France’ vulnerabilities

We played many classic games vs the French. 28 matches in total, we won 10 of them, we lost 13. Only 4 matches ended in a draw. The goal difference is ours though: 54-47.

The big thing though, we lost the last five matches against them. That is a sorry tale. And France is the only opponent against which this happened.

For Holland, anything is possible in this Nations League. We can finish third and get relegated, or we could top the group. All to play for. After 17 months, we finally have a game in De Kuip again. The last 14 matches we played there, we won. The last draw was in 2007, against Romania and our last defeat was in 2000, losing 0-2 vs Portugal under Louis van Gaal. Mathijs de Ligt was just 1 year old then.

Should we win the group, we will be part of the first Nation League final tournament. At this point, no nation is certain yet of the spot in that tournament. Should we draw against Germany, we are certain of a longer stay in the Division A.

The top ten of the final table will result in the group heads for the Euros 2020 qualification. And this is exactly what Koeman is focusing on. At the moment, we are on No. 9, with Iceland (number 12) already not longer capable of overtaking us. Should we beat France, we’re quite certain to be group leader for the Euros qualification.

Anyway, France… How to beat them?

France won the World Cup and France is capable to field 4 equally strong teams with eleven amazing players, if they wanted to. They have some of the most exciting and best forwards (Martial, Lacazette, Mbappe), the most exhilarating midfielders (Griezmann, Pogba, Kante), one of the best goalies (Lloris) etc etc.

However, their game plan is never exciting. They conceded 16 goals this calendar year. They were lucky vs Australia at the World Cup they only scored once vs Peru and got a boring draw against Denmark. It’s a counter team, a team that re-acts, not so much acts.

The only exciting World Cup memory of France was when Argentina happened to lead with 1-2 by a fluke and France had to play football.

Deschamps is the type of coach that knows that his team will be most vulnerable if they lose possession. Statistically, most goals are conceded only seconds after losing possession. So he almost gives the ball to the opponent voluntarily, so France can be the counter-attacking team in the match.

For a top team, practically conceding one goal per game is quite bad.

Goal #1 Colombia –  Luis Muriel

In the first friendly of the year, Colombia’s  Luis Muriel has the opportunity to cross the ball in from the left wing. France’ full back Sibide simply offers to much space to the winger and his cross results in chaos in the French box. Sanzchez flies in to try and volley the ball in but misses. Lloris realises the cross will curl in, but he does so too late. Remarkable: there are nine French players in the box (incl the goalie) but none can stop the ball from curling in.

Goal #2 Colombia – Radamel Falcao

The second Colombia goal is the typical example goal Deschamps wants to rule out. France is in possession, Kante in midfield is looking for the outball. He wants to play in Matuidi but is too late. He’s put under pressure, the pass is too late, the Colombian midfielder Sanchez plays James in who finds Falcao for a tap in. This goal epitomises everything Deschamps loathes.

Goal #3 Colombia – Juan Quintero

Counter attack by Colombia. France is tracking back. Full back Sidibe is in front of the ball and Varane decides to step up to put pressure on Izquierdo. The latter shoots, gets the ball back from a ricochet and ends up penetrating the French box. Umtiti wants to block or tackle but gets it wrong. He misses the ball but gets the right leg of Izquierdo and the ref points to the spot.

Goal #4 Russia – Fyodor Smolov

France loses possession and six French players track back. Wingback Smolnikov bombs forward and crosses the ball to the left flank where Smolov has a simple finish. What is striking, is the complete chaos in the French defence. Umtiti is ball watching on the edge of the box. Tolisso is too late back. France is in disarray.

Goal #5 Italy Leonardo Bonucci

Again, France loses the ball and Italy is on the turn around. Two Italians vs four French players. Balotelli wants to take on Kante, and feels Umtiti in his back. Balotelli acts Comedia Del’ Arte and gets the free kick. The ball is hit with force straight at Lloris who flaps at it and allows Bonucci an easy tap in. Again, Umtiti’s wild defending and Lloris’ sloppiness are on display again.

