“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….