It’s 24 hours after the Germany game. The Day After.
We are not yet out of the competition. It’s a simple calculation. If Germany wins against Denmark and Holland beats Portugal with two goals difference, Oranje is through!
So, let’s first analyse the Germany game.
What happened exactly?
We needed a win. Germany would have been happy with a 0-0. So Holland starts with some intent. Indeed, the first 20 minutes were fine. Not great, but we did create opportunities. Robin van Persie on a good long Van Bommel pass, Van Persie with another opportunity and Afellay with a cross to Van Persie which he basically squandered by playing it behind Van Persie.
The pace was good, the passing was ok, but when Germany had one opportunity, they scored. 0-1.
And fear entered into the frame. The defence stayed back. The midfielders drowned, the wingers didn’t get a good ball and Van Persie was on an island.
And when Germany had another option of slicing through our defence (another Schweinsteiger pass for Gomez) it was 0-2. And Oranje was chasing the game.
In the second half, Huntelaar and Van der Vaart came on and late in the game Dirk Kuyt came on for Robben. One great one-touch attack and Robin van Persie was able to score the consolation goal. Sneijder had an opportunity to score the equaliser but Boateng risked his ribs blocking this attempt.
Let’s look at what went wrong:
Our 4-2-3-1 doesn’t work if it’s not executed well. Our defence kept on tracking back while our forwards wanted to push forward. Space between the lines was huge and our holding midfielders drowned in that space. Our full backs didn’t do anything on the overlap. While our wingers lacked the form (Afellay!!) to make a dent.
Stekelenburg actually had a couple of good saves. The Ozil ball on the post. The Badstuber header. The weird high ball falling almost under the bar. But he didn’t look too good with the second Gomez goal. The angle was astute. And for some reason, Stekel decided to go to ground before Gomez even hit the ball… Why?? If Stekelenburg would have stayed on his feet, he could have simply caught the ball.
Our defence is atrocious. Willems is a very young, inexperienced left back. Who did ok. He made mistakes, but that was to be expected. Where was the support for the young Sparta prospect? Heitinga and Mathijsen were both guilty for allowing Gomez all the space to score two goals and didn’t have the balls to pressure forward. Van der Wiel, like against the Danes, was invisible. Didn’t add any value to the game.
Both Van Bommel and De Jong seemed dinosaours. Too much space for them to cover, not enough balls or dynamics to push forward and play tightly within the team. Both Bommel and De Jong did not offer any added value and with defence were the “six players tracking back” while the forwards were focused on attacking.
The four forwards were again focused on attacking and scoring goals. But Robben and Afellay did not have the form while Sneijder had problems making his mark in the first half. He played a better game in the second half when Afellay made way for Huntelaar and Sneijder had more space on the left wing. Van Persie had a number of chances again, but he failed to convert them, while the Germans did.
Too many players lack the form needed to win gold. Robben, Afellay, Van der Vaart, Huntelaar, van Bommel and De Jong and the whole defence seemed to be seriously under par.
It’s hard to say, watching a game, what the status is of the physical condition of the players, but it does seem like the energy oozes out of our players a bit quicker than with other teams. It could be result of being deflated due to the results… It could also simply be the result of the pitch being too long for our players to cover. But both Morten Olsen and Joachim Low stated that Holland didnt look fit. And of course this Raymond Verheijen character is yelling this in tweets as well. But then again, if you have 5 players in your line up that are not 100% fit (Willems, Van der Wiel, Mathijsen, Van Bommel, Afellay) is it possible to play this high energy game??
In a way, the mentality seems to be fine. Players like Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder, Huntelaar and co play top football for years already and are used to pressure and playing big games week in week out. Jetro Willems also doesn’t seem to be fussed playing with the big names, on the big stage, against big opponents. One thing that does puzzle me, is the fact that we have players who said a number of times already “we don’t have the form now, but once the tournament starts we will flick the switch and be ready”…. I don’t think that actually works like that.
The Dutch total football school is based on dynamics. JC everywhere on the pitch. Van Hanegem placing the ball anywhere. Krol being left winger. Rep center forward. Haan playmaker and Neeskens running from box to box. Etc etc. This worked with Gullit and Vanenburg and Muhren. And Erwin Koeman ran from box to box. And with Cocu, Bergkamp and Davids ran from box to box. But where are our dynamic players and patterns? Robben and Afellay? Predictable. Van der Wiel and Willems? Limited overlaps. Two central backs. NEVER pushing forward. Holding mids? Static. Just like Sneijder… Lots of dynamics in his passing, but doesn’t pull his weight in yards covered like Iniesta/Silva/Ozil/Modric… In my view, we lack penetration. Who runs from box to box? How many times did we see a potential cross (ok, they were mostly shite) but only Van Persie in the box? Maybe time for Strootman!
Gomez only needs 4 chances to score 3 goals. Van Persie, Robben and even Sneijder seem to be overzealous or maybe lacking sharpness… amongst ourselves, we might have had 15 good opportunities? Only 1 converted. And with his right! Is it lack of sharpness or too much will, too much eagerness… Did you see Arjen Robben’s face and grimace when singing the national anthem? Was he impersonating Jack Nicholson as the joker (Heath Ledger for younger generations) or does he simply want to it too badly?
The Run Up to this Euro Tournament
Before we started the WorldCup 2010, most of our players came out successful seasons. This time around, Sneijder has had his problems, Afellay hasn’t seen a ball, Van der Wiel was injured, Mathijsen was injured, Robben had some dramas to process and Huntelaar now has to accept that he’s not a starter.
Everytime Oranje played a good tournament, the next tournament was played crap. In 1974, we were vice world champs, in 1976 we made a mess of it. In 1978 we were vice world champs, in 1980 we were sent home after the group. In 1988 we won the Euros and in 1990 we ended in shame. And now we are the vice world champs, so this tournament might be the next drama…
Looking at Germany, one sometimes wonders what kind of squad Holland could have if our country was bigger. If we has 30 Mio in stead of 15 Mio people. I’m not saying “Let’s invade Belgium”… But if there ever was a reason to do this, this is the one!! Add Vertonghen (left back), Vermaelen (CB) and Kompany (CB) and we’re laughing all the way to shake Platini’s hand. If we need to rely on an 18 year old lad who played Emmen and Helmond Sport last year….well….
So, summing all the above up… Our coach is obviously responsible for this all. For team selection, for fitness, for tactics, for team motivation, etc (not for history, ok….).
He might be a great guy for a focused campaign when all the players are on a high and fit (2010) but maybe the wrong guy for a campaign where we need more tactical flexibility, more balls and more empathy. Who will tell him? I am guessing that we will….
Let’s create some solutions for the Portugal game!