Oranje bounces back strongly

The mood in the Oranje camp was not that bad, apparently. The mood amongst the Dutch media, analists, pundits and fans was. The abysmal performance against Austria stung, and it stung hard! Of course, Joey Veerman was the pantomime villain and some journalists even went as far to say Veerman would never wear the orange jersey again!

Koeman kept it cool, protected his players and vowed to work hard to regain the sympathy of the fans. Gakpo said it well in a presser: “We let the nation down”.

Romania was – on paper – a welcome opponent to play away the hungover. But a lot of people were skeptical and feared the worst. What would have happened if Romania would have ousted Oranje? The end of Koeman of course and two more years of chagrin and negativity. An a big strike through the dreams of oldies like Van Dijk, Wijnaldum and Blind.

But Koeman and Co have done their homework and the players straightened their backs. Romania didn’t play as defensively as shared in an earlier blog post. They tried to emulate what Austria did but Oranje kept their cool and allowed the Romanians to huff and puff. And then Gakpo was found: 1-0.

The Liverpool winger is becoming more and more the man of the moment for Oranje. He almost had four goals, but that second one for him in the match was chalked off for offside.

Koeman surprised with Bergwijn in de line up, but it’s clear in hindsight why he picked him. A master stroke, really. The reason is: the box in midfield. Koeman wants four midfielders to form a square and as Romania only had one holding mid anchoring their midfield, this meant he was constantly needing to decide who to go with. The result was usually that Dumfries ended up as right winger, as Bergwijn joined Xavi in midfield as a second 10. And boy did it work.

If we would have been a tad more aggressive on the right flank, Dumfries and Bergwijn could have had several runs through on goal, but tardiness allowed the Romanians last ditch tackles. These resulted in corners galore but as we all know, it’s not easy to score from a corner kick. Only 4% of all corners which are hit in to the box results in a direct goal. Van Dijk would be close though, with a header on the post.

This is how the first goal came to be and it demonstrates why Bergwijn was used as he was.

Bergwijn and Simons crowding out the holding mid. Simons looks for the right back who decides to mark the RB Leipzig man, giving Gakpo the space on the left (and Dumfries on the right). Romania was constantly struggling with this approach and for this reason Bergwijn was in the team, allowing Dumfries (and Gakpo) to shine on the wings.

The only criticism you can have on this Oranje team is, that it took way too long for the second goal to be scored. We had so many chances: Memphis, Reijnders, Simons, Dumfries, Gakpo, we could have scored 4 goals before half time. Despite this, we never really got in trouble and we ended up scoring a special second goal, when tightrope walking Gakpo dribbled on the byline and allowed Malen a tap in.

The former Arsenal youth product scored his second in the extra time, after a Romania corner kick and a great run and pass by one of the best on the day, Xavi Simons.

This line up worked well. Reijnders and Schouten were imperial in midfield. Their statistics are amazing.

Xavi was top in the pockets and a constant threat. Gakpo, well, what can you say. A threat, direct to goal, great skills and potentially the topscorer of the tournament. Dumfries and De Vrij played ever so well while the ever reliable Ake played how he has been playing for years now. Unassuming perfection.

I’m not saying this line up should from now on be The Line Up. Our squad is strong and we can mix it up in relation to form, fitness and opponent. We still have the likes of Brobbey, Frimpong, Zirkzee and Van der Van waiting in the wings.

Koeman also allowed Veerman another turn as a sub, and the maligned midfielder almost scored! Not using Veerman anymore means you could probably best send him home. Class from Koeman to pick him up and use him as he does have special skills.

Turkey is next up, on Saturday, and Orkun Kokcu (ex Feyenoord) will be suspended for the match.

We’ll do a deep dive into Turkey later in the week.

Rest me to thank the ones who so graciously and generously helped me out with a nice donation. This is really appreciated guys, you know who you are!