Goal #6  USA  Julian Green

France is dominating in the game and could have had 4 goals in the first half. Still, Team USA gets the first goal. By accident, the US right back Moore gets the ball in his stride as a result of an unlucky Kante block. He crosses the ball to the penalty spot. Sidibe wants to clear the ball but slips and Julian Green shoots on goal from a difficult angle. The ball goes through Sidibe’s legs and in the near corner, where Lloris again looks weak.

Goal #7 Australia Mile Jedinak

France gets the first goal after a debatable VAR decision. When Australia gets a free kick, Pogba alone forms the wall. There are eight French players in the box, keeping an eye on 5 Aussie players. When Mooy aims the ball in no mans land between last line of defence and the goalie, Umtiti panics and flaps at the ball. The Barcelona defender’s third questionable action. France would win this thanks to a fluke goal, which just passed the goal line by half an inch.

Goal #8 Argentina Angel di Maria

France is leading and decides to allow Argentina the ball. The French are close to their own box and are happy for Messi and co to dribble and play away from the box on the flanks. When Tagliafico gets a throw in, the ball ends up with Angel di Maria, some 35 meters from goal. He gets time to shoot and pick his angle. A world class goal, yes, but one wonders: why did France pull back this much and why wasn’t there any pressure on the ball?

Goal #9 Argentina Gabriel Mercado

A fluke goal, but the result of France offering Argentina the ball. Di Maria is instructed to go one on one with the young French defender, winning a free kick. The free kick ends up with Messi who shoots on goal and via some pinball ricochets past Umtiti – him again – the ball is deflected by Mercado and goes into the net.

Goal #10 Argentina Sergio Aguero

It’s 4-2 now. Pavard had a wondergoal and Mbappe demonstrated his value, twice. Only 22 minutes to go, for France to hold on to the score line. Griezmann and Mbappe are already subbed and France uses the two forwards to be annoying, with two blocks of 4 players behind them. Messi sees a gap in the box, as Varane leaves too much space. The cross is pitch perfect and Aguero scores a relatively simple goal. In the last minutes of the game, France is clearly rocked and struggling to keep Argentina from equalising.

Goal #11 Croatia Ivan Perisic

France is leading 1-0. Pavard loses the ball by playing it too far ahead and wants to make good by putting pressure on the opponent. The Croatian defender Vida decides to hoof the ball forward. Mandzukic heads the ball forward and Perisic is off. Kante recognises the danger and fouls the winger. The free kick results in Hernandez losing the first header while Umtiti loses the second and Perisic gets the ball on the edge of the box. He takes on Kante and scores with his left.

Goal #12 Croatia Mario Mandzukic

The finals are done. France leads 4-1. Mandzukic believes in it, though and puts pressure on France. He runs on to Umtiti and when he plays the back pass, the Juve forward puts pressure on Lloris. The Spurs goalie wants to take Mandzukic on and trick the forward. He fails and Lloris again is involved in a goal that didn’t need to happen.

Goal #13 The Netherlands  Ryan Babel

Again, a goal scored in the turn around. Tete has the ball. Mendy puts pressure on Tete who uses Depay – who dropped deep – for the 1-2 combination. The Lyon defender uses the space vacated by Mendy while Babel makes a run to get into the space vacated by Memphis. All in high intensity. The cross is perfect and Babel’s finish is too. Holland uses the French tactics – slowly putting the opponent to sleep and then pounce – to great success.

Goal #14 Iceland Birkir Bjarnason

A friendly vs Iceland. Deschamps uses different players, offers players a chance who haven’t gotten a lot of playing time. Pogba and Kante are rested. The result is chaos. France has most possession, 64%. But Iceland has the opportunities. Iceland defends en groupe and waits for the mistakes and errors. Finnbogason is too slick for Kimpembe and passes the ball to Bjarnason who passes the ball into the net.

Goal #15 Iceland Kari Arnason

Varane stays in the dressing room at half time and Zouma comes in for the Madrid centre back. Iceland’s major weapon, the dead ball situation. Sigurdsson crosses the ball in, perfectly. Arnason makes a run into the space and beats Kimpembe. Only 30 mins to go and Iceland is leading 0-2. Deschamps immediately brings his talisman Mbappe. The youngster turns the 0-2 scoreline into 2-2.

