Sloppy Oranje does just enough

“I want to see how these guys do under pressure. When they’re playing a match for real. To see how they cope with the Oranje Stress”. The words of Louis van Gaal when he announced to play 11 new lads for the Wales game.

The so-called “Black Team” as he calls them. This is the team of subs, dressed in black jerseys during practice, who won against the A Team twice at training. “This never happened to me before. The Black Team was better at the high press than the so-called A-Team. Although, I don’t call them A or B Team. They’re all Oranje internationals.”

Van Gaal had decided weeks ago already, with an eye on the schedule (4 games in 8 days) that he was going to use a completely different team versus Wales. What worked in Louis’ favour, was the win over Ukraine by Wales, getting them their first World Cup ticket in centuries (…). The Welsh coach also played a lot of new names and their super star Gareth Bale started on the bench.

The result? A sluggish game. Two teams well versed in tactics and the Wales coach copied the system LVG played, which resulted in a bit of a stalemate first half, from a tactical perspective.

Add to that the sluggish start by Oranje and the sloppiness on the ball and we were looking at a below-par first half.

Van Gaal started with De Ligt on the left hand side of the central defenders. Very much against his own philosophy. And it showed. The build up from the left was slow and with his right, De Ligt constantly “forgot” to play in Malacia.

The Dutch Tactical Maestro and next to him, Louis van Gaal

De Vrij wasn’t able to shine in this department either, as Gakpo and Weghorst were not able to find any space. Lang drifted in true Memphis style, but the tactical set up of Wales blocked any potential move through their ranks, also because the ball circulation pace was too slow.

After 25 minutes or so, Van Gaal instructed Blind to make some changes. Van Gaal had started with a 3-4-2-1 system, but as Gakpo and Lang were struggling, he decided to get Lang back to midfield proper, and push Gakpo next to Weghorst.

Slowly, Holland got more grip on the midfield and controlled the game, without creating serious chances in the first half.

Koopmeiners played a poor first half, not able to accelerate the game with his passing, as he tends to play in one pace, when he’s in Oranje. Schouten, on the other hand, impressed more. He showed some typical Frenkie-turns and is keen to find the forward pass. He takes risks, and is constantly available for a give and go. His only “weakness” is that he seems to refuse to use his left foot.

Jordan Teze impressed Van Gaal as a PSV player, but the youngster got a yellow card early in the game – the Swedish ref needs to find a nice music band to join so he can whistle all day long – and that seemed to be a heavy burden. Teze played insecure, his forward press was at times too slow and his passing was sub-par. He will get more chances in Oranje but he will have to deal with De Vrij, De Ligt, Timber and maybe even Veltman or Schuurs before he gets the nod again, me thinks. We’ll see him again now, I think, but moving forward, he will need to improve.

Another player who will struggle to wear the orange again is Hans Hateboer. The sympatico Atalanta players is simply lacking speed in handling. He dwells on the ball, his positioning at times is poor and without his killer sliding tackle he would have had egg on his face a couple of times. Time for Karsdorp!

Oranje got some half chances, but late in the first half, Cody Gakpo should a bit of his magic when he wriggled his way past a defender in the box and almost slotted the ball home. A late block had the ball richoche’d behind the goal.

Noa Lang would end up being the key player in the second half to turn things Oranje’s way. Van Gaal wanted more pace, more intensity and more simple one/two touch football. Enter Noa Lang.

Started as a forward but pushed back into midfield, where the roaming AC Milan target was strong in possession and was constantly looking to create something. His heat map will be interesting.

The Koopmeiners 0-1 came from the movement of Lang. Picking up the ball around the middle line, a couple of give and goes, then a move to the left and when Malacia played in Schouten, Lang made a forward run which gave Koopmeiners the space to take on the ball with his right (he’s a natural southpaw) and place the ball perfectly for his right (again). A dry, low shot was too much for the Wales shot stopper.

Koopmeiners’ first Oranje goal. Assist Schouten.

Despite being up, Holland still played sloppy and was not that good in retaining possession. For this reason, LVG brought Frenkie and Bergwijn, two players who can hold the ball well. Schouten came off, with a big high five and Gakpo, disappointing, made way for the Spurs man.