If you haven’t been able to drop some digits, please use this link to contribute to the blog with more than words…


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  1. Julian:

    You asked for my thoughts and I was waiting for the appropriate time to speak up (which normally is not a problem for me). I love Ronald! He has my full support, and in this match, as Jan outlines above, he made many good decisions! In the past, he sometimes has tried to keep things from me, even when we were neighbors. But I knew then, and I know even better now!

    Ronald, yesterday against Romania was the first glimpse we have seen of Dutch football for quite some time. So thank you! There was beauty and movement and there was enjoyment by the players and spectators. But sometimes the timing was a little off. As I like to say, there is only one moment in which you can arrive on time. Otherwise you are either too early or too late.

    And the finishing! I used to say that I was six times better than modern players because I could score with all three parts of each foot. Ronald, you were an excellent striker of the ball and scored many fantastic goals. The time has come for you to get out, lace up your boots and demonstrate to your players how it is done. Communicate your personal goal-scoring mentality, your confidence, to them. Because as I say, you cannot score if you do not shoot (I’m looking at you, Xavi, Steven, Jerdy and Denzel)! And you also cannot score if you miss the goal altogether (are you listening Memphis, Tijjani, Nathan, Virgil, Stefan and Joey?). Only Cody and somewhat less Donyell do this, and guess who gets the goals? I assure you, more goals will be needed to win this tournament, so shoot to score! Your biggest rivals are exiting these Euros one by one, so I say go for it and take your chances! And in the meantime, everyone kick the ball hard at Xavi Simons’ left foot until someday maybe it will occur to him to use it…

    Veel succes,


    1. Haha! Thanks for sharing! I love that they’re all wearing the current jersey (probably because their own vintage jerseys don’t have a chance of fitting anymore) 🤣

  2. Hendrik, so good to hear from you from the great beyond =|

    And it’s so nice of you to finally weigh in with your thoughts after a positive result. Where were you when Oranje were in disarray? But I know it’s your nature to take credit when things go well and then recede like Homer Simpson into the bushes when the going gets tough.

    I, on the other hand, stand tall against adversity and give as well as I get. As Jan noted, my kloten are highly regarded. Your beloved Messi criticizes me and my team. I tell him the truth about him and his team. If Messi played for me, he would have three World Cups by now. And it is not as if he plays for Venezuela. He is surrounded by Argentine talent but until recently has achieved nothing internationally, while his countrymen like Dybala, Icardi, etc. go unutilized because “his highness” prefers lesser players who cater to him. He had similar issues in the past with Zlatan, with David Villa, with anyone who threatened him or his preferred role. Everyone must move for Messi… Now who does that sound like?

  3. Oh Aloysius, what are you on about now? I have been spending time up here with Apostle Paul recently and he says whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things! Let’s focus on the positive and not dwell on the negative.

    The difference between us is that you are theoretical and I am pragmatic, even though everyone thinks the opposite about us. That and my vision has always been that of a player, a protagonist. My goal as a manager was to empower the players and give them principles to use, to help them write their story. I want them thinking for themselves!

    Your vision has been to empower the collective and to dictate the structure. You want to do the thinking yourself. You’re telling your own story with the players as your characters.

    But let’s be positive! Rejoice in Holland’s performance this week. I love for all people to enjoy watching football and to play football with joy! Get behind Koeman and these boys! Let’s see what they can achieve, what story they will write!

  4. Jan, I also want to urge caution to Ronald. Continuity is important, but your best eleven for one opponent may not be your best eleven for the next.

    As my friend Roberto found out, Fellaini and Chadli may save you against Japan, but that does not mean they should start next over Mertens and Carrasco vs Brazil, especially if they limit the way you can play.

