Tag: Euro2024

Oranje bounces back strongly

The mood in the Oranje camp was not that bad, apparently. The mood amongst the Dutch media, analists, pundits and fans was. The abysmal performance against Austria stung, and it stung hard! Of course, Joey Veerman was the pantomime villain and some journalists even went as far to say Veerman would never wear the orange jersey again!

Koeman kept it cool, protected his players and vowed to work hard to regain the sympathy of the fans. Gakpo said it well in a presser: “We let the nation down”.

Romania was – on paper – a welcome opponent to play away the hungover. But a lot of people were skeptical and feared the worst. What would have happened if Romania would have ousted Oranje? The end of Koeman of course and two more years of chagrin and negativity. An a big strike through the dreams of oldies like Van Dijk, Wijnaldum and Blind.

But Koeman and Co have done their homework and the players straightened their backs. Romania didn’t play as defensively as shared in an earlier blog post. They tried to emulate what Austria did but Oranje kept their cool and allowed the Romanians to huff and puff. And then Gakpo was found: 1-0.

The Liverpool winger is becoming more and more the man of the moment for Oranje. He almost had four goals, but that second one for him in the match was chalked off for offside.

Koeman surprised with Bergwijn in de line up, but it’s clear in hindsight why he picked him. A master stroke, really. The reason is: the box in midfield. Koeman wants four midfielders to form a square and as Romania only had one holding mid anchoring their midfield, this meant he was constantly needing to decide who to go with. The result was usually that Dumfries ended up as right winger, as Bergwijn joined Xavi in midfield as a second 10. And boy did it work.

If we would have been a tad more aggressive on the right flank, Dumfries and Bergwijn could have had several runs through on goal, but tardiness allowed the Romanians last ditch tackles. These resulted in corners galore but as we all know, it’s not easy to score from a corner kick. Only 4% of all corners which are hit in to the box results in a direct goal. Van Dijk would be close though, with a header on the post.

This is how the first goal came to be and it demonstrates why Bergwijn was used as he was.

Bergwijn and Simons crowding out the holding mid. Simons looks for the right back who decides to mark the RB Leipzig man, giving Gakpo the space on the left (and Dumfries on the right). Romania was constantly struggling with this approach and for this reason Bergwijn was in the team, allowing Dumfries (and Gakpo) to shine on the wings.

The only criticism you can have on this Oranje team is, that it took way too long for the second goal to be scored. We had so many chances: Memphis, Reijnders, Simons, Dumfries, Gakpo, we could have scored 4 goals before half time. Despite this, we never really got in trouble and we ended up scoring a special second goal, when tightrope walking Gakpo dribbled on the byline and allowed Malen a tap in.

The former Arsenal youth product scored his second in the extra time, after a Romania corner kick and a great run and pass by one of the best on the day, Xavi Simons.

This line up worked well. Reijnders and Schouten were imperial in midfield. Their statistics are amazing.

Xavi was top in the pockets and a constant threat. Gakpo, well, what can you say. A threat, direct to goal, great skills and potentially the topscorer of the tournament. Dumfries and De Vrij played ever so well while the ever reliable Ake played how he has been playing for years now. Unassuming perfection.

I’m not saying this line up should from now on be The Line Up. Our squad is strong and we can mix it up in relation to form, fitness and opponent. We still have the likes of Brobbey, Frimpong, Zirkzee and Van der Van waiting in the wings.

Koeman also allowed Veerman another turn as a sub, and the maligned midfielder almost scored! Not using Veerman anymore means you could probably best send him home. Class from Koeman to pick him up and use him as he does have special skills.

Turkey is next up, on Saturday, and Orkun Kokcu (ex Feyenoord) will be suspended for the match.

We’ll do a deep dive into Turkey later in the week.

Rest me to thank the ones who so graciously and generously helped me out with a nice donation. This is really appreciated guys, you know who you are!

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