Still, Wales was able to play va banque and pushed hard to create something. Gareth Bale joined in and with some crosses and attempts from distance, Wales got closer to scoring.

In the first minute of the extra time, a cross from the right was defended poorly by Hateboer (again) and the Welsh dragons made it 1-1.

The Dutch decided to not give up and it was a masterful move by Barca man De Jong which resulted in a glorious winning goal. Under pressure, Frenkie chipped the ball out of harms way. Steven Bergwijn read the situation and played Frenkie in, who made a dart across the length of the pitch. Two Wales players tried to hack him down, to no avail and left back Malacia was on hand as left winger for the out ball. He didn’t dilly-dally and crossed the ball towards the penalty spot where a wounded Wout Weghorst warrior headed the ball in the top corner: 1-2.

Late goal for Oranje, Frenkie can’t stop running…

By then, Martins Indi was in the team for a tired De Ligt who got a case of the cramps.

LVG was quite realistic after the game. He praised the team for keeping on fighting. Schouten got the praise he deserved but LVG did make a point about him needing to use his left foot more. When asked about the Oranje team with or without Frenkie de Jong, he quipped: “He is valued at 110 million euros. Not for nothing.”

In my view, Cody Gakpo is a nice prospect for the future. He’s clearly dealing with his transfer. He seems out of sorts and a bit too timid.

Weghorst is useful as a super sub. But Luuk de Jong might be better suited. Luuk is a better header of the ball (sounds odd right after Wout’s winner).

Noa Lang is a type of player you need in the squad. Confidence, ballsy, difficult and unpredictable. His work rate in this game was amazing. He clearly wanted to be important for the team.

Teun Koopmeiners needs to step up in Oranje. Show leadership and accelerate the game more. Playing too safe too often and too much in one pace. We all know how good he can be.

Jerdy Schouten is a stayer. He will make the cut, I think. He’s a quick thinker, he’s aware and tactically smart. Overall good skills.

Hans Hateboer is too lightweight for Oranje I feel. Malacia on the other side was fine. Wasn’t used too well in the first half, but was key in the second half with a role in both goals.

De Ligt is world class. But not on the left. De Vrij was fine, no drama. Jordan Teze is also too lightweight for me, at this stage. I rather see De Vrij there, if Van Dijk is available, than Teze. Good prospect though.

Mark Flekken was a bit insecure. Couldn’t help the goal, but flapped a number of times. I also believe that Wilson free kick, he could have and should have held on to the ball. I don’t like all these keepers stomping the ball away. I think Bijlow will be #1, Cillesen #2 and Flekken #3.

Next up, Poland in Rotterdam. I expect a mix up of the teams.


Dumfries – Timber – De Vrij – Ake – Malacia

Schouten – Frenkie


Lang – Berghuis

Something like this….

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  1. It’s hard to really rate these guys with the wholesale change that ensued. I would have love to see LVG do it in twos and threes, inserted amongst the first teamers in the past encounters. For what it’s worth, this is my opinion.

    Flekken- he has never inspired confidence and I won’t blame the coach if he starts sniffing around for a third choice goalie. Cillesen is by far the best goalie Oranje has got. Given his experience and performance in his last game after a prolonged absence, I do not know why this is still up for debate.

    Hateboer has always being a waste of time. But we all know once our management sinks their teeth on a subject, they simply cannot be wrong.

    Teze is not ready for Oranje. He played with nerves(understandable) and possibly needs a few invite to show out. Youth and athleticism is on his side and this should be a great learning curve.

    Schouten didn’t have the best of games and I would think that this experience should do him a world of good. He is not a slouch by any stretch and he was brave on trying a number of tight passes. One for the future.

    Gakpo was rusty and got lost in the cloud of new faces. Too much happening around him at once.

    Weghorst- I was more impressed by his fight and physicality than even his goal. Oranje do not need LDJ. Weghorst can essentially do everything Luuk does and he is far more mobile.

    Again, Dutch management have to find a way to integrate these players incrementally in a first team situation to be a able to assess them better in as close as possible of a real game situation.

    1. Yep. The only difference between Luuk de Jong and Weghorst is Luuk’s heading strength. Weghorst is average, as a header. Luuk de Jong is easily one of Europe’s best.

