Derby of the Low Lands… Never friendly…

The win over Germany resulted in some interesting responses. Ronald Koeman, usually critical and sceptical, was very positive about his lads. He lauded their work rate, their skills, their quality and actually said that he expects great things from this group… The Dutch media approached the result as a Dutch Spring after years of winter. Obviously, the German media focused on the abysmal form of the Germans and wondered if it wasn’t time for Low to step down.

Most international media (French, Spanish, English) concluded that “Holland is back”. Only the media in Belgium decided to have a typical Dutch arrogant approach: “Don’t think you’re back coz you beat the weak Germans! We are better than them!”. The rivalry between Holland and Belgium, it never bores. We are probably considered “the Germans of Belgium” so to speak…

The match up with Belgium is never boring. And it’s never a friendly either. Although the Rijkaard coached NT back in the Euro2000 prep came close to a demonstration game with Belgium, with a 5-5 end result. We had a 9-1 and all sorts of results… But in the serious matches, we also had red cards, razor sharp tackles and excitement galore.

Dutch squad entering the stadium in Brussels

This time around, Belgium is the favorite and Holland the underdog. Belgium is the #1 on the FIFA ranking (Holland is currently #17), with players like De Bruyne, Kompany, Hazard and Lukaku. In 2012, the Red Devils played Holland for the last time and won 4-2. In 15 minutes, Belgium scored 3 times and the southern neighbours played Van Gaal’s eleven drunk. Axel Witsel saw the Dutch game vs Germany, but wouldn’t want to use that as a “key game” in Holland’s reversal of fortune, just like that 4-2 vs Holland wasn’t key for them. “Holland is back, it’s clear, they do have a good group of talented players, but to speak about key games… It’s never one game, it all comes down to all the work done in the years prior. But we are looking forward to this match. It will not be a friendly, I don’t think.” For both nations, a lot is at stake. Belgium wants to keep their spot at #1, while Holland wants to further confirm their way back to the top.

Willem van Hanegem, Holland’s living football legend and oracle: “This match and the development of players like Frenkie de Jong and Steven Bergwijn tells me one very important thing: our youth development is still pretty good. All those years of whining and complaining. There is nothing wrong with what we do. But there is something wrong with how we look and how we observe. Players like Dumfries, Virgil van Dijk and Arnaut Danjuma were ignored by the top 3. Players like Rosario and Bergwijn (and before them: Promes and Elia) were sent away by Ajax. Marten de Roon was sent away by Feyenoord. It is all about recognising talent. That is key. What really irks me, is that 5 months ago, the whole Dutch football world proclaimed that we needed to do what Germany is doing. We needed to borrow their smarts. And now, 5 months later, we beat them and we are on the up and up and Germany is on the way down. All that opportunistic waffling… Scoreboard journalism, we are very good at that. We did not copy what Germany did, and still we are developing talent. I also think Rosario would have made his debut if he wasn’t suspended. It’s all about recognising talent and being careful and cautious with their development.”

Van Hanegem with one player who was recognised early as a top player and one who wasn’t…

Romelu Lukaku is a player at the top of his game. He’s only 25 years old and already the top scorer of the Red Devils. He scored 28 times in his last 26 internationals. Who will stop him? Mathijs de Ligt smiles: “This is a major challenge. He’s tall, strong and fast. I don’t think I ever played against someone like him. I know, I need to be 100% top and I look forward to it. The better the opponent, the better I feel.” De Ligt is already working on it. “I watch Youtube videos to analyse his movements, how and when he takes in a position. Lewadowski and Lacazette are also super strikers. Like Lukaku.”

Ronald Koeman gave De Ligt another compliment, even after his weak start vs Germany. “But that is the point, he started not so great, but he fought back and got back into the game. That is tremendous. Not a lot of 19 year olds can do that.”