Goal #16 Germany Toni Kroos

This goal is again a typical French goal to concede. France wants to play out of the back via the central axis. Kimpembe passes the ball to Pogba which is the sign for Germany to put pressure on. Kroos flicks the ball away from Pogba, Gnabry takes the ball and passes into Sane, on full speed. Kimpembe wants to control the damage with a wild tackle to block the ball and handles it. Kroos converts the penalty.

Who will play vs Holland?

Mendy, Hernandez, Umtiti, Pogba, Tolisso, Martial, Lacazette and Coman will all be absent due to injuries. It seems Deschamps will use the World Cup winning line up bar three players. Digne will probably play  for Hernandez on the left flank, and Kimpembe will probably play for Umtiti. Griezmann will most likely annoy Frenkie de Jong, while Giroud will be stepping on the toes of Van Dijk and De Ligt. Giroud is Deschamps go to striker, not so much for his goals, but for his work ethics.

Lloris is a top line goalie with sensational reflexes but at times he becomes almost clownesque when having to leave his goal area. Kimpembe is quick and strong but doesn’t play a lot at PSG. Right full back Pavard is usually a centre back with his club Stuttgart. He’s weak in the one on one and has trouble making the right decisions in terms of positioning.

Without Pogba, all creativity is gone from midfield. Kante is world class as box to box player and tackler but he’s not the playmaker and takes too much time when under pressure. N’Zonzi will play for Pogba but he also is not your typical creative 10. Deschamps goes for control and Holland will want Kante to be the man for the build up.

I personally believe Holland will stop the rot against France. No defeat this time. I go for a win, but it could end up being a draw. We’ll take either.

I believe we will be sharp, eager and aggressive. I can see Memphis score again and Bergwijn too this time. I think we’ll play with:

Babel – Memphis – Bergwijn

De Roon – Wijnaldum – De Jong

Blind  – Van Dijk – De Ligt – Dumfries


I will predict a 2-1 win for Oranje. All goals by us. Own goal De Ligt, for the fun of it.

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        1. Ha Ha say it Blind….
          I do feel blind will spoil the party…he will leak one..when it matters…or else at least we could get a 1-0 or 2-1..i hope annholt plays though ideal candiadte is terence kongolo..

  1. Fine first half. Nice to be up a goal.

    DeRoon’s positioning…DeLigt’s speed and dominance…Dumfries going forward…quick turnaround to defense. These are a few of my favorite things. 🙂

  2. Good performance by Oranje. Should have, could have scored more goals. They dominated the whole game.

    Completely different team compared to the one that was outclassed in Paris during the World Cup qualifiers.

    France barely created any chances. They’ve to thank Lloris for keeping the scoreline close.

  3. This was a very good game. All the more fun to watch it on French 📺, complete with Lizarazu’s whines. 😆

    I’ll say it again: I really like Ryan Babbel.

    1. I’m coming to appreciate more what Babel brings at both ends of the field. His massive strike led to the goal by Wijnaldum, but his defensive work was so strong.

      1. @goldstone.

        Totally agree with you. Yes we have had some fantastic results and performances in the last few years, Spain 5-1, Portugal 3-0, Sweden 4-0, our amazing demolitions of Ilay and France in Euro 2008. Even beating Germany recentl 3-0.

        But this was the game for me, when I remembered why in 1992 I fell in love with Duch football. It wasn’t just my fathers Dutch roots, it was the style, the arrogance of the style, the beautifully composed consistent recirculation of the ball, the complete domination of your opponent until they mentally surrender, mixed with daring flicks and tricks. To dare to not only win, but also take the moral victory to by handing out your opponent a footballing lesson, no matter who they are. This is what I’ve missed, and this is what I saw last night.

        1. Great song of praise, lucas! Really felt magic to me, too, as if Cruyff was watching and saying, finally. At last.

          I’m just bummed out that I can’t watch it again.

  4. Fantastic

    I’m so overjoyed. But what has brought me even more joy than the actual result….. for the first time, maybe since I watched take apart Scotland in a 6-1 demolition for Euro 2004 playoffs, I have seen Dutch, play like the Dutch.

