Oranje does job half

The task was clear. No room for discussion: a win and lots and lots of goals. Because goal difference is next in line if countries finish level at points. Then it’s number of goals scored and lastly it’s the results between said countries.

Oranje only did half the job. But not for lack of trying. Oranje had around 35 attempts and only scored twice. Tally off two as these were headed on the bar and the rest was blocked by a sublime goalie, a heel, knee or elbow… A frustrating evening for a team bolstered by the presence of 5,000 fans. Who loved everything they saw.

Oranje walked off the pitch while being applauded by the grateful fans, grateful for the match and for the fact they could be there. The team got the message. They needed to attack. And attack they did, but the canons weren’t aimed properly, with Memphis in particular more and more frustrated if he was again thwarted by the courageous Latvians.

The Dutch had 96 touches in the Latvian box, that is a record from the start date Opta started to tally these things, in 2013. The previous record was 51 (!) touches, against Estonia.

Did we give most if not all of the players a low mark against the Turks, this time around all players got a decent rating, after the game. They played fresh and created chances, but the goal tally was a disappointment. Overall, Steven Berghuis – scoring his first goal in 5 years for Oranje, after 25 attempts on goal, Mathijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong were awarded the highest rates.

A further analysis of the game gives us some interesting insights. Frank de Boer’s name is said to be synonymous with square and back passes: “knitting”, as we call it. De Boer takes a stance against that, and justly so. “We have has a high pace of circulation in the past games and a quick pass forwards. We have Blind and Frenkie in key roles and their biggest strength is the vision and forward pass. In the Turkey match, we played a back pass to Krul, our first, in the 83rd minute!”

Which is logical, as this photo above shows what the second half vs Turkey looked like. Turkey had 11 players behind the ball, on their own half protecting their lead. To break open an opponent like this, you sometimes need to knit the ball from left to right and back again, just to spot that moment of lack of concentration. It may seem like knitting, but it’s basically prowling. Under Koeman, for instance, 25% of all the passes Oranje played, were between the two centre halves. That is a lot.

A difference with the Koeman Oranje is that under De Boer, vs Latvia, the flanks became important. Using Luuk de Jong as target man will further emphasize this.

This opportunity for Klaassen in the 6th minute is a typical example of the sort of football Oranje plays, using the wide men and the half spaces for penetration.

Dumfries and Berghuis are on the right flank. Wijnaldum pops up in the half space and makes a darting run deep. The only real option he has now is to chip the ball in, which he did. This almost resulted in a goal.

A similar example in the second half. Wijndal and Dumfries will stay a bit more inside when the team is building up, but in the final third they both play very wide, allowing the left and right wingers (Memphis and Berghuis) to move inside. In this case, it’s clear what is coming: a cross from the right.

Instead of knitting football, we can call this casino football. The difficulty to get it right is high. You can cross balls in or use the half spaces, but the final ball usually ends up in a melee of legs and players. It’s actually a turn around situation that gifts us the first goal. Memphis repossesses the ball, De Jong pulls several opponents in with his run and Dumfries makes a dummy run to give Berghuis the space to come inside and use his wand of a left foot. Luuk de Jong scored from a corner in the second half with a good header. As Frank de Boer called it: A text book header.

This Latvia had drawn twice against the Far Oer Islands and lost at Malta. So goals were bound to come. And we only had one iffy situation where they could have broken 3 v 2 as our full backs were both on their bike forward, but Wijnaldum snuffed out the danger.

There was one more opportunity with a long ball but the speed of Wijndal and a perfectly timed tackle were enough to stop the threat.

When De Boer was asked what would have been a more proper score for this match, he said: “That is easy. We should have scored 8 goals or so. We know the goal difference can be key and we shot ourselves a bit in the foot. But the lads don’t head the ball on the cross bar on purpose, of course.” De Boer was positive, otherwise: “I did enjoy watching them, we had energy, we were constantly threatening but it was also frustrating to see that the ball simply would want to go in… I did think the one attack was even better than the next. We went left, then right and through the middle. But we were unlucky. Their goalie played ever so well or a defender helped out. I can’t remember when we were this dominant last against a nation like Latvia.”