Koeman will make some changes and not take too many risks. Captain Van Dijk is back in Liverpool already due to his rib injury and the expectation is that Rosario will make his debut at some stage. He probably would have played vs Germany, but just before the match, Koeman was informed that Rosario’s suspension at Young Oranje level also applied to the senior team. For Belgium, its seems De Bruyne, Vertonghen, Vermaelen and Dembele won’t play and the fitness of Fellaini and Kompany is a question mark.

If Virgil van Dijk is the new leader of Oranje, his Liverpool buddy Wijnaldum seems freed from the shackles in his new role in midfield. In previous outings, with Sneijder on the 10 position, Gini was the first player to get the ball from defense and was responsible for the through ball forward. That is a position where risk is to be completely banned. Wijnaldum was always told to keep the balance, make sure Robben and Sneijder don’t have to do too much work and play sober. Now, with Frenkie de Jong or Daley Blind behind him, Wijnaldum is the forward playing midfielder who receives the second ball in midfield. When he plays in between the lines. And boy, he demonstrated vs France and now vs Germany how well he can play that role. Wijnaldum: “Do I enjoy the compliments now? Yes, but hey.. many times, it wasn’t good. And I think it has to be said if it isn’t good. But at the same time, Strootman and myself became easy targets.” Now, Wijnaldum demonstrated his tremendous powerhouse role late in the game, when Memphis hit the cross bar with a rocket, it was Wijnaldum on the edge of the Germany box picking up the ball. When he lost it, he ran all the way back to his own box, to join in in the defence. When, however, the Germans were pushed back, Wijnaldum ran forward again, to pick up the ball, pass two Germans and hit the ball in the net. That is something not many players can do after 90 minutes of hard work. “Oh no, it hurts. It really does and it costs strength, but that is what I do and will do. This is just one match. We need to do this time and time again. Because we can.”

The final words are for Koeman. He is not surprised that the mood in Holland has lifted tremendously. “That is normal. Our fans have not been spoiled lately so a win like this is landing on fertile ground. But, it is my role to analyse also what didn’t go well. And we have way to go. We are on the right track but we are really back to the top, not when we reach the Euros but when we actually compete for the top spot.”

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  1. Great article!

    This Belgium team is in-form and one of the best at the moment. Playing games against France, Germany, and Belgium is great for the young Oranje players. The experience alone is the most important thing. It also gives the team where it is in comparison to the top teams in international football.

    The game vs Germany was amazing. The result definitely changed the whole mood of the nation. However, they definitely are not functioning as the Germany of 2014. There’s clearly some sort of disconnect between the players and Low’s tactics are not effective as they used to be. As happy as I’m with the result, I feel this Oranje team still has a while to go before it solidifies its weaknesses and gains more experience together as a squad. I’ll say, I’m cautiously optimistic.

    As far as this game vs Belgium, it will be a very tough task. Van Dijk’s injury and absence could be a major factor. Van Dijk has the experience to deal with Lukaku. It will be a massive test for De Ligt. That will be one key battle to watch. I hope Koeman instructs the other defenders and midfielders to help out De Ligt from time to time.

    Anyways, I hope it is another entertaining game with an Oranje win.

          1. Yes of course. Especially VDBeek but that was stray pass of the highest level from the beligan sure he will wanna forget about that one fast.

          2. A big mistake — under pressure — literally running away from Danjuma-Groeneveld — who scored the goal — after fast, elegant touches by four Dutchmen. It was cool. We picked up two goals that way against Germany, and because of that quick counter, we’re in the thick of it. Gotta like that.

  2. The beligan are toying the midfield.De vrij too has had a rough night.this is what I was saying about the high tempo of the game and this where you expect to see the flaws in individual position especially those in defensive.

  3. Nathan Ake is going to be one of our man in the next 4 years . It’s a shame that he is not included in the starting 11

    He is one of those any team would love to have him. He can defend , he can pass and he can score

  4. Looking from the two games it is evident that players are now starting to fight for individual spots and they are out to impress koeman when given any opportunity. Again I was looking at Hateboer when he came on for dumfries. He took all the chances and tried hard not to put any foot wrong. Just like when Ake came on vs Germany. I think they are realing now if you perform you can steal it.

