Orange Masterclass vs World Champs!

You know you did something right when even national team manager Ronald Koeman says that it was an exceptional performance. I think it’s fair to say Holland played one of the best games in many years.

It clicked. It’s all working out. The mix of experience and youthful exuberance, the seasoned and shrewd Babel, the focused Cillesen, mercurial Memphis, disciplined Blind and the ridiculously talented De Jong and De Ligt… Working under a no-nonsense pragmatic coach as Ronald Koeman with warrior Van Dijk as his lieutenant… Simply perfection.

If it wasn’t for Lloris, we could have won 5-0. And how good is it, to not only beat France, but to also have Germany relegated at the same time… Ah, the sweet smell of revenge.

Koeman was quite cautious after the 3-0 beating of Germany. “It was good but not the whole game. We had good spells and lesser spells. We are improving but I want to see more of the good and less of the not-so-good.” This time, after becoming the first nation to beat the newly crowned Champions of the World, he couldn’t hide his enthusiasm and praised his team. “I can not fault them on anything. We played a perfect game and every single player was playing great. I am very happy and proud and we have definitely turned a corner. We can develop into a great team with a bright future.”

Koeman can indeed be proud of what the team achieved:

  • We are the reason Germany got relegated
  • Oranje will stay in this Division A
  • Oranje is certain of being in Pot 1 for Euro qualifiers
  • Oranje is the first team to beat World Champions France
  • A big jump in the FIFA ranking
  • A draw vs Germany means Holland will be in the Nations League
  • The end of a series of defeats vs France


The win in Rotterdam means it’s the 15th game in a row won in De Kuip. In the last 15 matches played in the Johan Cruyff Arena, Oranje lost 7 matches. In 2018, Memphis was involved in half of all the goals Oranje scored. Including his stats for Lyon, Depay was involved in 41 goals (23 scored, 18 assisted) in 52 matches.

Hugo Lloris needed 9 saves against Holland, the highest level of saves for France since 2008.

The Dutch media praised the performance. The terms “magnificent” and “reborn” and “master class” were used to describe what Holland achieved. “As if Oranje drank from the well of confidence. But apart from the execution, this team also oozes warmth and sympathy. This is a team with class, who bonded as friends, this is finally a real team. This might well be the biggest difference compared to the post 2014 Oranje teams we saw being humiliated. It was balanced, disciplined, focused, but also with balls. And France? They played like Iceland plays. But without the passion. The World Champs didn’t dazzle us with quality in Russia and has further slipped into apathy.”

De Telegraaf mentions the only weak point of Oranje: “They could and should have scored more. This is something to work on. Otherwise the victory was sensational. With a world class performance by Memphis. Everytime Depay was played in, the French panicked. He had continuously two markers close to him, but it didn’t stop him.” The normally modest and puritan Trouw wrote that Koeman has transformed a weak performing collective of players into a team, playing with their brains, their qualities and with passion and purpose. “This was a good night in the natural home of Oranje: De Kuip.”

De Volkskrant: “And coming Tuesday, Holland can beat Germany again and win this Group. Who would have predicted this 3 months ago? Not only did we beat and relegate Germany, we also beat the world champions with a last second Panenka by Memphis.”

The international media picked up on the performance as well. The French papers speak of a the ruthless Orange Lion tearing the French cock to pieces. The French federation president admitted that France had deservedly been beaten by a better opponent. “Holland was better on every level this time around. Pure class.”

Skysports: “A rampant Holland didn’t give France a chance, with man of the match performances by Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay and Denzel Dumfries.”

Marca in Spain: “In the Dutch football temple, Holland hadn’t lost for 15 matches and this 16th match was a victory as well. No one took notice of Holland anymore, but there are some young tulips coming up and they shine more bright than ever. Holland played France completely drunk.”

El Mundo Deportivo was focused on Frenkie de Jong: “De Jong is a modern playmaker, he can dribble, he can pass and is always on the move. Uncharacteristically for a playmaker, he is also happy to tackle and put in a shift for the team.”

France coach Deschamps was quite clear: “We didn’t have any claim on anything today. We were deservedly beaten by a better Holland, It’s not an excuse that we missed players. We should have competed more, even with the players who were fit to play. Holland simply wanted it more.”

So how did we do it?

Koeman found a way for Oranje to dominate, without committing too many players forward allowing the French to counter attack. Deschamps will have thought: Holland at home, they want to win, they want to attack and we’ll pick ‘m off.

The French trap usually consists of 3 controlling midfielders, 2 fast wide forwards (Mbappe, Griezmann) and a strong target man upfront (Giroud). Not unlike PSV’s tactics.

Koeman’s preparation was all about the balance between having enough players around the ball to control the game, while having enough players back to stop the counter. In his pre-match talk he told the players this will probably be “the most difficult match, so far!”.

