Tag: Benzema

Danjuma: one of the big guns now

A question….

I just got sent an amazing e-book on Cruyff (his death was remembered) and these stories are very cool.

I can do two things: 1) put a JC article on the blog every now and then but focus on current affairs or 2) focus on the JC articles and let the current affairs take a step back.

Any suggestions?

After this post on Danjuma, I will cover the Cup Final between Ajax and PSV.

Last year in June, Arnaut Danjuma was the guest in a tv sports show. He made a strong impression: ambitious, self critical and… outspoken. He questioned the KNVB. Did they pay attention to him? At all? Was he being following, playing for Bournemouth? What was the reason he was ignored? Could the NT manager maybe tell him what he needed to improve in order to get the call up?

There was no end to his confidence.

And not everyone could handle this swagger. Why is he playing for Bournemouth, if he is that good? Surely, we can’t take clubs like Luton Town or Bristol City or Millwall seriously? Danjuma felt invisible to the world and realised he had to make a move.

He consciously decided to go for Villareal and Unai Emery. He needed a coach who would focus on the details. Who would work on improving players tactically. He needed a “small club” with big ambitions. He used the services of one of those sports  analytics companies and came out at the Yellow Submarine for his future. So he said no to several other courters ( EPL clubs, Ligue 1 clubs, Bundesliga, PSV Eindhoven) and went to Spain. Under the radar.

By now, he’s shone at Old Trafford against Man U, he was top in the Wanda Metropolitano (v Atletico),  in the Bernabeu and the Juve Stadium. He is now a recognised European top player. Julian Nagelsmann used Danjuma as an example to explain that Bayern would not just beat Villareal.

This new status is completely the result of …himself. He took his career in his own hands (with his dad) and decided to invest in his development. He could have made way more money elsewhere. He now has a team that makes him better and he is in a team that he makes better as well. With a coach that will invest in him. Danjuma purs whenever Emery goes into detail tactically for the European opponents. After the 1-0 win over Bayern, Arnaut again explained the importance of Emery’s input.

He is the prime example of a smart player who keeps his eyes open and who invests in himself. Being able to be good with the ball doesn’t make you a good football player. At Villareal, Danjuma learns to understand and read the game and to think positionally. What do you do without the ball (which is 95% of the game for most). Arriving in the box in time, for instance. This is not talent, or touch or physical condition. This is about awareness, intelligence and “feel”.

In the run up to the Bayern clash, he said in an interview that he considers himself one of the best wingers in Europe. A big statement and without the context, a bit bigheaded? But he said more, way more, but the media ignored those other comments. For some, it’s a big much: he played Championship football until last year, he does not have a starting spot in the NT, he scored one Eredivisie goal in his career and never won a big trophy as a player.

Lets look at the wingers/forwards inthe TOp 5 competitions (EPL, La Liga, Bundesliga, Seria A, Ligue 1) and see which were involved in goals.

We won’t consider free kicks or penalty kicksl to make the comparison fair. Only goals from open play, in other words. Only 15 wingers were involved with 4 attemptos on goal or more, in 90 minutes of football.

The first column is the name of the player (duh!), the column “schoten” = “shots on goal” and the “Kansen gecreeerd” is “chances created”. Totaal is… well… I think you can find out for yourself :-).

The list will not surprise many people. You’d say “Salah, Sane, Messi, Gnabry, Insigne, Saka, Vinicius, Grealish, Mane” without hesitation. The PSG lads won’t surprise either. The two surprises are at the bottom of the list, with 4 “involvements” per match. Sheraldo Becker (yes!) at Union Berlin has been a surprise package in the Bundesliga and of course Arnaut Danjuma Groeneveld.

The only criticism: he does play as a central striker now as well in Emery’s fluid set ups. This is in fact in reality less the case. Like Memphis, Danjuma will prefer to come from the left with Moreno – a real striker – next to him. When Villareal has the ball, Danjuma plays more than a winger than someone like Salah.

He may be able to create more for others, but in terms of scoring, no one needs to doubt him. Only Benzema and new comer Aubameyang collect better stats.

This is not a player who is “hot” for a bit, this is a player who keeps on improving and has his eyes firmly on the statistics. It means that he’ll probably be scoring more goals next season.

There is one aspect in which Danjuma indeed is top class. He makes it into the top 5 of Europe: shots on goal after a successful dribble. You’d expect Messi to be on the list of course, but this is the current top 5.

Danjuma proves week in week out that in terms of positioning without the ball as in terms of individual dribbles and creating chances, he indeed is now amongst attacking royalty in Europe.