    Ake, Groeneveld, dumfries have nailed it in these two games.

  5. Groenenveld- Depay- Babel/Promes

    Frenkie- be my guest – Wijnaldum

    Ake- van Dijk- De Ligt- Dumfries


    This is the positives of these two internationals.

  6. France and germany was also a entertaining game. France left it late to win 2-1 thanks to Griemann who always goes unnoticed played in the shadows of be honest I understand Lows tatic. He starts klimmich in the Midfield, Gnabary at 9 and werner on the wing. Sane was dangerous all through out and again has have critics talking about Lows relationship with him. Low could be gone if they get relegated.

    1. You have to admit going onwards things will intensfy for and especially competition amongst players.the last thing you wanna see his players getting injured or making those dump move where they wont get to play and end up rotting on the sure alot of scouts must have been out and about and given the players performed admirably well some teams will take note and willtempt to sign them.I think in the best intrest, everybody should stay put till the end of the season.including de ligt and frenkie.

      Good week of football for the dutch and I hope there will more improvement as they go on.

  7. Please, no more Strootman. Nice to see the Dutch NT starting to get its mojo back. There is talent–there is almost always talent: Oranje just need the right coach to find the right people and right combinations. Koeman seems to be putting his grip on the group.

    RE Sane (Germany): He is a huge talent but apparently has attitude issues. He wasn’t starting for ManCity in the early part of this season for the same reason.

  8. With Wijnaldum, Propper, De Roon, Van de Beek, Rosario, Frenkie, Vilhena and even Daley I think Strootman will not be a starter in the real big games.

    Unless he improves dramatically.

    I also still think Karsdorp, Janmaat and Tete might play a role moving forward.

        1. Van ginkel is needed , as I always said

          I had been following van ginkel long since Chelsie to milan then Stoke and then back to psv

          He is just the unlucky boy all I can say

      1. We dont need Luuk Dejong and Strootman…
        As a pinch hitter i would use Virgil vandijk in last 10 minutes by introducing Devrij in Vandijk spot at defense…Just not waste a spot in NT…Van dijk is nice finisher too..Deligt is not a bad finisher either…if you only look for the sake of big pinch hitter…Luuk De jong and Dost are too slow and they kill every potential move made by others…
        Since Depay took Dost spot ,i think we never looked back…if Depay not available then it should be Babel,Berjwin or even Danjuma…No more time waste with Luuk dejong for the sake of 10 minute pinch hit..
        Then Daley Blind played a smart game,he always plays a nice game when he is not challenged by a speedy guy..he was too good when he played at DM…but he went to usual style when he become LB…
        I think strootman should be dropped and Blind shopuld take Strootman spot..
        its the high time to say good bye to strootman and Luuk dejong….Rest everyone played really was a joy to Memphis,Demfires,vab de beek,Berjwin,Danjuma,Deligt,Devrij,Ake,

          1. He seems shreded his weight,works his but off…thats so amazing to see…He is on right track,next legend in making….He is becoming mature..

  9. Dumfires can offer better than Fosu when it comes to attack.. i think we have New Raiziger in Dumfires…..He should be number 1 RB…Excellent against 2 top class teams,,,
    what else u need…to prove..???

    1. Dumfries took the opportunity and nailed it . It’s a dream come true for him

      He is still so young Ams he will only get better and better

      Janmaat. tete, fosu, Hateboer they will have to fight for the sub position ,( in the long run )

      This is also something I give credit to Koeman , who showed that he got the guts giving new players

      1. Fosu is Robust in defense..Not much great in going forward…Fosu is excellent and even best tricky players struggles to get past him..He must move to CB with Deligt eventually..

        i think its
        Dumfries Vs karsdorp Vs Tete Vs Janmaat then..

        on bench
        –Blind———-Van de beek—-

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