The French set up. Four defenders, a bank of 3 controlling midfielders, Mbappe and Griezmann in front of these guys and Giroud up top

Koeman’s mantra: always have three players in the last line of defence. The build up will be done by Blind, De Roon, De Jong, Van Dijk or De Ligt. Out of these 5, there always needs to be 3 together at the back. Denzel Dumfries strength is all about bombing forward on the flank, allowing Bergwijn to come inside to assist either Memphis or the midfield.

Babel on the left would remain on the flank, as Blind is less of a forward bulldozering full back, but whenever Blind would move forward, and he would do so with gusto at times, Babel would also move inside, to stop their counter should we lose possession.

Even if only Giroud was up front, with Mbappe and Griezmann tucking back in to support midfield, Oranje would never play naive and keep 3 players with Giroud to protect the space.

On our own half, always three man behind the ball. This time with Frenkie as the first build up go-to guy.

Once Oranje brings the ball well into the French half, would be the moment when Holland would allow two defenders with Giroud but keep two controlling mids close to the centre backs (usually De Roon and De Jong, with Wijnaldum further forward).

This time, it’s De Roon as the third “central defender” with De Jong roaming in between the lines.

This way, the Dutch would crowd the midfield enough to stop counters from happening, while the tactical smarts of De Roon and De Jong would protect the space.

Before the half time break, this tactics did results in a chess match, a tactical game of sorts, less entertaining than the Dutch usually like it. With Koeman, it’s results before entertainment.

After Holland scored, Deschamps makes some changes to go from the 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 and it’s then when Oranje is capable of playing in between their lines and create havoc.

This time, Blind also drops deep to offer an option, as he realises De Roon could dribble into midfield. Notice Dumfries positioning higher up the park.

Once Oranje loses possession they pressure high to win the ball back and if that fails, Babel and Bergwijn – the oldest Soldier of Orange and one of the youngest ones – fall back into a wide full back role to guard the space. Highly disciplined and tactically astute. A good example of how far Dutch football has gone. Babel resurrected his career with aplomb and Bergwijn is already playing at an astonishing mature level.

An early chance! Notice how 5 Oranje players are in front of the ball, with only Van Dijk and De Ligt in defence, and De Jong and de Roon protecting those two. Blind is moving into the French half. This is where Koeman allowed the Dutch to take risks.

Ronald Koeman deserves praise for ending the naivety that so characterised Dutch football recently. He knows, that in today’s game, it’s the turn around that is key. It’s loss of possession, individual errors and dead ball situations that will be key. And this match also showed that playing with patience, with tactical discipline and organisation can lead to an entertaining match.

A great view on Oranje’s movement when losing possession. Both full backs (Blind and Dumfries) came inside to put pressure on the French axis (with Blind challenging for the ball. Babel is playing left full back, while our centre backs go into position to sniff out the forward pass.

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  1. I love you Jan 🙂 beautiful article as usual! I don’t feel like talking about tactics or anything like that I just wanna keep replaying the game on tv and in my mind, what a beautiful musical show it was by those oranje artists!!! I slept with an orange jersey on tonight and woke up with it:)
    Praying for a good result tomorrow 🙏

  2. We are very strong now and proven that we are back to the team that is able to kill all those “ world champions “

    However , mind you that we still
    Are not in the Euros yet . Not even have we played a single qualifier game

    We need to continue build from what we have now . I hope Koeman will have all the plan B for possible injuries ( eg if Depay or de Jong gets Injured then how ?)

    Am not worried abt the defence at all as we got too many strong subs . De vrij hasn’t even got a place now but his time Will definitely come

    Can’t wait to see once Daishan Redan comes in together with Tabith Chong

  3. Koeman has done a great Job in coaching..its immense..
    We have a fluid front three ever since Dost b left that spot to memphis we never looked back..that was key in scoring goals..
    Not playing strootmna was also key…
    when we had front 3 of Vanpersie -Roben -kuyt i counted only 2 as threat to opponent..
    now we have three 3 speedy trickery guys at front….that makes things deadly…
    ON TOP OF everything their work rate..the untired young lungs,speedy young legs who can contain Mbhappe…
    i think Germany has some speedy guys in timo werner and Leory sane…i feel we will have a tougher game…

  4. who all will be our subs
    i think first 11 is confirmed now
    ——Vilhena—–Van de beek——-
    on stand bye

  5. Great stuff, Jan. Very informative and enlightening. Thank you.

    Confidence and belief is a beautiful thing; when a team has it, plays with it. This team has it right now. For the second half, I expected France to gather itself, come out from behind it counterattacking curtain and really come at the NT. Maybe they tried, but they sure didn’t. The Dutch were a street better when France had every reason to want to raise their game.

