Never thought I’d write that sentence… But… Holland needed a win. Blind needed a win! The Dutch media claimed Danny might lose his job after another defeat. Not that I believed this….
But after an abysmal series, we did it. We won. And it was good to see Arjen Robben back on the pitch.
I started this post hours ago and my computer crashed. I usually write my best posts off the cuff so you might miss some wisecracks I won’t be able to repeat….
Note to self: save posts regularly….
Danny Blind decided to go back to 5-3-2. Something Hiddink should never have abandoned. His son Daley organised the defense and played a sturdy solid game at the back. Wonderful in his cut outs and always composed on the ball. Van Dijk played in the center, Bruma too the right. Janmaat got his spot back and celebrated it with an assist. Kongolo played on the left and was clearly less confident on the ball but did have some good passages of play, including the first real cross for striker Dost to attack.
It was a 3-4-3 more than 5-3-2 as Wales sat deep and played how they were able to get their Euros ticket. They missed Ramsey and Bale of course and have a horrible record against Holland, never winning a game ever. Also, Oranje never lost on Brittish soil so Coleman’s team was happy for Oranje to make the play.
We started slow. Partly due to the bad conditions. The pitch looked like a Dutch cow paddock and was s l o w .
Our first real good one touch passage of play got us our first goal, thanks to a wide Janmaat run and a solid cross, allowing Dost his first senior Oranje goal: 1-0. The first change we created as after 15 minutes when the left wing back Kongolo found the Wolfsburg striker for his first attempt at goal.
It looked like we would control the game but Wales did find a way back, in a fortunate way. A late corner in the dying seconds of the first half and a shot blocked by Kongolo in the box with his hands. He did block the shot, but it would have hit his head otherwise and I found the penalty a bit harsh and the yellow card a bit ridiculous.
Cillesen is known to not be a penalty killer. He even got ridiculed in Holland for celebrating extensively recently when a penalty was hit on the post. As close as he’ll ever get to stop a spot kick, the media laughed. But he did stop this one, only to be let down by his defenders. The upcoming Wales player scored the rebound and we had start all over again in the second half.
Blind’s tactics worked against Wales, although it was the crucial contribution of Sneijder and Robben in particular what won us the game. Promes had promising runs and shows intelligence in his movement. Clasie played solid but at times was caught out. Kongolo and Janmaat were not as effective as they could have been and Dost doesn’t have the Van Persie touch. But all in all, it wasn’t that bad.
In the second half, Robben demonstrated that he can change and win games by himself. He should have scored 4 but ended up with a brace. A typical Robben move from the right coming inside finding time and space for the left foot curler… Everyone knows what he’ll do. That he’ll do it and still there is no stopping him. His movement was quite good, drifting like Cruyff in his best days, with Clasie and Sneijder always having their heads up to find him.
We did concede a second goal and again from a set piece. The team switched off when Wales took their corner quickly and short, no one picked up the players moving in and some Oranje players even had their backs to the ball. A fine header meant 2-2.
It was obvious that one more chance would finish Wales off though and a fine Dost pass into space found Robben, allowing him his 30st goal and allowing Oranje the win.
I think we – and Danny Blind – can be happy with the performance. Defensively, apart from the two set pieces, we looked alright. Bruma has his wild moments, but Van Dijk and Blind did well. I particularly liked Joel Veltman in the second half, coming on for the injured Van Dijk. The Saint got a knee problem and is out for Germany, but the Ajax man – hailed for his build up qualities – demonstrated he can be tough as a defender as well. He had numerous break ups and went in like a man.
Kongolo needs more confidence but the youngster will come good. Janmaat played well and had his assist, offering more runs and crosses in the second half. Clasie was a bit subdued and doesn’t look 100% fit to me. But he did ok. Dost had an assist and a goal so we can’t complain about him. All in all, better stuff from Holland. For what it is worth.
I think we have the ideal players for a 5-3-2. Against tough opponents, we can play counter attacking football, from a tight defensive organisation, using the speed of our forwards and the intelligent passing from the likes of Sneijder, Clasie and Blind.
