Hi all, sadly no more time to write a specific post on the Austria game.
I personally think it will be a tough match for us, even without Arnautavic involved. They’re an experienced team, physically and tactically disciplined. This could wel end in a 2-2 result or something like that, I wouldn’t be surprised if we would choke on this opponent.
But, being positive as I am, I will call 3-0 for Oranje. Goals by Wijnaldum, Memphis and Malen.
Leave me your prognosis below in the comments.
And leave me some beer money while you’re at it :-). Covid hurt this blog and blogger too… You can now also decide to donate crypto. it seems to be going down anyway…
Your gift is appreciated
The AD newspaper had a nice insightful interview with Frenkie de Jong.
For someone who is usually showered with superlatives and compliments, he hardly uses them himself. More to the contrary. When you start paying attention it becomes comical, even. In this particular interview, which took an hour, he used words like “not bad” and “pretty ok” around 12 times. The only time he uses the word “amazing” is when he mentions Messi.
We’re halfway the interview, talking about his role in this Dutch Netherlands team at these Euros. “If I can reach my usual level, I have a fair chance to get minutes,”. He says it with conviction. As if this is not the best and most popular Dutch player of the moment. And it’s not a false modesty. He is like this. Calm, balanced and analytical. He’s self conscious but also highly self critical. He finds it easy to put things into perspective, as a result, the hysteria surrounding him doesn’t really affect him.
He’s got a smile almost plastered on his face, but it’s not like he’s without tribulations. It appears as if he floats through life, but the people who know him well will tell you this is definitely not the case. Frenkie was convinced of his talent and ambitions when he was still quite young. “We watched the World Cup 2014 at home, with friends and family. And from a certain age, I felt…yes, I want that. And I always felt that one day, I would be at a big tournament. I was 12 years old and had the complete conviction.”
Frenkie is a modest kid, grew up in the small town of Arkel. A normal, fun of the mill family. Dad is parking guard in Delft and his little brother plays there with the local amateurs. Parking guard is probably the exact opposite of the position Frenkie has in life. “But my dad loves his job. He’s a lot in the outside open air, riding his bike and he knows a lot of people in Delft. He’s not the guy who will fine you, he’ll probably talk to you to get you to change your behaviour.”
Frenkie’s journey to his first big tournament was relatively long. The missing of the World Cup 2018 happened just before his break through in Oranje. And when Koeman’s Oranje qualified for the 2020 Euros, it got postponed with a full year due to Corona.
“I don’t feel young anymore. I am not a rookie anymore, you know. But playing your first tournament is super special. I’m enjoying and I talked about it with the lads that were at the 2014 World Cup. And it has started to really sink in, now the domestic leagues have finished. The commercials on telly, the orange jerseys, I love it. As long as I don’t have to be in one.”
While many of this colleagues opted for a week holiday in Dubai or Ibiza, De Jong went home to Arkel to recharge his batteries. “I didn’t feel tired. We didn’t perform well in the last part of the season with Barca, but it wasn’t fatigue. We simply had to beat Granada at home and take the lead in the Liga. We had a good spell before that game. And then the draw against Levante and the belief seeped out of the team. It was mainly mental. As if we kept on chasing our tail.”
You gave yourself a 6,5 for the season in the newspaper Trouw, after your first season. What is the grade for this one?
“No, hahaha, it was a 6 actually. I don’t know for this season. I my personal performances were better than last season, but we missed the title, we got kicked out of the CL pretty early and despite the national cup, we had a mediocre if not bad season. When you play at Barca, you want more. The season itself wasn’t dramatic, we had a fantastic comeback and played some good stuff, but at the end of the day: not good enough.”
So, that means one point more?
“I would say, half a point.”
But your personal stats went up, like Koeman wanted from you?
“When Koeman came in, I had a talk about my role in the team. And he was clear: he wanted me to be more offensive and add to the team’s goal tally. He kept on saying: you’re a big money signing, you need to start making the difference, you need to take responsibility. He put more pressure on me and I loved it.”
Under Koeman, he did play on several positions. He played in the holding role, he played a number of games as centre back and the final part of the season more and more in the attacking mid role. He made quite an impression in that position.
“I do like scoring goals, but it depends on your role for the team. At Ajax and initially at Barca I played in the holding role. You are the first station in the build up and you determine pace, and direction, you try to start the engine. When you’re a more offensive mid, you are station 2, in a way. You are higher up the pitch, and you aim to be decisive, with a dribble, or a through ball… I played well in that role, I had my best games in that position. And in the Cup Final (Copa del Rey) it was probably very visible, with a goal and two assists.”
“I prefer the midfielders role, either holding or forward. I prefer not to play too far back, as you are more a lock on the door than a real playmaker. And playing in the #10 role is also not my preference as you are more in a sort of waiting mode, waiting for the players behind you to find you. I prefer to be more involved, hence my preference for midfield. The ball is there most often. I basically want to have the ball, hahahaha.”
He assimilated into Barcelona life with ease it seems. The city, the magnitude of the club, the media, the players group… it all went smooth. As if it was normal that a kid from Arkel played in the Bluegrana jersey. Where Donny van de Beek, Steven Bergwijn, Hakim Ziyech and before them Memphis Depay had serious issues settling in another country and club.
“The ideal moment to go abroad is different for everyone. You can’t say “you need 150 Eredivisie games before you go”. I think it’s different per player. Some are ready when 18, others are ready when they’re 27. I did feel more settled the second season, I think that is actually quite normal. Barca paid something like 80 million for me, and that puts a lot of pressure and expectations on you, but I will remain who I am. They bought me for how I played at Ajax so that is how I’ll play here. I won’t become a different person.”
How is it now in your second season along side Messi? Does your relationship change, now you’re there a bit longer?
“I met him first when we had a friendly against Arsenal. He came later due to the Copa America. I shook his hand, I am not sure if he mentioned his name. Not that he had to, hahaha. I told him my name. But Messi… I am still humbled to play with him. He is so amazingly good. He has so much status. And you can understand, when I have the ball and I can play the ball to Messi or to another player, well… if they’re both in a good position, I’ll pick Messi. Isn’t that the best thing to do?”
How was it to see him blossom again this season?
“I think he’s very happy at Barca. I hope he stays, he’s so important for us. In the dressing room we act as per normal with one another, but I don’t ask him about his future, or app him to ask him to stay. That is up to him. When I was 12 years old, he already was the best of the world. He won the Ballon D’Or, right? And now I play with him :-). That is just amazing. And I realise it every day that I play with him now.”
The Spanish media are now also very focused on Frenkie. “It’s extreme, it’s 12 times worse or more intense in Spain. There are tv programs on football that literally broadcast 24/7. And they sometimes just make it up, you know?”
The Dutch football fans will have their eyes set on Frenkie de Jong, but the expectations aren’t that high. Frenkie gets that: “If you do go to a tournament, you need to go to win it. Otherwise, why go? But you need to be realistic too: France – to name one – is favorite I think. Look at that squad! And there are about 8 nations that can win it and I think we are part of that eight. We’ll need to focus on every game as they come and not talk about the title now. Let’s earn that privilege.”