think a big part of the reason meltdowns like the Austria game happen is because the players in the modern era are no longer developed or empowered to think for themselves. They play with strict tactical instructions and use specific patterns to advance the ball into specific areas, from which areas other specific attacking movements are to be implemented. And there’s no real movement off the ball unless it’s been pre-rehearsed. I’m certainly not endorsing the Marc Wilmots / Harry Redknapp style of eschewing tactics altogether in favor of the “go kick it about and let the star players figure it out” approach, but I feel like the sport has become so dictated and micromanaged from the sideline that a lot of the creativity and on-the-field innovation has been lost. Further, I don’t know that we’ll truly see many new Sneijders, VDVs, Modrics and Ozils emerging in the near future because those players are no longer being developed as actual midfielders. Anyone who shows any flash of skill or promise gets shifted into the combo wing / striker / false 9 role, but most never really reach their potential in any of those capacities. And anyone who’s not a strapping athlete isn’t considered for a midfield role anymore.

    As a result, modern midfielders either don’t possess or develop the individual vision, understanding and autonomy to create on the field and thus can’t combine with teammates in ways that aren’t scripted.

    But when you happen to glimpse one of those intuitive, spur of the moment moves or combinations, it’s so inspiring! They’re just so few and far between these days and I think its a shame that we’re so eager to be copycats and rely on the pervasive modern system rather than actually put in the work to develop our own thoughts, ideas and solutions. And as someone smart once said, “It’s better to go down with your own vision than with someone else’s.”

  8. Absolutely agree with you. Football (soccer) is slowly but surely turning into Football (American) in terms of being scripted. My daughter uses two terms to describe modern football: “theatrical” and “robotic”. I really can’t disagree with her.

    But, it is now a result-oriented billion dollar business where results reign supreme. So, I can totally understand the evolution of strategies like low-block, ultra-shield. People prefer to not lose than to win.

    I am a purist myself like you. As a non-Dutch international fan, I fell in love with Oranje during the Total Football days. I suspect we all are subconsciously hoping to see it again. But I also want to see Oranje win and keep winning. So, I have compromised dreams with reality. For example, did I enjoy the way the 2010 World Cup team played? Hell, no. Did I enjoy the ride though? Absolutely.

  9. my question to vikram is how will they counter the pressing teams. you have talked about how the dutch shud play from attacking pespective. to their strength etc.

  10. I want to draw an analogy with pressing in soccer and blitzing in American football. It leaves a gap behind the pressers. A quick long ball is almost always an effective tool against the press. Draw them close to you and send the ball behind them to an onrushing winger or forward.

    On the defensive side, Oranje should play a low-block (I know it is not in the Dutch DNA) as it can hide their midfield weaknesses. They did play that style a bit against France though.

    1. Back when I was coaching, I pressed hardest against the teams that wanted to play possession for that exact reason. I wanted to take away their short passing options and force them out of their rhythm and to play a style they were not built for. Then we’d just win the ball back easier and play our game and make them chase and defend, which they also typically didn’t enjoy and weren’t good at. Most of those matches were pre-Klopp era, although we had our own less complex, fast-paced “heavy metal” football style 🙂

      Speaking of fast paced, my kids took me to the USA – Panama match tonight, and despite the result we had a blast! When Pulisic and Balogun have some real time playing together, they are going to be a lethal combo. The midfield can be decent too, but an early Weah red card changed the entire dynamic and the US back line wilted repeatedly under pressure. Still, they had numerous chances in attack, even playing with 10 virtually the entire match, but just couldn’t get a second goal. I think the US will now need a good result against Uruguay to even advance from their group, which will be tough, but at least they’ll get to start out with 11 players again…

      1. What a coincidence. I was at the game too. US (Tim Weah) blew that easily winnable game with a stupid, needless red card. The injury to Turner also had a big impact as the substitute goalie never looked confident. The shot for the second Panama goal came straight at him albeit fast, but he let it slip through his hands.

        1. Haha! That’s so cool! Did you have a good time? We ended up having great seats and I was able to show my kids a lot of the tactical stuff that was (or wasn’t) happening. Really enjoyed watching Balogun especially!

          What did you think of Berhalter’s adjustments after the red card. Never a great situation to be in 20 minutes in, but I felt like the revamped defense never really gelled and removing Reyna was not the right choice, especially with how hard he was working (in contrast to Pulisic, who didn’t seem to make much of an adjustment at all).

          I think I would’ve dropped either Adams or McKennie back in as part of a back three, pushed the outside backs slightly forward and let Reyna cover the middle with the other of McKennie / Adams while Pulisic and Balogun stayed up top to keep Panama honest and try to keep attacking.

  11. France showed against Austria what to do. And ORanje tried to do this, but failed.

    Play more direct.

    You can try and play from under the press with gifted ball players or you go long (or you mix it up).

  12. I never played nor coached the game, and, these days can only occasionally watch games.

    What i saw the other day (and can’t stand, to be honest) was a bunch of players who did not seem to care.

    No movement off the ball (or with the ball for that matter), no pressing, no urgency.

    All the things Switzerland showed against Germany, 🤣😆🤣🤣.

  13. The NT has an abundance of good defenders and the midfield has been thinned to almost nothing by injuries. Playing three at the back makes sense, doesnt it? Too, my assumption is that Dumfries will start, and when he has been on the field, there has been alot of space for Schouten and De Vrij to cover. An extra defender tightens that up. I’d like to see: Dumfries, De Vrij, VVD, Ake and Van de Ven; Reijnderts, Schouten; Simons; Gakpo, Depay.

    @Guillame, I don’t mean to put a hex on the Swiss, but in my mind, they have played the best on that side of the bracket. If the Dutch can’t, I’d love to see them win this thing. So fingers crossed for tomorrow.

  14. @andrew
    I’ve been thinking the same basic thing this whole time, even before we sprung all of these leaks in our defense. Our strength should be in defense, based on the team we have available currently. And because we know that the midfield is weakened with the loss of Frenkie and Koopmeiners, three at the back seems imperative.

    The only thing I’d change in your starting line up is the right side— I’d have Geertruida start instead of de Vrij and Frimpong instead of Dumfries. I think Geertruida plays more in synch with vvD and he seems more athletic and quicker than de Vrij. And Frimpong has more speed and better skill than Dumfries.

    I know this sounds crazy to even say, but IF we could go up by a couple of goals against Romania, it would be really great/smart to give Zirkzee some time on the pitch. At this point we know what Wout can do, we know what Brobbey, Bergwijn, Malen, etc will typically do, but we don’t know how Zirkzee would work as an Oranje No. 9

  15. Depay looked good in that free role vs Canada and that’s how I would go with. Two strikers in the box in attack and depay roaming around falling deep. Ramp up that left flank.

    Depay- brobbey- frimpong


    Reijnders- schouten

    Maatsen- Ake- Van Dijk- Geertruida


    The inclusion of maatsen being the tatical change of providing those crosses in the box and also license to go high as false winger when Depay false back.

    Depay brobbey


    Maatsen- reijnders- schouten- frimpong

    Ake Van dijk- Geertruida


    This will give Simon’s what he needs.

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