Or so we hope… It’s only one more week… And then the real stuff comes down. Frank de Boer wanted to be able to play 5-3-2 and seems to be throwing everything he has at it. But will it be enough?
A 3-0 win over Georgia doesn’t mean much.
So De Boer went for another 5-3-2, but with Stekelenburg for Krul and Daley Blind for Mathijs de Ligt who is struggling with a groin issue.
But the coach also tweaked the positions.
Wijnaldum as #10
Against Scotland, Holland played with one holding mid and two more offensive midfielders wider. Against Georgia, we play with two holders and a central #10 or false striker and as the match progressed, Frenkie started to play higher up the pitch whenever he could, so we would have more pressure on their holding mids.
In an attacking sense, Memphis now has more space behind him, to fall back into and pick up the ball. No matter where the coach positions him on the white board, he will always go into the half spaces on the left side of the pitch. Against Scotland, Gravenberch was constantly in his way, now agains Georgia that space is his. In this way, Holland plays with two #10s behind striker Weghorst. At times Blind could find the 10s via a forward pass and threaten the goal. See below.
Wingbacks push up
We saw how Wijndal in particular failed to push up in the first half vs Scotland and how this influenced the first stage of that game. Now, De Boer instructed his wingbacks to take on their counter part, allowing the midfielders to be available and on the front foot for when we repossess the ball. The shape and positioning was way better, see below.
The backs being high up the pitch resulted in our second goal, when an agressive Dumfries marks his man way on the opponent’s side of the pitch. He turns over possession and via Frenkie’e quick feet, Memphis finds Wout Weghorst, who is allowed to score his first Oranje goal and boy, did he enjoy that.
De Roon pushes Dumfries up
This is a more subtle change. And it concerns specific build-up situations, where De Roon drops back next to the right back central defender. See below:
He pushes Dumfries forward which is great, as the PSV skipper is the most threatening attacker for Oranje and gets the penalty shout too. But there are also issues.
De Roon doesn’t add anything in the build up. Timber is a way better footballer and demonstrated this vs Scotland. De Roon delays the build up, more than anything and with him on Dumfries’ duties, Oranje lacks a player in midfield, which can be a problem.
Below a situation where De Roon is missing in midfield and De Vrij and Blind get in trouble.
But despite all these changes, Oranje’s problems remain the same. We have a week to go do deal with the following four problems:
The wrong players have to build up
In an attacking sense, the wrong players are involved in the build up. In Koeman’s 4-2-3-1, the buildup happened from the back, centrally, with Blind as left back and Virgil and De Ligt centrally with Frenkie close by in midfield. In that set up, Oranje at times played with three at the back, as Frenkie would regularly drop back to assist his colleagues.
This image above shows us how it is resolved today. The space where Frenkie likes to start is now occupied by the left central defender who moves towards the side line and De Roon who drops deep to provide an option. These are not the players who will come up with a swift forward pass.
In top matches for Chelsea, Timo Werner always plays. Not because he scores prolifically, coz he doesn’t, but because he will run in behind all the time. Whenever he goes, he pulls the opponent’s defense with him and opens up space for anything to happen.
We don’t have that player currently. Weghorst works like a horse but is not that type of forward and Memphis wants the ball to feet. Dumfries is currently our player with the deep runs, and he is a full back! When Malen is introduced, this goes more smoothly. The explosive PSV forward can make those runs all day long and create more space for Memphis and Weghorst.
Man marking results in chaos
Georgia creates opportunities in the first half! And more than they themselves had expected. The #91 on the World Ranking seems to play out of trouble with ease, against this Oranje. The cause: holes in the organisation. The Dutch start from a particular zone on the pitch, but quite early on in the game, you can see the pairing happening. And the results are sometimes ugly, see below.
Wijnaldum has to follow his man and ends up playing right bac. De Roon and De Jong are not in the zone protecting our defence which resulted in Timber pushing forward and also being out of position. Shambles!
Playing a team like Georgia which likes to form a square in midfield, it’s quite hard to do man marking, as the Oranje midfielder would be out of position too often and the central defenders would be forced to push up all the time. Georgia didn’t really benefit from this but a stronger opponent surely will.
The distances between players are too big
The core of our defensive woes is the distance between players. In order to defend forward with the defensive line, the distance between forwards and defenders should be no more than 30 meters. Koeman called this vertically compact.
Today, these distances are bigger. The players don’t seem to recognise the situation together, in order to push up (defence) or drop deeper (forwards). The result is: too much space in between the lines and it is very hard to play a pressure game if the space is too big. These are all things that can be remedied at the training ground, but maybe not within one week.
Lastly, it’s important to look in the mirror when judging this team: would we take this result in the Euros group stages? Or in a World Cup qualifier? Would we be distraught with the lack of quality or just enjoy the three points and hope our better form is right around the corner?
But if it’s a friendly warm up match for the Euros, we tend to look at it all with a magnifying glass.
It’s important to remind yourself that:
- In 1974, most Dutch fans wondered why we were going to the World Cup. We wouldn’t stand a chance, as Keizer and Swart were getting too old and all our central defenders (Israel, Hulshoff, Mansfeld, Drost, Laseroms) were injured and we had to rely on a midfielder and a rookie in central defence.
- In 1978 expectations were dreadful as JC and Willem van Hanegem weren’t coming
- In 1988, Michels couldn’t find the winning recipe until after losing the first group match
- In 2010, the pre-World Cup campaign was also quite disappointing and our defence was considered way to weak
- In 2014, the whole nation wondered what on Earth Van Gaal was going to do with this team
I do share a lot of the criticism that has been voiced on the blog. I also think Wijndal and Dumfries do not have the quality level this team needs, in particular moving forward and with their final pass.
I also think Malen should start over Weghorst.
I really don’t think De Roon should be starting. I would play Gravenberch for him.
Stekelenburg would be my #1 goalie.