    All Dutch players can play Dutch football if they are allowed to (maybe even Dumfries)…

    1. Dear Hendrik,

      Unlike Aloysius, I am actually very pleased to hear from you and truly benefit from your thoughtful commentary. And I agree that the Romania match was a success for Koeman. But now you suggest that he should not maintain the same elftal for Turkey? And you use for this assertion the example of Martinez’s Belgium, who actually defeated Brazil with Fellaini and Chadli in the line-up? I’m confused…

      But you’ve always been a little confusing to me. Dating back to our days both as opposing players, and then when you left me in a difficult predicament in 1994 because of your tracksuit preferences… Yet, that worked out fairly well for me in the end and allowed me to demonstrate my mettle as an international manager. So thank you for that, I guess…

      Anyway, having previously managed in Turkey at Fenerbahce, I have some perspective and expertise with Turkish football, and will try to provide my own tactical analysis of the upcoming match soon. Until then, I am off to Grote Knip for a dip. Haha! The heat here in the summer is more intense than I expected and I initially developed a severe farmer’s tan. But now I am running training sessions shirtless, so the only tan lines I have are from my whistle!

      Tot ziens!


      1. Nicolaas,

        I think you miss my point, so I will try to explain better. I have been speaking lately to an American judge named Oliver Holmes. He once famously said “Great cases, like hard cases, make bad law.” By this he means the correct solution for all situations is not determined by relying on a prior response to an extreme situation. And the same is so in football.

        A few years ago at the World Cup in Russia, Roberto was the Belgium manager and he brought in Fellaini and Chadli as substitutes in their knockout match against Japan. Mertens and Carrasco had not stood out against the small and skillful Japanese team, and Japan led 2-0. But when Fellaini and Chadli were inserted, their disparities changed the match, and both scored key goals leading Belgium to victory 3-2. So in the quarterfinals, against Brazil, rather than return to his traditional approach (which played to his squad’s strengths), Roberto persisted with Fellaini and Chadli and was rewarded with another victory. But with that new composition, his team began to play a different style and looked to attack in different areas and through different pathways. And so, in the semi-finals vs France, the manager chose again to “dance with who brought you”, but Belgium were not able to wrest control of the match. Chadli was erratic in his crossing and Fellaini, as Jan would say, was dissonant to possession. As a result, France — who did not want the ball — was still able to dominate the midfield and control the match. Mertens and Carrasco were brought on late but Martinez’s positive system of play had been lost and could not be regained. France prevailed and went on to win the World Cup.

        So the point I am making is this – Koeman was finally able to play Dutch football against Romania. Why was this so? As Jan suggests, was it creating the “box” with Bergwijn? The return of Dumfries and his dominance of the right flank? Reijnders’ omnipresent quality? Or maybe how Romania approached the match and their qualities? Absent injury, it will be very tempting for Ronald to trot out the same eleven players again to face Turkey, who are in some ways similar to Romania, but in some ways very different. But Ronald must not get caught in this trap. Each match and opponent is different, but the principles you play with remain the same. He must find the right dynamic to control the match to have success. And he must continue and build on the momentum he has gained but not be so tied to just one set of players to implement it just because they succeeded in the prior match.

        I have my own ideas, but let’s see what he comes up with.

  5. General observations so far for this tournament:

    The continuing rise of Gapko in this team. I hope he can sustain his growth both for club and country. I see more confidence in him. I hope he transitions into a true striker from left wing. Kinda like Van Persie. or maybe even an attacking mid-fielder. But right now, he is young, he has speed and dribbling skills, so he can play on the wing.

    Reijnders looks amazing with his pin point smooth passes, spraying them left and right and straight forward. This kid has a lot of stamina and I hope he gets better. I can see him playing great when FDJ gets back. Only thing I would say is that he needs to shoot the ball on goal when he is in a position to do so.

    Verbruggen at 21 is this good? Already in the Premier League! Impressive so far. A few mistakes in the Austria game. But I hope this is our next Van der Sar.

    Good job to…
    Ake, De Vrij, Malen (especially in the last game vs Romania)

    A bit disappointed in:
    Memphis. He looks more energized but still missing some clear chances. At this stage in his career, his accuracy should be at his best, to make up for his eventual loss in physical skills as he ages.