  2. This is a practice game and we got another 11 starting. It is good experiment because now we know what is not working and can adjust.

    De Ligt is a victim of this selection, he should be played on the right side, if we keep shuffling him like this, when the starting 11 get injured and he play, he will make mistake. Both wings are dead. Hateboer is not Oranje material, the RWB should be a fight between Dumfries/Frimpong and Kardorsph. Malacia get no pass from De Ligt because De Ligt is right footed. Teze is not ready yet. We should call a LCB that is left footed like Botman or Struijk. I don’t think the midfield and forward’s performance are impacted a lot by this flow. With functional left and right wings, they might play differently.

    I like the fighting spirit of the team. Even if we fielded second team, we still aim for the win and fight for it.

  3. I have always said this, rotation is always healthy for fine tuning and building a quality depth in team.

    I can see now Lang breathing on Berghuis neck. His work rate, dropping deep to link up in phases and flow was good especially when Frenkie came on. Berghuis comes no where near to this and only flourishes when in open space.This is why I was adamant players like him, Danjuma will thrive better as they play more and more. Once their confidence level is on the same page as others, bang, lift off.

    If van Gaal can really fine tune this time and with all players avaliable in September Im telling you, NT will the team to watch at the WC. Being on Argentina and Brazil

  4. @ Wilson
    You are being just like Jan. There is no hype about Noa Lang my friend. Same average player. Guys, ya really need to start accepting this generation for what it is, start accepting these players for who they are. As far as this world cup is concerned, please lower ya expectations. Even though our group seems to be easier on paper, it’s not going to be that easy. By the way, if I have to pick a descent line up for the world cup, I would go like this


    Kardops – De Vrij – Van Dijk- Ake – Malacia

    (anyone ?) – Frenkie


    Bergwijn – Danjuma
    If I was Van Gaal, I would try this line a few times before our opening game.

    1. Yep, that line up will work. Bijlow for Cillesen for me.

      Otherwise I don’t see eye to eye with Jean. I think we have a solid team with some exceptional players in it (Van Dijk, Frenkie, Memphis, Danjuma).

      It’s enough. The Argentina 1986 team? The Brazil 2002 team? Did they have 11 world class players? No, but it is all about the team. And I trust LVG. I think he’s a bit of a tool as a guy, but he knows what he’s doing.

  5. Equador, in our Group A in Qatar, will most likely be disqualified for playing a Columbian born player in the Chile matches. He used a fake passport and birth certificate.

    It means Chile will now be qualified and in our group. Oops. It’s not a done deal yet.

    In other news: De Ligt is open to a move (Chelsea, Barca, Man U) and it seems Frenkie will go to Man United. Danjuma is hinting at a EPL return. Schouten is on the Inter Milan wishlist, while Dumfries or De Vrij might be used as trading cards with Chelsea, for Lukaku.

    Bergwijn is a priority for Ajax but his performances in Oranje have attracted bigger teams.

    Interesting times ahead.

  6. @ Jan,

    Are you serious? There is absolutely no comparison between this dutch team and the 2002 Brazil. By the way the 1986 Argentina had Maradona. Who do we have? You can maybe compare the 2010 dutch team with the 2002 Brazil but definitely not this generation. Please go ahead and look at the 2002 Brazil squad. Zero comparison.

    1. I think the most relevant metaphor would be Italy 2020. No superstars, but a good unit who worked and fought hard.

      Or you could say 1994 Brazil, who had Romario and Dunga as superstars, but was really very average after that. Obviously 2004 Greece comes to mind.

    2. I am not comparing players. I am saying that a team with a couple of amazing talents paired with 7 hard working tactical astute players can win you the trophy.

      But you are correct, the Brazil squad of 2002 is actually a top world class squad hahaha. Bad comparison indeed.

      But my point stands. I have seen amazing teams full of big name players fail (Oranje 1990, Germany 2018, France 2002, Italy 2010, Spain 2014…)

  7. I would never say this team is a favourite for the World Cup, but I also wouldn’t put them in the category of ZERO chance of winning. To me, the favourites would be France, Argentina, Brazil. I think that England, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Holland and Belgium all have a chance of winning. Then there’s probably a handful of teams with a punter’s chance of winning, and then a bunch I would say have 0 chance.