Both Memphis and Wijnaldum were subbed by the coach and both were not too pleased. “I can understand that. It was frustrating for them as they wanted to score more goals and felt they could. But we are not doing this with 11 players. We have 24 capable lads and they are all part of this process and deserve a chance. It’s a team process. And Wijnaldum has played a lot of games for Liverpool and I wanted him to take a rest.”

Next up Gibraltar. The task again, is clear. Three points and lots of goals!

You can expect the following line up:


Dumfries – De Ligt – Frenkie – Blind

Klaassen – Wijnaldum – Van de Beek – Gravenberch

Berghuis – Luuk de Jong – Memphis

Result: 1-0, Ryan Babel (sub) scores in the 92nd minute.

Just kidding, it will be more than 5 goals of course, with Luuk de Jong and this time also Memphis on the score sheet.

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  1. Turkey’s result against Norway was great for us. 1, it shows that they’re a top team, to go and thrash Norway in Norway. 2, Because now if we’re playing for 2nd, we only need a draw in Amsterdam against Turkey to be ahead of them.

    I don’t understand all this hatred towards FDB, I honestly don’t think Peter Bosz or whoever would be doing much better. They’d have the same selection of players to choose from and would be in the same predicament.

    1. @derek YOU DIDNT WATCH norway game..i cannot see beating norway with dumbfry,shitboer,winjdaL,DE ROON..krul leakage and cowardious coach.. you should watch game at least..

      1. I did watch the game actually. I just also remember a time when van Basten had Holland scraping out 1-0 wins with Luxembourg and 1-1 draws with Bulgaria and 1-0 wins with Slovenia and failing to beat Romania. And he did okay. The fact of the matter is that it takes time to do this job. van Marwijk inherited a pretty strong generation of players so his job was fairly easy, he had a star in every role. FDB does not have that. He’s dealing with a transition of old players out and young players in.

        1. Norway will rectify their mistake vs NT…thats makes hard life for us…i hope you get that..
          Now we are forced to beat Norway as well,i dont us to go to play off,its fire…
          Vanbasten was WINNING …thats okay…not loosing and dropping easy points….
          I DONT UNDERSTAND the idocy of FDB he wants luuk (okay fine)…For luuk you need pinpoint crosses which can only be delivered by Jetro williams and kasrdorp and heis blind for that…
          if he wants to win a game he must forget De roon…our wing backs are pathetic..thats not adressed..
          dropping points vs Turkey was unnecessary…i will blame FDB for playing De roon,winjdal and krul….these 3 players made us in to that and FDb is responsible for that..

          1. transistion????what????are u on meth???
            transition is done by koeman…only babel ,strootman,D roon hanging on,…FDb can easily remove them if he wants to.

  2. @Emmanual, Different people watch games and dreaw different conclusions. Watching the Norway-Turkey match, I thought Norway looked like they could present some danger going forward, but their defense was slow and not well-organized. The goalkeeper was not good; he was replaced at ht, if that tells you anything. Turkey’s third goal was a great strike, (not unlike Berghuis’—but better). The first two goals should have been prevented, both by the defense and the GK.

    It is way too soon to give the group to Turkey. Still 8 games to play. The game in Istanbul was a horror show; so many things went wrong (or right if you are a Turkish fan.) Games like that happen.
    Re De Boer. I didn’t love some of the selections for Turkey—Tete and Berghuis for example. But I think the team the Dutch put on the field was good enough to win that game.

    My concern with DeBoer is that he has been the coach for six (7?) games now, and the team has yet to play a game where they look like they jelled. Regardless of whether he is giving the right instructions, to date he has not gotten the best out of the team. Perhaps he will, but time is running short. The early September games are of huge importance. Assuming he is not fired before the Euros, he’ll have the Euro’s to really put his stamp on the team—in terms of tactics, selection and preparation. No excuses.

  3. This I found interesting.

    In Holland, Rene van der Gijp is one of the cynical/satirical analysts who can be completely surgical with his comments.

    The whole nation switched on, Friday evening, to hear his comments about the Turkey loss. The question came from the host: “Well…. here we go! Rene, do you want to start?”

