I never did believe in angstgegners. It’s all psychological. But I too start to believe that we seem to be Czech Mate a lot against these guys! And sure, a lot of “bad luck” came our way, but seriously… If you really believe you are top of Europe – let alone the World – you can’t have such a collective off-day.
From coach to goalie, from central defender to new Barca signing Memphis. Not.Good.Enough.
And it all looked sooo good! We topped our – weak – group. We seemed to have the system down pat (ish). We found ourselves on the right side of the draw. Many experts in Holland already spoke about the semi finals, as if the Czechs and Danes don’t even compete. And whenever our “experts” get positive, it’s time to be very careful indeed!
As some commenters mentioned, it was all about the semi finals, it was about the terrible political situation in Hungary, who was supposed to team up with Memphis, should De Roon play, etc etc.
But history should have taught us a lesson! The Czechs were resilient in the opening match of the Euro 2000 tournament. Ronald de Boer needed to dive to get a penalty, for his brother Frank to convert.
In 2004, we were on our way to victory, but then Arjen Robben got aggressively and ruthlessly tackled from behind with studs showing by Dick Advocaat.
I’m sure we played them a number of times more, the 2016 Euros qualifications are also still in my head. Janmaat’s backpass to Cillesen in the away game. Was it Van Persie’s own goal in the home game? What the hell do we have on our Bad Karma list re: these people!?!?
But let’s analyse this match isolated from the previous dramas. Because those past games are not an excuse. Even worse, they should have been an extra motivation! I actually was convinced we’d win this, partly also because of those past embarrassments! But no! We step into this big, wet turd yet once again! (not comparing Czechs with turds… Just a figure of speech. Trap. Turd. You get the drill)
What went wrong?
Well, I don’t think the line up De Boer selected is at fault. I don’t think it mattered whether we played Weghorst or Gravenberch. Even more so, I think this is the best line up, I suppose.
The system and tactics are also not at fault. The system didn’t handle the ball. The system didn’t miss that Malen chance.
We started erratic. We fell straight into the trap of the Czechs would would have said “Don’t let them combine. Suck the oxygen out of them!”. And we couldn’t keep the ball. So much wayward passing, bad touches and miscommunication.
And when you want to achieve something at this level, you need your best players to shine. You need a Van Basten ’88, a Bergkamp ’98 or a Robben ’14. If Dumfries and De Vrij are your best players, it’s hard to win games.
Memphis and Wijnaldum were invisible. Even dead balls – no pressure, no challenges – were too hard for Memphis to take. Frenkie de Jong got completely muscled out of the game. Our left wing back Pat van Aanholt did literally everything he did wrong. His touch, his passing, he ran in behind in off side positions, he was simply atrocious.
So without Memphis, De Jong and Wijnaldum firing on all cylinders, we are really mediocre.
And obviously, the Czechs left Van Aanholt as the free man. He was considered the least dangerous. Just like Dumfries was in acres of space, often. But we kept on trying to find the forward pass to Memphis through the middle. I think Frank de Boer should have taken the Palace player off. Bring Ake for Blind and move Blind to the LB position, where we would have a ball player instead of a blind runner. Malen would then take the left wing, as Blind is not a running wingback.
This would have forced the Czechs to make a decision. Now, leaving Van Aanholt open, led to so many ball possession turn around, it’s simply not funny anymore.
It has no use to criticize De Roon. Or Van Aanholt. They are not the lads to give that killer pass or make that run.
The only positives for me were Dumfries and De Vrij. Daley Blind was ok, but you expect more from him. His crosses and passes lacked precision too and he simply is not the leader we need.
But again, it’s players like Memphis – new signing for Barca – and Wijnaldum – new signing at PSG – who should have stepped up and didn’t.
Malen did what he could. As did Dumfries. They worked hard, they were positive, but it was not enough.
In the first half, our final pass was lacking. We could have been 2-0 up at half time, with some better play, but we simply weren’t good enough.
In the second half, Memphis finally had his magic touch: the flick to send Malen into space. The PSV talent should have buried it. He had so many options, and that might have stifled him. He could shoot early. Or go past the goalie, left or right, or chip the goalie. Or wait for Memphis. All these options….
One minute later, and Oranje sees red. A stupid mistake by De Ligt. Just fall on the ball. Odds are, the ref gives us a free kick. But he slapped at the ball and a red card is the logical outcome.
And we lost it completely afterwards. No belief, no leadership and also not the substitutions you’d expect.
I think 4-4-1 would have been best. Dumfries, De Vrij, Blind, Van Aanholt. The latter does have the physical strength to battle Coufal, more than Wijndal.
Use Wijnaldum, De Jong, Memphis and De Roon as midfielder, play compact and use the speed of Malen.
But for some really weird reason, our only fast runner was taken off! An Advocaat decision? And Promes (!!) was brought on??? What was De Boer thinking?
Memphis was not at his mediocre best even. I’d subbed him probably after the 0-1 for Gakpo. Who could have been the Memphis of 2014.
De Boer said he couldn’t play Malen more than 60 minutes. I don’t see why not? He’s a mature lad, strong, plays week in week out for PSV. Why wouldn’t he be able to play a whole match??
And Promes in? Why? What is his added value?
The Dutch analysts (Sneijder, Nigel de Jong, Ruud Gullit, Rafa van der Vaart, Pierre van Hooijdonk) were flabbergasted and claim this sub will also go down in history, like Advocaat’s Robben sub in 2004.
Overall, Memphis, Wijnaldum, Frenkie, Van Aanholt, Stekelenburg and eventually De Ligt all deserve a minus! Frenkie wasn’t bad, but he can play so much better. Today was the day for him to shine and he drowned.
Stekelenburg didn’t look good for that first goal, of course. But couldn’t really help that second one…
De Roon did what De Roon does. No more, no less. Malen, Dumfries, Blind and De Vrij reached a normal level.
Overall, Frank de Boer failed to find a solution for the Czech’s game and failed to make an impression with his substitutions. He might rue the fact he did pick Malen, as he might well have had a mind to play Weghorst as the target man. With Memphis as his running partner, and Malen potentially as a sub for later in the game.
He should have subbed Memphis who was completely ineffective
Either way. We are out. And deservedly so!
I will refrain from claiming De Boer’s head, but we will need to sort this very quickly, as the next World Cup qualifiers will be waiting soon!
Time to retire Stekelenburg and Van Aanholt, as far as I’m concerned and time to mould our ideal World Cup team together…
More analysis with screenshots of situations soon!