We’ve seen it before here, with National Team coaches taking advice from us Oranje experts. The call for Weghorst, the confusion around Babel and Strootman, the omissions of Karsdorp, Frank has taken the hints and acted on it.
When De Boer took over from Koeman (actually, from Lodeweges) he didn’t have much time to play around with the squad. He only had half a day to prep for his first game and understandably, he stuck with Koeman’s choices.
It was always clear that he would pick his own squad ahead of the Euros, with time on his hand to analyse the larger list of players (Danjuma, Lang, Gakpo, Stengs, Karsdorp) and to develop a game plan.
The latter, we’l’l have to wait and see. We will slowly see his ideas emerge in the coming weeks. The prelim squad tells us a good story, though.
He dropped Babel and Strootman, while previously singing their praises as “important lads for the dressing room”. It doesn’t feel like a glorious compliment a player wants to hear. “We’re taking Toornstra to the Euros as well, because of the way he carries the practice balls. And we have picked Vilhena due to his amazing musical selections for before the game.”
No, when the sharp ends comes closer, you pick the players who can win you the trophy.
For me, the squad is logical. I don’t see any player that makes me cringe. But I would have liked to have seen Noa Lang and Danjuma in the squad. At the same time, you can “only” bring 26 players so a number of pre-lim players will be dropped.
Add the fact that Jong Oranje also has a serious tournament this summer and Van der Looij will require some of this stars to play for him.
If there is one surprise, it is the absence of Calvin Stengs. The one-time super talent of AZ is not in the prelim squad and the surprise is less to do with his amazing skills and performances of late (there weren’t any) but because he is Frank de Boer’s son-in-law and the coach has risked a family feud by not selecting the AZ winger. His coach, Pascal Jansen: “I can fully understand De Boer’s decision. I’m a Calvin fan, and he is special. But you do need to show that on the pitch, and he hasn’t this season. He needs to make a step up and show the coach he cannot ignore him. For now, Jong Oranje is more his level.”
Virgil van Dijk confirmed what most of us knew and actually hoped for: the Euros are too early for him. The risk for him to play anyway was such, that he could have completely destroyed his career at Liverpool and Oranje and the World Cup next year. We’ll have to do this without him.
Daley Blind, on the other hand, does seem to be on schedule to return. A good thing with Daley: he never had to need games to return to his full form after injury. He’s one of those players that will be able to pick up where he left off.
The introduction of Jurrien Timber was hoped for. The Ajax centre back impresses weekly. He’s strong on the ball, lightning fast, he plays with courage and he head up and defensively focused, not unlike that other young (former) Ajax talent, Mathijs de Ligt. Timber can also Cody Gakpo also makes his entrance. Frank simply couldn’t ignore him, after his return from injury. A big plus for Gakpo: he can play left winger but he can also fill in the 10 role in a different way then Klaassen or Van de Beek.
And then there is the return of Karsdorp – finally – and Anwar El Ghazi. The latter was a super talent in Ajax’ youth – compared to none other than CR7 – and has been playing regular football for Villa, scoring goals (8 this season) and being important. He used to be a tad lazy and complacent but life in the EPL and being coached by John Terry will have had this trait removed…
Rick Karsdorp is Roma’s wingback on the left and starts most games in the Serie A and in the Europa League. He has 6 assists and 1 goal in 32 matches and galops along the right flank like he used to do before his injuries. Yes, Dumfries, Hateboer, Veltman, Tete and St Juste are also part of the prelim squad but if De Boer wants a 4-3-3 line up and a 3-4-3 line up, it pays to include Karsdorp. Tete is not a regular in Fulham and wasn’t able to keep the Cottagers in the EPL, whereas Karsdorp reached the semi finals of the EL. I think Hateboer won’t be match fit after his injury woes and Veltman will probably go to the Euros as utility player (left back, centre back, right back).
Lastly, Weghorst. Of course he will come to the Euros. The additional 3 players De Boer is allowed to bring will mean he simply cannot ignore the Wolfsburg striker.
Arjen Robben is not part of the list. Whoever came up with that joke had a lot of fun. I think Robben mentioned it as a pun after his first game in many months (2 assists) and the media and pundits took it seriously. He would be an amazing assistant coach though, but as a player? Ridiculous!
What is next?
On May 24, De Boer starts his first practice camp, with the full squad. Wednesday May 26, De Boer will announce the final 26 man squad. On Saturday May 29, the squad will fly to Portugal for their prep. On June 2, the first friendly vs Scotland is planned and on June 6 Georgia will be the opponent in the Twente Stadium in Enschede. The Euros will start on Sunday June 13, with the home game vs Ukraine, with Austria on June 17 and North Macedonia on June 21. All games played in the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.
I will now re-jig the selection I think Frank will go with (with the know-how of the prelim squad).
Cillesen, Krul, Stekelenburg
Dumfries, Karsdorp, Veltman, De Vrij, De Ligt, Blind, Wijndal, Ake
Frenkie de Jong, Gini Wijnaldum, Davy Klaassen, Donny van de Beek, Marten de Roon, Ryan Gravenberch, Teun Koopmeiners
Malen, Memphis, Luuk de Jong, Wout Weghorst, Berghuis, Bergwijn, Cody Gakpo, Promes
I doubt only the last name. Quincy Promes was part of Oranje for years now and I think that will be the difference between him and El Ghazi. De Boer might decide against Promes should he feel the ex Ajax man is too much of a distraction with his off pitch antics and pending court case.