    1. It was really fun, wasn’t it? Several times I shouted at my computer out of joy! It was lovely to watch. We had more than a couple of great matches since 2004… but this, and the victory over Germany, seem colossal.

      We have such extraordinary young talents. Memphis has matured into something beyond; De Jong is a huge talent; Babel is reading the game better than ever; Blind knows his limitations, and has speedy Van Dyke and de Ligt to work with. Just great to watch. It looked more like total football than anything we’ve seen recently. We finished enough to get the result.

      Looking forward to Jan’s analysis…

      Hup, Holland!

  5. Superb performance! Without Lloris, we would have had 5 goals I think. Top class game. Only positives for me. We are entering that stage where Spain was in 2008… We’ll win this Nations League, then the Euros and finally the WC in 2022. Analysis to come later as I am traveling now.

    1. No rush jan

      Take your time

      We have won against Portugal Germany and France now

      Most important to these young boys is the confidence

      The growth in self belief is enourmous

      I do believe this team will get even more stronger and stronger and conginue go grow to be immortal in the next 2 years and reaches ifs peak in 2022!!!

      1. Though my only worries would still be the front

        What if Depay gets Injured . Either short or long term Koeman must think of a plan B and C

        Also if de Jong gets injured , there is also no one that is close to him at the moment.

  6. Just finished watching it. Set my DVR, and avoided result all day at work…worth waiting for. So many things to say.

    Start with Depay…he pulls on the Dutch shirt and he is fantastic…leading the line, pulling the strings. Its not just his right foot and his ability to run at teams with the ball, but its how he brings the others in; Wijnaldum who seals up the front of the defense and pushes up field with skill and strength, what a set of lungs, and he will stick the ball in the net; Babel, Koeman can trust him in any situation; Bergweijn who ran all night…
    and I can say how impressed I have become by De Roon;

    VVD and de ligt—terrific pairing; Blind so smart and steady and skillful; and Dumfries, what a game he had…I’d put him up with Wijnaldum and Depay for Man of the match…

    Frenkie De Jong, very composed tonight. I was mindful of Jan’s comment above that for all its skill, France wants its opponent to have the ball and hit on the counter, and it looked like they kept wanting to bait him into carring the ball to the middle all night long, and he never took the bait (I suspect under Koeman’s instructions)…he played a composed, understated game, and kept the defense airtight.

    Finally, Cillesen looks so safe and composed these days.

    Such a great night in Rotterdam (can they play all their big qualifiers there?).

    And another match to look forward to on Monday! A point and they take the group.

    btw, forgot who asked, but Mbappe played on the left of France’s formation (Dumfries’ side) most of the match. He moved towards the middle when France made its double substitution.

    1. Mbhappe was Handled by Deligt basically,he pocketed him..i sure deligt value might be sky rocketted now…I have seen Mbhappe schools almost any top defenders…speedy guys like babel,dumfries and wijnaldum had eye on Mbhappe..they didnt allowed Blind to get exposed with Mbhappe…
      If Deshamps was smart he woul have played Mbhappe on blind area..which didnt happend..

      1. No, Tiju: Mbappe started on the right, head to head with Blind… but Blind had him handled, so he switched to the left. But Dumfries schooled him, too. 😉

  7. Words can’t describe how happy I am!!!!! I am so excited and so happy to able to go to bed in this cold Detroit night! Oranje makes me dream again and makes me proud!!! All friends who watched the games and know my obsession with oranje were telling me today how great this oranje team and I felt so proud 🙂 !!!! One more please one more draw in Germany and the dream keeps going to play the final four of nations league in June!!!

  8. What has been ablsoutely critical for NT has been De Roons impact in the midfield. He does the dirty work silently without much notice.frenkie is moving up and down on that left further pushing wijnaldum on top giving him more free role on the top right. In attack the its,


    De Jong———————

    ————–De Roon——

    In defense


    De Jong————De Roon—

    The complementing factor in midfield has been execuated brilliantly, something that was lacking. De Roon in the whole game is sitting right in front of the back four sliding horizontally both ways and providing that link from the middle.this may have gone unnotice but his impact is really shaping the midfield.