    Simons: I hope he also takes his chances. The better this team gets, competition will be fierce. He needs to contribute more, be more accurate, be more involved, step up to the moment.

    Van Dijk: Maybe he’s starting to slip a bit. He still has his leadership and calmness. But he needs to be more alert and react faster.

    Can’t wait to see:
    Zikzee, Frimpong, in the future. At this point in the tournament, barring an injury or a rout, I am not sure we will see Zikzee. Frimpong may be an option for Koeman for tactical adjustments

    That’s my take so far. I hope we can take care of Turkey. They have gotten much better than the last time I remember we played them. But I do feel like if we are disciplined in defense, and finish the chances we create, we can get past them. It would be a great accomplishment if we can make the Semis. Of course, the goal is to win out right, but if we reach the Semis, I would be confident that this team is showing growth, and right on track for WC 2026.

    1. Well said. I personally don’t think Memphis disappoints much. For a guy who has had issues with injuries and only limited playing time, he is giving his all. His Austria goal was a very good goal skill wise. The control, while jumping up and not handling it and then pushing it into the top corner. 90% of the players yank that ball into row Z I think.

      His work rate is amazing and he didn’t miss many sitters. Dumfries had a square pass for him versus Romania, but way to soft and the defender slided in and blocked it. That low free kick against Romania was also special and deserving of a goal.

      I think Memphis is like Gullit in 1988. Big name star, but not in top form so like Gullit, he’s working for the team so others (Van Basten and now Gakpo) can shine.

  6. a look at the transfermarket, Tijjani Noslin officially joins Lazio. keep a tabs on this guy next season. versatile forward and can play anywhere on top.

  7. I definitely dont want to sound negative here and alot comments has come that team improved and were better than from previous games.

    lets not ignore some facts or sweep it under the carpet for the sake of . Romania played hard but were no match for the Dutch. neither they had the intensity of Austria or to that of France.

    whats important is the team rises and show the same consistency when it matters most.

  8. Given my low expectations coming into this tournament and our most recent quality performance against Romania, I’m pretty pleased with what we’ve been able to accomplish so far, and I’m optimistic about our prospects going forward. All that, of course, could change dramatically if we don’t show up against Turkey, as we have a real opportunity here to get to the final.

    Here my player grades so far. I’ve grouped the players into grade levels rather than assess them individually.

    A = Very pleased with their performance so far, feel like they are performing at or near their top level, and actively want them in the starting lineup for each match:

    De Vrij

    B = Have generally gotten the job done, but not performed to their top level, and don’t feel like they should be necessarily be an automatic starter. In other words, looking for something more from them:

    Van de Ven

    C = Have been in average form, and not played up to their ability yet. If they could step up their performance, it would be huge for the team, but not confident that we’re going to see it:

    Van Dijk

    D = Not up to par, should not be used going forward except in an emergency

    No one

    I = Incomplete. Have not participated enough to receive a full grade yet:

    De Ligt

    Gakpo is my player of the tournament so far — He’s been a star! Reinders and Verbruggen have been revelations and have a bright future, and Ake and de Vrij have been there for us time and time again. If we could get the rest of the squad to this level, we could definitely win the whole thing!

  9. Nicolaas, when did you last manage in Istanbul, 1989? Was there a player in the Crescent Star squad even born when you were at Fener? And you must realize that the nation itself has changed its name since then — it is now Türkiye — you have to add a “yeah?” at the end! It all sounds very millennial now.

    And besides, your tactics were already outdated the day you began as a manager at Pijnacker and have not evolved since. Although I hear you’ve recently innovated a new formation, the W-M! Hahaha!

    Finally, when we joined this forum, in order to remain anonymous, we all agreed to use our given first names. But yet you have instead used your middle name which creates further confusion. Sort of like your substitutions, Dirk 🤣🤣🤣

    So let’s hear your analysis on Türkiye. What have you got for us? Inquiring Dutch minds want to know…

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