In games like these, we can switch to 3-4-3 or any other version ( 3-3-4) in a jiffy with the likes of Willems, Kongolo, Riedewald on the left flank and Janmaat, Tete, van der Wiel on the right. A fit Van Persie could be replacing Dost and with Bazoer, Wijnaldum, Klaassen in midfield we have legs, duelling power and football intelligence in midfield.
We are ok for goalies and as long as Sneijder and Robben can play like this we have a good chance of returning to the top of world football in 2 to 4 years.
Danny Blind was happy with the team performance: “I think we showed grit, we showed creativity and patience. I am very upset about the two conceded goals though. We shifted to 5-3-2 to stop the onslaught of goals, but switched off twice to allow Wales back into it after set pieces. That has to stop.”
Ajax midfielder Bazoer made his debut for Oranje late in the game, replacing Jordy Clasie but he won’t be traveling to Germany with team as he has a slight hamstring scare.
Arjen Robben was delighted to be of importance. The former Groningen winger said repeatedly that he wants to follow Ryan Giggs in his footsteps and play as long as possible, focusing on nutrition and yoga to keep his body fit. “I am happy to have had an impact, although I should have scored four tonight. But yes, Giggs got a different role in the autumn of his career, playing more from midfield. I like to think that my experience and vision will help me do that to when I need to. But the tests at Bayern Munich show I still am as explosive and quick as two years ago, and that gives me great confidence. I want to play another World Cup.” Asked about his Bayern colleague Philip Lahm, who recently retired from international duties. “Lahm has won everything. He won the World Cup in 2014 so that makes a difference. Once I win the World Cup in 2018, I might retire as well, hahahaha. But anyway, I’m happy with this game, at times we played really well.”
Bas Dost is over the moon. “I am really happy, I have to pinch myself. I have players like Van Persie and Huntelaar usually in front of me and for me to finally start a game was a dream come true. When Janmaat whipped that ball in, I knew I had to score. That was my ball. I am so happy.”
Wesley Sneijder was quick to say that this system should be used from now on. “We are not good enough for 4-3-3. We conceded too many goals. You cannot qualify if you concede 23 in 10 games, or whatever it was. It is simple. When Danny asked us (Robben and Sneijder) about the change of system we both said yes… We need to. And like this, we can get ourselves out of the rut really quickly I think.”
Asked if the 5-3-2 would have resulted in qualifications for the Euros: “I am not sure. It’s too easy to say this now. We missed a fit Arjen Robben and a fit Robin van Persie. We have great young talents coming through but these two are world class players. Without them it is hard. Take C Ronaldo out of Portugal or Zlatan out of Sweden and you have different teams. We are not a Germany or Spain with heaps of top class players and this series we were vulnerable. Most of our goals conceded were not the result of 4 or 5 at the back, but has to do more with sharpness, with focus. The two goals we conceded here as well. You can four Robbens and we’d still have conceded them. It is never just one thing….”
Cillesen: “Stopping the penalty was good but still conceding put a wet blanket on it. But I am not too concerned you know. The media made it into a thing. I never did. You stop a penalty, sometimes it’s just luck. I did well to punch it but I wanted the ball to go more to the side. Let’s hope next time it all goes well.”
Blind: “It is a bit ironic. We have tremendous length in our squad now, with Virgil and Dost. Usually, we have the likes of Vlaar, Van Persie. We should not concede header goals. This sharpness, or lack thereof, needs to be ironed out. Against Wales in a friendly you get away with it, but against Germany or even Iceland when it matters, it is not enough. You can see we still need the smarts and vision of the older players too, going forward. Wesley and Arjen were instrumental for us. I wish we could use Arjen against Germany.”
With Robben, Bazoer and Van Dijk out, we will most like see the following line up vs Germany:
Janmaat Bruma Veltman Blind Pieters
Wijnaldum Clasie Sneijder