In 1984, we missed the Euro’84 in France. Only 8 nations could make it and we had to allow Spain, who won 12-1 against Malta. It’s 2015 and again, Holland will miss a Euro tournament in France, but this time 24 nations were able to qualify. Albania did. So did Northern Ireland. Wales…Iceland… But not the Dutch.
It only emphasises the the issues we have. On all levels. Whether it is youth teams, or club teams, or individual players… The signature Dutch School is a joke. Germany and Spain stole our mojo and we struggle to beat the Czechs, Iceland and Turkey at home.
Ony 15 months ago, we beat Spain and Brazil at the World Cup. Today, we can’t win against the Czechs who were one man down….
The Czech game summed up the Dutch situation. Starting well, focused, heads up and with pace. Trying to use the space smartly. Good passing by Depay and Wijnaldum and after 48 seconds Anwar El Ghazi has the 1-0 on his right foot. He had 3 options: taking a touch, checking what Cech would do or passing it square to Hunter or Wijnaldum or…taking it in one hit and go for gold. He picked the third and worst option. And went straight to Petr Czech. Not much later, El Ghazi with a cross, it goes beyond all defenders and forwards but Sneijder gets a free shot on goal. He can take a touch and place it in the corner, or he can put his laces through it like he did against Mexico. But he decides to side foot it in the top corner. And shoots high over the goal.
The first 15 minutes, Oranje impressed. We saw this before, in particular in the Euro 2012 games vs Denmark, Germany and Portugal. Strong starts. But no killers in the box and making sloppy mistakes, inviting the opponent into the game. Crap forward pressing and Riedewald, Depay and Van Dijk are outplayed. The Czech goal scorer does exactly what El Ghazi forgot: take a touch, head up, placing it past the goalie: 0-1.
The second goal came to soon. A throw in by the Czechs. Static situation. Tete is too soft, everyone is ball watching and Van Dijk defends like a girl in the box. Another goal, in the near corner. Jeroen Zoet not looking good, again!
Blind brings Van Persie, the saviour everyone hopes. Riedewald makes way and not long after the Czechs are shown a red card. The fans believe in it again, and a quick goal would get Oranje back into the game. With RVP chances do come and Memphis and Sneijder in particular seem to get more grip. Not strange, as Sneijder drops back with Daley Blind on left back duties and Depay not being crowded out by Sneijder.
In the second half, the game starts to get sloppy and the Czechs are gifted a freak goal. Robin van Persie, brought on to score goals, does exactly that. But in his own goal. What was he thinking….
Blind brings Dost for Van Dijk, who started well but played worse and worse as the game went on. The long hauls against the Czechs didn’t work too well. It was too hasty, too opportunistic. The Czech dedenders saw the balls coming and Huntelaar in particular could not get anything to go his way.
When you are one man up, it is better to use the space and time to find the free man. If you have players like Memphis, Sneijder, Van Persie and El Ghazi you should be able to pass the ball swiftly from foot to foot to find the free man and create the man more situation… Oranje did get opportunities though and Huntelaar got his goal, as did RVP but it was too little too late. When it was also the Turks scoring the only goal in their game instead of the Icelanders, it was crystal clear. No Euros for Holland.
And looking back at this game, it was fair to say that Holland might have had the better players (on paper) but the Czechs had the better team. When in possession, Holland looks alright. Whitout the ball, it was horrendous. Panicky defending, lousy marking, no forward pressing and holes so big, you could park Van Gaal’s ego in there. I remember a situation where right midfielder Wijnaldum was the last man in defence in the left side of the box! Van Dijk and Bruma were totally played out of position (again) and it needed a superhuman effort by a midfielder to clear. There was no leadership at the back and every time the Czechs (10 men by then) moved forward they looked dangerous.
A win was definitely on the cards. If El Ghazi and Sneijder took their chances we could have led by 2-0 in 15 minutes. I think the Czechs would have given us the game. No way they would have battled themselves into the game by then. But sadly, even that would not have been enough as Turkey didn’t surrender vs Iceland and did themselves a huge favour by qualifying directly for the Euros.
Guys, I’m a bit deflated and will leave it at this for now.
In a few days, I will do a proper “And now what?” post with some thorough analysis and a look towards the future.
For now, I will have a Heineken and a soft cry in the corner….
And watching the rugby. With a little video message for Memphis, Virgil, Bruno, Kenny, Robin, Anwar and the rest….