  8. @ Dereck

    With the line up against Belgium I guaranty you, we got ZERO CHANCE , ZERO. I have been watching all these guys for the past 5 years. What we have seen, is what they can give. Do not expect any miracle.
    If you see my post a little while ago, I put a line up that is a little bit more competitive.
    Even Jan agrees with it. Maybe we need to start up a petition. Get a million signatures.

    1. Its essentially 4 knockout games to win a world cup. All you have to do is be good or be lucky for 4 games. Germany, who won in 2014, nearly lost to Algeria in the Round of 16. Spain, who won in 2010, lost their first match to Switzerland. Italy, who won in 2006, had to get a very friendly call against Australia in the round of 16. Turkey and South Korea both reached the semi-finals and put on competitive games against strong Brazil and German teams. Croatia with Davor Suker and friends got 3rd in 1998.

      You do not need to be world beaters to win a game of football. Any team can beat any team. The fact you have to do it 4 times in a row drastically decreases the odds, but its not zero. Leicester City did it over 38 games, you don’t think Holland can do it over 4?

  9. @ Dereck,

    Let me ask you: even with our golden generation, we did not do it. What make you think you can do it with this team? Let’s be real!

    1. This is such a bad argument. We didn’t win in 74 because Maier stopped our attempts. We had many chances. Nothing to do with lack of quality.

      In 1978, we hit the post in the last minute. Otherwise the trophy was ours.

      In 1998, we were refused a spot kick in the semis vs Brazil.

      In 2010, Webb made an error which cost us..

      In 2014, penalty kicks in the semis.

      Nothing to do with lack of quality of these golden generations. Just football. Details. Bad luck. “Inside post, outside post”. Doesn’t prove anything.

  10. @Jeanv


    Kardops – De Vrij – Van Dijk- Ake – Malacia

    (anyone ?) – Frenkie


    Bergwijn – Danjuma

    I really like this lineup. Oozing unpredictability and athleticism.

    Toss in prime Van Bommel or Strootman in tandem with FDJ and you have the darkest horse a world Cup has ever seen.

  11. @ Orangtan

    I know Ake and Malcia are shot but De Vrij and Van Djik can conver for them. I think we need to start a petition. LOL Send this line up to Van Gall.
    Jan, can you make this happen. AT least on paper this line up looks good. I would love to see them in September. Memphis can be our Snider in a number 10 role and have Danjuma and Bergwjin on the wings. If we decide to play 4/3/3, we can take Ake out. That is it.

    1. Don’t soil your pants, Jean. This is a predictable line up. Don’t think LVG will be falling of his chair when he sees this. Expect Bijlow instead of Cillesen.

      I won’t embarrass myself with sending this to Louis or engage in petitions.


      90% of what LVG sees or things will never be published. He has the ability like no other to forge a winning team. Trust the geezer.

  12. @ jean_venette

    You seem to miss my point that I was highlighting. With more games only , players like danjuma and Lang and newcomers , will hit the full throttle and build up on their confidence level. Nobody and absolutely no body in the current team including Depay peaked in just few caps when they first hit the ground rolling in NT. You have danjuma in you lineup but he is in the same boat as Lang. You proclamation about Danjuma is simply what I have for lang and including danjuma from Day 1. Both of us are basing our views from contextual pespectictive of what they have shown and can bring to the team. I mean you look at Gakpo, he was rusty as Fcuk, and if you recall at one point he was no 1 contender before getting injured and then was replaced by Danjuma. Was it September/ october last year during the qualifiers. This is the reason why I have predicted 2024-2026 to be big year for NT because by then most of them including those on the horizon would have significantly featured in NT and fully acclimatize as well.

    Then comes the decsion by Van Gaal to switch to 5-3-2 from 4-3-3 when there was no need for it. Again sacrificing a winger which should have been his main focus building the team around and with the quality wingers he has at his disposal. Why take that risk of doing something that is unpredictable ” creating space through formations and analyzing the man vs man situations as they evolve through the game”. Playing poker in other words.

    This is what it is.

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