    That said; the Germany match has me worried. The Germans have been stung and must be embarrassed; they are playing at home, and while it may be forgotten in the wake of a 3-0 scoreline, there were significant portions of the match in which the Germans had the better of the play and forced the Dutch into some desperate defending. (Not hard to imagine that everything would have been different had Sane scored.)

    Plus, as one of you astutely pointed out above, Oranje will be playing their 2nd match in 4 days, while Germany is rested at home.

    So, I think I’ll prepare by…watching the 2nd half of the France game again. 🙂

    Confidence is a beautiful thing.

  6. This was a perfect game which is still kinda hard to believe BUT we’re back. We have some wonderful talents. The player who totally shocked was Dumfries. I had never heard of him but this guy was unbelievable in attacking the flank. I love F deJong hair. It reminds me of Witschge.
    Depay was simply untouchable. I can’t remember if he ever lost the ball.
    I have to say France seemed sleepy and lazy but this doesn’t diminish the beauty of a perfect game. I hope we still have legs to contain a German onslaught on Monday. A draw gets us to semifinals.
    I pray that deLigt, deJong, Dumfries, Bergwijn stay in Holland and play first team football.
    So much to say. Exciting times.

  7. I think and I agree that koeman should increase the depth by rotating some players now.the best starting 11 has alreadly being identified and now he should try to increase the depth by identifying the right backup players for each position. If you look at france, who would have thought injuries could take its toll on the team like it did vs nerthlands.the same could happen easily to NT if Depay or De Jong gets injured.

    Nathan Ake is probably one guy that needs to given a specific role which best suits and this is where koeman needs to concentrate more on him and in some other positions as well.van annholt as well. Sam allardyce managed to get the best out him and I dont think koeman is any worse than sure he too must be waiting for his chance like many others to prove himself.

    Not but least you can tell there are some players on the bench which are just making numbers only.strootman, Vilhnea, luuk etc. Vilhnea I said it long time ago his time has expired. Maybe koeman should look at other options and players.if there aint much options in eredivisie then it would be viable to go with older players who are playing in other leagues.tjaronn chery is one player who seems to be in the same boat as 29 he still can be integral player in the midfield until such time somebody is ready shift a gear up.till euros at least. Im hoping come the qualifications koeman will call him up and maybe lens as well.

  8. Just been reading an interesting interview with Frank Wormuth, who’s the trainer at Heracles Almelo now. (Two apologies: It’s in German; and I haven’t watched Heracles in a few years.)

    BUT… Wormuth’s casual observation about the difference between Eredivisie and Bundesliga is revealing: “While my [Almelo] players make 110 sprints over 25 k in an hour, Eintracht Frankfurt, for example, makes 245.”

    This underscores a key difference in training and performance. Could years of training at a less intense level be holding some of our talents back?

      1. @Wilson, Thanks. It is a different Germany team. Looks like they are playing a 3-4-3; starting Sane and Gnabry wide, so could be a very open game. I know that switching to 3 CD’s is supposed to provide more defensive security, but its not Germany’s normal formation, so could lead to hiccups. Plus Germany’s backline is not the best.

        Just a few minutes now. Lets go boys!

  9. Disappointing half. Back to bad old habits of losing defensive concentration. Lot of possession but no real chances created.

    Playing a high defensive line lets the Germans sit back and strike on quick counter-attacks.

    Very open game. Hopefully, the second half will be better.

  10. We’re looking like our old selves. Disappointing by Koeman tactics in this game. Team was full of holes since the 1st minute. Germany took us apart and we’re lucky to be just 2 goals down. If we don’t tighten up we will suffer more goals. I don’t have much hope about scoring. Depay is isolated and german defence has everything under control. Oh well. We had a good spell with 2 big wins.

  11. I just hope this game finish as soon as possible. Also i said before germany are fresh and we are tired of france game. Kieman dint player in that game until 86 minutes.

  12. 0-2 is a respectable result considering how terrible we are playing.What is the point of keeping one of our best players vs France like Demfries on the bench??!! Why tinker in such a game.

  13. I will not jump immediately into criticizing the team. Koeman and Co have acheived their goals:
    1. Survive in A division
    2. Get seeded position for the Euro-2020.

    I do not think, We need to advance for the final stage of the Nation’s League. Our focus is Euro-2020 and WC-2022. UEFA National’s leauge is a great tournament for prepartion.

    I agree, kids look very tired. I beleive they are more emotionally tired rather than physcially. Too much efforts were given to the game against France.

  14. THis game also shows:

    1.How much Dumfries is better than Tete
    2. Oranje needs to increase physcial strength: two back to back high level games has caused so many injuries

  15. Looks like it was our destiny to continue in the UEFA Nation’s League. I am amazed by the spirit of our TEAM. Big congratulations to all Ornaje fans. It looks like we have already came back!!!!!