    1. Yes, de Roon quietly goes about his business and offers an understated level assurance that is allowing us to get the best out of Wijnaldum especially.

      Dumfries… what a guy. He was immense last night.

  9. @goldstone.

    Totally agree with you. Yes we have had some fantastic results and performances in the last few years, Spain 5-1, Portugal 3-0, Sweden 4-0, our amazing demolitions of Ilay and France in Euro 2008. Even beating Germany recentl 3-0.

    But this was the game for me, when I remembered why in 1992 I fell in love with Duch football. It wasn’t just my fathers Dutch roots, it was the style, the arrogance of the style, the beautifully composed consistent recirculation of the ball, the complete domination of your opponent until they mentally surrender, mixed with daring flicks and tricks. To dare to not only win, but also take the moral victory to by handing out your opponent a footballing lesson, no matter who they are. This is what I’ve missed, and this is what I saw last night.

  10. Best show of dutch i ever seen. Better than our show against france and italy in euro 2008. I think atmospher of rotterdam was so possitive. Also france missing pogba. De jong was wonderfull U can see it in cante eyes. He was out of game by de jong. Also i think our top 3 were so good and fast for france. The problem was we had just 11 player and koman dont want any change until 87 minutes. I think our game against gemany can be so hard. Because they are fresh anr our talents are a little tired


    This is something I dont understand about dutch coaches. Look at this lineup.on paper they looked so formidable compared to the united, AS Roma, Hamburg, everton, PSV, Ajax,but got humilated by a relatively unkown germans .Van drongelen clearly is not a LB but yet makeshift position for him, no malacia no bakker. Zeeifuk wtf.

    Just makes you wanna cry. Chong to no show.

    1. Yes on paper it looks a great team

      But mind you malen is still not a starter for psV

      And chong though he is with manu but still has zero chance go play one game yet

  12. can anyone tell me what’s next ?

    Let’s say Holland tip the group (which I believe 99% should be the case unless they lose against the Germans ), what and who will they play Against ?
    How many games more will they play ?

    Also , if we top the group , does it means we will go straight into Euro 2020?

    1. If we win the group, we go to the final four of nations league in June we play a semifinal against another group winner of level A and if we win we play the final against the winner from the other game between the two other group winners of level A! If we win the final we become the nations league champions simply! But there is no direct qualification for the euros!!!

      Contrary to what some people think, there is no direct qualification to the Euros from nations league!
      There are 20 teams that qualify from the classic euro qualifiers and 4 seats are left for playoffs for nations league teams!
      One of those seats is for league level A
      One seat is for league level b, one for level c and one for level D!

      So in other words if god forbid we don’t qualify directly from the regular qualifiers, but we r nations league winners then we have a play off in March 2020 for a seat in the euros! It is like a salvation seat!

  13. Got it Tks !

    So basically only if we top our group , we can continue to play against I think Portugal Belgium or Spain ?

    Hmm.. I kind of feel how the other nations don’t value this nations league much

    Of course for oranje it’s a bit different as we are in a process of building a Kee team

    1. assuming belgium, spain and portugal top their groups and we top ours then yes the semi would be for example: netherlands vs spain and belgium vs portugal!

      I disagree with u about other big teams not taking the tournament seriously because the tounrmanet has a lot of prestige for bog nations in level A! who wants to be relegated to level B? or which big nation likes to lose to another big nation? all teams are taking it seriosuly!

  14. Hey guys,

    Congrats with reviving Oranje! Could you suggest me a site where I could watch this game again. I remember someone posted here a web address of the site but I lost it. Thank you

  15. Well, this is more like it!
    we can again enjoy that winning feeling by beating the current world champs, and to be fair, dominating the match. Jan you are right we could have scored a couple more goals, it really a shame we didn’t but who cares.
    I want to give some credit to Koeman, because we usually blame the coach when things go wrong for us so I think he deserves a lot of the credit here. The group look like they are enjoying football again, that is so important for a team to be successful and this always comes from the coach, so ‘WELL DONE RONALD”.
    lets hope we can finish with another win against Germany and top the group in style, this would really put us back on the footballing radar worldwide!
    Hup Holland!

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