Most of you know I was not 100% behind the appointment of LVG. I know he is a great coach and knows a thing or two about (good) football but I sort of fear his dark side…
In the last press conference, however, he was more Han Solo than Darth Vader.
It gives me hope!
He manages groups well, in first instance, and he clearly won over the media with his new behaviour.
Most important question: is this a new Louis, or is he merely acting?
Louis gave clarity to a lot of questions prior to the game. About the captaincy, the line up and even the players he’d bring at half time…. And seemingly, in a friendly way. That did promise something for the future :-).
Holland plays with Stekelenburg on goal, Van Rhijn, Mathijsen, Heitinga, Willems at the back. Nigel as sole holding mid and Raf and Wes as forward midfielders. Robben, Huntelaar and Narsingh play upfront in a 4-3-3.
Fairly remarkable was his comment that Huntelaar will be his striker for the near future. About his conversation with Robin van Persie: “Robin struck me in that. He is very intelligent and we had a very profound talk about football and about life. I have not had a conversation this deep with a player for a long time. It felt good and Robin in my eyes is an absolute top bloke. But Klaas Jan did bring more in the orange and he gets the nod now.”
Breaking news: Arsenal and Man United have reached an agreement on a transfer sum for Van Persie. Tomorrow, the ex-Feyenoord man will negotiate with Ferguson about his personal package.
Holland and Belgium. A famous fixture in the past. In the last decades, Holland likes to see Germany as their arch rival, but our neighbours in the south still see us as such. We played them last in 2004. Much too late. We lost 0-1, on a Bart Goor penalty kick. Sneijder, Heitinga and Kompany played in that match too.
The most famous friendly was the 5-5 in Rotterdam in 1999 with an Edgar Davids on fire.
Today’s Belgium played with (former) Dutch Eredivisie players Vermaelen, Vertonghen, Chadli and benchwarmers Mertens, Alderweireld, Simons, Dembele and Pocognoli.
Belgium plays with pressure high up the park against us and Mathijsen looks sluggish. Narsingh on the other hand impresses with his speed and a good cross on Huntelaar. Holland has lots of possession in the first minutes. And it’s also not as “friendly” in the first phase, with celebrated Van der Vaart copping yellow for a sliding on goalie Coutois.
After 20 minutes, Belgium scored. A lucky. Genk striker Benteke receives the ball after a Heitinga block and scores via Stekelenburg’s feet: 1-0.
Five minutes later, debutant Van Rhijn almost scores on a Narsingh cross. Coutois’ fingertips save Belgium here. The Ajax defender is bulldozered 7 minutes later, in the Belgium area, but ref Atkinson refuses to point to the spot.
Oranje is strong in possession but vulnerable in defense. Van der Vaart has the last word in the first half with a distance strike, blocked off by Vermaelen.
In the break, it’s Mario Been on Belgium tv criticizing Mathijsen: “He’s too slow and sluggish. His build up play is lacking.” And Ruud Gullit on Dutch tv: “Huntelaar isn’t found. If you can’t engage your striker, you are playing with 10 men. And Stekelenburg gambled with that first goal. If he would have stayed on his feet, he would have stopped that one. Like with Germany’s second goal at the Euros…”
In the second half, De Vrij, Maher, Viergever and Martins Indi all make their debut. Heitinga, Mathijsen, Willems and Van der Vaart stay in the dressing room. With Van Rhijn in the line up, Oranje plays with all debutant defenders.
Ten minutes into the second half, it’s Martins Indi’s pass to Robben that creates the equaliser. His low cross is too strong for Hunter, but Narsingh – Holland’s best man in the first half – is at the right spot to score the 1-1.
And only two minutes later, the same actors create the 1-2. Martins Indi’s pass reaches Robben who finds Huntelaar available to tap in the second goal.
Stekelenburg keeps Oranje in the game with good responses to shots of Defour and Chadli. Not much later, it’s Robben dribbling past three defenders, only for Belgium to stop him halfway their own area. Martins Indi impresses in possession but is sloppy defending. Chadli gets a free header thanks to the Feyenoord defender’s lack of marking. Stekelenburg saved Holland just moments before.
Stekelenburg actually needs to act more in the minutes after. A Lukaki shot, and Witsel with a tap in, almost. Adam Maher attempts a distance strike, but Coutois saves this time.
Oi, 2-2 for Belgium. De Jong loses possession and Mertens is away. He outpaces De Vrij and scores. Martins Indi offered Mertens a chance earlier too.
And Belgium scores twice in two minutes too. Mertens creating again, this time Lukaki gets the tap in.
Oh dear, another goal two minutes later yet again! Van Rhijn is marking air and offers Mertens all the time to find ex Ajax skipper Vertonghen who beats ex buddy Stekel. Three goals in 5 minutes? Hmmmm…
Van Persie, Afellay and Kuyt remained on the bench.
So Oranje loses with four goals conceded. The fourth defeat in a row. This happened last in 1954.
Captain Sneijder: “The first 20 minutes in the second half were fantastic. And then we make individual mistakes and we lose the game. That is sad, in particular because we all support this new system we are playing. We should look at the positives now and build on that.”
Coach Van Gaal: “Everyone is really emotional. So I didn’t talk to the lads yet. The first half was not great but we did create 6 chances. We had two great goals in the second half but we had trouble with Lukaku. Personal mistakes get Belgium back into the game.”
Mario Been: “It’s clear where the issues are in Oranje. It’s the back four with the problems. Fix that, and you have a good team.”
Arjen Robben: “We learned a lot today. But there is work to do. But despite the result, this were 3 days well spent. We had good talks and the coach gave me clarity where he wants to use me. In Oranje, he believes my ideal spot is on the left. At Bayern, he switched me to the right. I have a preference there, but I am happy to play on the left wing.” Robben had two assists today.
VI editor and analist Johan Derksen, earlier on extremely critical on Van Gaal (calling him a sneaky unreliable backstabber): “I rate Louis van Gaal’s work today an 8 out of 10. He has put the right players on the right spot. He was very logical today. If players make mistakes on the pitch, he can’t really help that. This must have been a useful night for Van Gaal. Here he could see what happens when we are not at our best. We lose against Belgium.”