Stefan de Vrij summed it up nicely. The ex Feyenoord man scored again vs Spain, in last Tuesday’s friendly: “I wish we’d play all our international games against Spain…”.
It’s plain to see that Oranje has trouble winning when it has to in serious games against lesser teams, but finds luck at its side against a strong Spain in a friendly.
All the criticism that Hiddink copped after the Turkey game and the previous qualification games at least resulted in a response from both coach and players. Using De Jong as central midfielder and using Afellay as right winger in particular were largely misunderstood by media and public alike. Hiddink said after the Turkey game: “In hindsight, I’d make the same choices” HUH? And “I can get this team to play football, but don’t ask me how, coz I don’t really know now….” WHAT?
TV anchor Jack van Gelder spared the coach in his post-match interview and decided to let him off the hook. The Dutch football analysis programs ripped the former success coach a new one and midfielder Nigel de Jong was also ridiculed by the pundits, for his amateuristic attempt to intervent the Turkish forward when preparing for his goal. Some analysts even suggested that Jordy Clasie had left the trainingscamp disgusted for being totally ignored. “Feyenoord probably said “Come back to us Jordy and let those morons sort it out without you, you don’t need them”. The analyst might be right. Who knows.
It was clear that the team needed to give a response. Hiddink did so by picking the youngsters for the Spain game (not unlike Del Bosque, by the way). Narsingh, Blind in midfield, Klaassen, Willems… And Kenneth Vermeer in goal, exactly as I asked for.
And I’m sure we’ve all seen the highlights? I havent seen the whole game yet (but will this weekend) and I want to see if the team really played much better. From what I did see, it was clear that big shots Depay and Sneijder made their statement and played a big game. Highly needed too. Daley Blind played a good game too, while Davy Klaassen’s game was uplifted by the first Oranje goal he scored. Man of the Match was Kenneth Vermeer who intervened a number of times when Spain looked to score. In any other situation, it might have ended 2-2.
But the saints were with Lucky Gus again. The two Oranje goals were definitely no luckies (another Sneijder to De Vrij assist and a Willems assist for Klaassen), both goals prepared on the wing. While we did get lucky with a couple of bad misses by the Spanish. The biggest miss however was a header by BMI after a clean cross from the right. The Porto man had a clear header but misstimed and his attempt when down to the ground too much, and as a result bounced over De Gea’s goal.
Their “B-team” was as much a B-team as ours… Like Holland, Spain needs to phase some older players out and like Holland, Spain does have a number of exciting young guns coming in.
Our midfield outshone theirs, with Blind and Klaassen doing better than De Jong/Wijnaldum vs Turkey. It’s almost impossible to see Klaassen as the debutant he actually is (he only played 19 minutes in Oranje before this game). Hiddink: “Blind is developing as a leader, which is very important for our midfield development.” Klaassen didn’t have single wrong touch and all his actions were positive and aimed at moving forward. He defended Spain star Carzola well but also added much in attack. Daryl Janmaat, back in the warm nest after being banned for that mistake against the Cechs, showed why he is rated as a top signing in the EPL, always threatening going forward.
Kenneth Vermeer was praised by the coach but he also said that Vermeer was able to stand out thanks to sloppy mistakes by Willems and Martins Indi. “Those mistakes are not longer acceptable at this level. We almost shoot ourselves in the foot with this sort of play.” Hiddink was happy with the development towards the next qualification games.
After 65 minutes or so, the changes started to come and the game became slower and less organised.
Wesley Sneijder spoke of a fantastic night. He is now the most capped filed player of Holland ever, with 113 caps. Only Van der Sar is above him with 130 caps. “It was daunting to play Spain after a bad result but it turned out great. A fantastic night. This builds confidence for the youngsters and gives us some respite towards the next game.” With 17 games to go for Sneijder and looking how he played he might have a crack at Sar’s record.
A not so positive aspect was the fact that one of the world’s best players, Andres Iniesta, was constantly booed by the Dutch supporters. Probably because he scored the winner against us in 2010. The Dutch football world was aghast. Hiddink: “To me that is a disgrace and a downer on the night. Iniesta is the most gentle and nice player. He doesn’t use any sort of bad manner in his game. A true player. And he doesn’t deserve this.” Leo Beenhakker: “I didn’t believe my ears in front of the tv!! This guy worked his whole career for that particular goal. Isn’t he allowed? Do we want our countries to boo Robben or Van Persie all the time for being successful. Ridiculous. People should be grateful to see him play!”. Henk ten Cate, former Barca coach: “Great players don’t care. He is a great player. He won’t really register it. But it is silly, isn’t it. In a friendly game? About a game we played five years ago?”.
This response by the players means a couple of things. 1) it means they can win big games, 2) it means they wish to support their coach and 3) they are capable of playing good football.
What it also MIGHT mean, is that we are not capable of creating much against teams that don’t want to play.
And Turkey, Lithuania, Kazachstan are most likely teams that will try and block any form of flowing football.