Would you use Danjuma as a starter?

Tell me your favority top 3 in LvG’s 3-4-1-2 system.


Note: I do rate Gakpo and Lang as potential #10s and I have hope Schreuder will get Ihattaren back to full fitness.



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Lots of work for Van Gaal… 100 days and counting…

I predicted a 1-3 win for Oranje over France. Well… I wasn’t too far off…. Couple of little mistakes. Only 2 goals vs the 4 goals I predicted which is a 50% difference, but for a friendly that is not bad. I said Oranje would win, well…we almost did. If they would have played with 4 debutants and would have less luck and the wind was stronger and if we would have had Gullit and Van Basten and Wouters…. I mean… It’s a friendly. Who cares. And no one likes the French anyway. And Van der Wiel was getting confused as he played against his team mates. Van Persie was still ill and you know….

But seriously….

A friendly doesn’t tell you that much (you know how I feel about friendlies) but at the same time… I think we can all conclude that the Eredivisie players (incl. Schaars and Clasie) do struggle at this higher level. At the World Cup, the worst opponent we will get is Australia and all these lads will snap at everything that moves. There is no time to ponder when in possession like in the Eredivisie.


“This doesn’t happen to me when I play against NEC??”


France was better. Full stop. More mature. More in control. We played ok in the first 25 minutes. But our wingers struggled. Our midfield struggled. Our defence struggled. And our goalie didn’t look too good. The only player who can look back at a faultless game was Arjen Robben.

The first goal of Benzema was stoppable, Jesper Cillesen. The second goal was scored after a series of positional mistakes in midfield and defence.

Our midfield leader Sneijder couldn’t take the team by the hand as he did so often in the past and he drowned in the mud with the rest of them. He tried. But he failed. And our leader of the line Robin van Persie could not be reached. The final ball was failing miserably.

All in all….not.good.enough.

Which sort of raises a question. To Mr Van Gaal.

Why are Urby Emanuelson, Virgil van Dijk, Nigel de Jong, Erik Pieters, Vernon Anita and Bacuna not being tested?

We all know what Nigel can bring. And Pieters, Anita, Bacuna and Van Dijk might not appear to be world class players, but they do play at a higher level and faster pace than the Dutchies.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Clasie and Rekik and I think Boetius and Promes have a lot of…promise… But they need to step up first. Let Clasie perform with Swansea or Sevilla for a bit. Let Boetius play a couple of good seasons for Feyenoord first.

I do hope Van Gaal will learn his lesson from this game and realise that at World Cup level, talent alone is not enough.

vlaar france

“This happens all the time to me when I play in the EPL”


We need men. Who can perform under pressure. Defenders who can defend a faultless game. They don’t need all be educated by Ajax in build up or in long passes. They need to simply stop the other guys from scoring.

And we need midfielders who can read the game, who can work for 90 minutes at high level and who can add value when the moment is there. Think Ramirez, Schweinsteiger, think Javi Martinez, think Cabaye. And we need a goalie who clashes heads with top strikers every week. And who knows what it means to be under pressure. Cillesen hardly experiences pressure in the Eredivisie. Krul on the other hand, and Vorm, play against the likes of Giroud, Rooney and Dzeko every week. EVERY WEEK!

Van Persie didn’t wanna make a big deal out of it. “We did well, the first 25 minutes. But their goal broke us a bit. We were not able to create anything. Our final ball was not good enough. It happens you know. I don’t really think it should concern us too much. The youngsters did well. It was tough. France is a pretty strong opponent. I only got one and half opportunity. We were not able to test their goalie. When we are at full strength, we will probably be able to do better.”

RVP france

And they will also qualify for “So You Think You Can Dance?”


Van Gaal was full of praise. “We lost our heads a bit. Tactically, we played well and disciplined for 25 minutes. Their goal made us a bit too anxious. I think Benzema’s goal was stoppable. I think Cillesen was a bit surprised by the speed of his execution. The players worked really hard.” Asked what he thought of Sneijder’s performance. “Listen, it’s hard if doesn’t get the sort of service he needs. Sneijder can’t do it all alone. He played well in the first 25 minutes and he sort of lost his level with the rest of the team. He worked hard. That is all I can ask for.”

In the meantime: young Oranje was beaten by young Israel. In the friendly, Oranje hardly created a thing. Castaignos scored an early goal which was disallowed for off side. Other than that: no real threat. Israel scored in the second half. Young Oranje is going well in their qualification for the EC in Scotland this summer. They have 10 points out of 4 games.


“Where is my marker???”goal france

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