Tonight is the big night for Oranje. Another finals to play. Oranje will face Latvia in Riga with a new defence and mostly a new midfield, with Jordy Clasie a shock absentee for the game, as the Feyenoord player returned to Holland with a bowel syndrome situation. He won’t be playing against the Latvians and Daley Blind will now definitely play in the central midfielder role.
Hiddink does not seem to have many secrets. “We need to attack and score goals, so we’ll play Robin and Klaasjan together. It works well enough and with those two we will definitely keep their defence busy.”
Depay will play on the left and Narsingh on the right. The back line will consist of Depay’s team mate Jetro Willems, former partners BMI and De Vrij and Greg van der Wiel on the right. Van der Wiel is a surprise for me. I felt Janmaat was a better option, as he has played well with De Vrij for quite a while. But Janmaat and Hiddink seem to have lost it in their relationship ever since the former Feyenoord man was blamed for the loss against the Czechs and was even ignored by Hiddink for a number of games.
It’s quite interesting that last time around, when Oranje played two matches and Clasie was surprisingly ignored in favour of De Jong, the little Feyenoord midfielder also bailed with an injury. Now, after he played in the starting line up in the US friendly, he has to make way for Blind again and suddenly he is injured again. And returning home. Coincidence? Or is Clasie fed up with the antics of his coach?
We’ll find out some time I suppose.
Hiddink did not mention a rift at the press conference and further confirmed that in his eyes, the defence (and defensive midfielder) were not the only ones to blame for the defeat against Team USA. “Defence starts up front. If the forwards and midfielders don’t join in, any defence is helpless.” But…despite these words, all defenders and the defensive mid are being replaced.
The only reason BMI is back in the team is because Vlaar is injured and BMI and De Vrij work well together. Hiddink wanted to focus on the offensive side of the game, as it is a must win match. “If we don’t win we will lose control and don’t have our future in our own hands. We can get 15 points in total, and if we do, we will finish second and qualify for the Euros.”
The Riga stadium wouldn’t be fit for a Jupiler match, with stands lacking behind one of the goals. That is now a parking spot. It won’t be the first time a missed goal attempt hit a car and took a side view mirror.
Daryl Janmaat lost his spot in the squad after the Czech game but doesn’t want to discuss that situation. “I made a mistake. I can see now that I had to have handled that situation differently. You need to make those decisions quickly and I was doing something on impulse that belongs to the Eredivisie but not at this level. I paid my dues. But I was happy that the coach invited me back for the Spain game. I think we need to stop looking at that game now. We lost. We are in a position where we need to get our act together and make this happen. I don’t want to look back but forward.”
Daley Blind will move from left back to centrally in midfield. The former Ajax prodigy: “I get that question a lot. What spot do I prefer. I don’t mind where I play. I want to play. I’ll play wherever the coach needs me. And tonight it’s midfield.” Blind will play with RVP and Sneijder on one midfield and will need to guard the balance in the team. Against Team USA this didn’t work out too well and the Americans had a free road towards Cillesen, at times. “The US Game was tough. The space was too big, the space between the lines. We simply couldn’t play compact and we failed to keep possession. Once we can play compact, we are a tough team to play against.” Asked whether Latvia could be a banana peel for Oranje. “Well, we already slipped enough times… We played well at home against them, but this is a different game. We need to be 100% focused because these days you can lose against any team, it seems.”
One player who impressed Hiddink and his staff but who won’t start is Steven Berghuis. The lanky AZ midfielder/winger was a revelation, said Hiddink. “That is a good lad. Normally young players need some time to adjust to the pace with Oranje. But he did very well when the foreign players weren’t yet here. Usually, when the likes of Van Persie and Huntelaar join in, the pace is pushed up even more. But Berghuis didn’t seem to care. He was one of the best players at times.” The seasoned coach will not start Berghuis, but the youngster has a similar threat as Robben, playing as a lefty from the right and scoring many goals after drifting inside. We might see the former Twente and VVV player make his debut.
Robin van Persie could score a record 50 goals for Oranje tonight. This has never happened before. “It might help even, scoring a record goal. We are under pressure and can use a lift. But to be honest: I love it! I love the pressure. We all feel this is a key game. Bring it on.”
I think we will tear the Lats apart and prove to the world and ourselves this was all an incident. I think we’ll be 3-0 up at half time. Sneijder, Huntelaar and Van Persie scoring. We will add two more in the second half, with Depay scoring one and Huntelaar adding his second to the tally.
Iceland and Czech Republic will draw 0-0.