  16. I hope frenky and de ligt undrestand many thing in this game. De ligt can do better in both german goals also if dumfires play i think the second goal cannot be happened for them. And i think frenkie was stressfull in this game. Also german analyze him good and their mids plays near him whole the match.

  17. Hahaha! What a typical Germany way of getting the result… Germany played really well and could have had 4 or 5 goals but they fluffed their lines.

    Amazing come-back and what a Van Dijk goal! Looked like a Van Basten volley.

    Well done boys.

    Bergwijn was injured indeed and Tete was selected over Dumfries due to fitness but also defensive strength of Tete.

    He had a tough night, but that is what Germany forced, Sane on the left, lots of movement behind Tete. I think Dumfries would have had a tough night as well.

    1. I think germany was lucky about their first goal. Werner shot was lucky shot and ball go the best way(for them) it can go.also if cilessen was taller he can do better. Nerherland need taller goalkepper like van der sar

  18. I agree with what AZ Forever has said above. NT lacks that physical strength to compete, back to back of high level intensity expected the Germans were a totally different team and they run riot till the 80 minute mark until low decide to drop low the guard by subbing sane and Gnabry and Werner before him. the dutch subs turned out to be more impact full than the German subs and this turned the game around.

    I think if you look at the player rating its gives you a clear as to how it happened.

    overall the Nation Cup has become a good stepping ground for the dutch and a timely one especially given koeman has had the luxury to work more with team than previously where the teams used to meet occasionally in friendlies prior to qualification.

  19. our good friend tiju had a obsession of Van dijk playing as a striker. the question arises now can he really play as a striker or was he at the right place, right time.?

    1. Our Defenders are world class and super stars,They can can finish better than kuyt,Dost kind of course they cannt be better than Robens,CR7 etc…what Dost/kuyt is brining in attack can also be provided by Deligt or Vandijk..they are too talented for that..
      I thought i would not waste a spot for Luuk dejong /Dost type player in final 23..Instead i will use Van dijk as striker by introducing a New CB in to final 10 minutes when goals needed..Considering the talents of Ake,Van Dijk and Deligt theyare not second to kuyt type,Dost type strikers..its fact..

  20. Guys,

    I watched a replay and have to take my words back regarding Tete. I think he did well. There was a lot of pressure on him as midfield did not play as compact as they did against France. I think Wijnaldum and De Jong could have done better job whereas De Roon again showed very solid performance. I start really liking him. In general, taking into account, weak performance of our midfield, defense did very good job. I have seen beautiful intercepts by all four members of our defense. Very happy about mental strength of our Oranje! Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

    1. Happy Thanksgiving Bro!
      Unbelievable how we survived this game. Maybe luck (which we have scarcely had in the past) is coming to us. Can’t stop watching VVD goal. This is one of the best all around players in the world right now.
      First german goal very similar to the one Mexico scored in 2014 in the WC against us.
      We were so lucky today that basically injuries helped us. I strongly believe that without L deJong and also Vilhena we wouldn’t come back to this game. He put pressure with his height and strength on the german defense which we didn’t have with just Depay and Promes upfront. Vilhena gave us speed and aggressiveness in midfield.
      Good times to be a Dutch fan after such long suffering.

  21. Just watched the game. Not easy to avoid the score all day, but I don’t like watching while knowing the result.

    Agree with most things said above. The team looked like it played with a collective hangover from the France game. Tete and Promes were a step down from Bergweijn and Dumfries; Germany targeted Tete, both attacking him and letting mim have space on the ball. His play improved in the second half; but everyone’s did (see FDJ and De ligt). Promes I would have said had a poor game, and then he scored. Babel and Wijnaldum never looked like they had any legs. Thought Blind and De Roon were good, as was VVD (aside from goal), and Vilhena brought some energy.

    …but why quibble. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that if you have a team you follow forever, there are going to be lots more heartbreaks than wins, so I’m just going to enjoy the result, and leave any problems for another day. They came back from 2 down late to tie Germany, in Germany, and are now in the finals. What is not to love about the game, the team, the coach?!

  22. I’ve got no idea why Koeman had tete played instead of Dumfries

    This is not the type of games you would experienced your players at the back

    I can understand letting Promes play though

    How did dilrosun played can anyone tell me ? I had high hopes on him but it seems that was not the kind of debut he wanted ?

    1. Dumfries had recived some knocks vs France..May koeman wants an experienced Tete in an away match…or he he was giving playing time for Tete as he is not regular in his club..
      Dilrosun time will come,Daishwan Redan will be be soon added before Kluivert and Diloruson..
      This Redan is type of Depay…only player who can play Depay role if Depay injured..
      Vilhena had double lungs He,Virgil,Blind, and Luuk lead when others tired…they lead us to draw…
      We didnt had a great game..only thing i didnt liked was Cillessen blunder..He could have done better with Goals….that puts whole team i hate it..

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