    And Rene said: “You will probably tell me to pack my things and go home after what I have to say…”

    And he continued:

    “Because I didn’t think they were bad at all. I’m sorry. The first 15 minutes or so, they were playing well and played Turkey off the pitch. With intensity and thrust. I was waiting for that first goal. But then, every chance Turkey got ended up in the net!! They get the deflection. They get the penalty. We didn’t. Every fluke shot was a goal!”

    “And then I remembered… in my career, 12 years at top level… you play these games at times. I can remember 3 of them in my life, where nothing, but absolutely nothing goes your way. And the opponent gets all the luck. It happens. Don’t worry too much about it. Don’t turn it into something it isn’t. They were fine and I think they’ll qualify. Just an incident, that’s all.”

    1. @Jan,

      This makes me think about in a different way now and give ma a slightly more positive feeling, I will hope Van Der GIjp is right and I hope to see oranje destroying turkey in September!!! We can’t afford to see another World Cup without oranje!!

    2. Thanks for sharing this, Jan. Would never have been on my radar otherwise. That’s what keeps me coming back here, in spite of the endlessly frustrating posts from Tiju and Wilson (per your post farther down)

  4. @Jan

    From the previous post.

    My expectation has always been to see a GOOD rotation in the team so that the players can be pushed and at the same time a good depth can materialize. We have touched on this many times and with respect to how other nations have been able to recover from an all time low with in a short time span while NT drag on with handful of players only to decline within short intervals.

    The argument of NT being a small country and not having a broad spectrum of players is just an understatement considering this time around there are technical players like El Ghazi,Danjuma,Karsdorp,weghorst schouten, who could have injected more thrust into the team given the form they are in. What form was VDBeek,Bergwijn, Babel,tete, in that got them selected?
    It was just a benefit of doubt that they received for being capped at NT. Now this is where you point the finger and say why no benefit of doubt for those who were in good form. Would they have made the difference? Big time regardless of win or loss. The whole selection should have been centred around euros and the lativa and Gibraltar game to test new players. Even if they would have lost with B Squad, what difference it would have made. They eventually lost with the A squad and now you have players like berghuis going to euros who scores super goals vs big teams like lativa and with smaller teams suffocates and is depicted to being a special player.

    On top of this as usual there were some players called up in the extended squad just to makes numbers, headlines and later to be trimmed off from the squad and not to add any weight especially in making selection more complex or giving head ache to FDB during selection.veltman was already a coverup for both RCB and RB which just makes St Juste pre selection a bogus one. Strootman (worn out), Vilhnea and Promes as well when they were never going to be considered. How is this suppose to create that healthy competitive environment within the team and increase the level of competency.There will never be much devevelopment in the team if this is not implemented and no matter who comes and goes, the up,down up and down trajectory within short intervels will continue

    This is where it all boils down to. Is this negativity?

    You are like blowing the trumphet after the lativa win as if the team has stepped up to another level. Do you think this team will get to have 25 attempts at goal and have 96 touches inside the box in euros or at WC. I really cant understand what you are trying to prove here when it was certain what the outcome will of the lativa game and will be vs Gibraltar.

    1. @Wilson

      Your expectation was to see good rotation. My expectation was to see a coach gel a team together. Find the best players for the job. The depth need to be realised at clubs. The NT is not a development or experimental team.

      We may well have good players outside the squad popping up but if I go back in history, which I would gladly do, we have seen so many names being mentioned by you and others… so many can’t be all tested and tried and many of these never made it to the level where they would need to be.

      I’ve seen names like Ramselaar, Toornstra, van Ginkel, Zivkovic, El Ghazi, Bazoer, Hatenboer, Veerman… Some of these never really made it big.

      The coaches and scouts judge players in their team performances and are judged on more than you do, most likely. The average fan looks at where the ball is. To judge a player you need to watch him off the ball. His positioning. His focus. His workrate. You need to assess his character, his mental strength, etc.

      You seem to think you can judge this better than these experts. Why?

      Any NT coach struggles with players who delivered for the NT but then suddenly they’re out of favour with their club. What do you do? most NT coaches loath changing the squad to often. Has to do with patterns and the dynamics in the squad. Again, coaches are man-managers and you must accept that they understand this better than you (also culturally).

      Strootman is doing pretty good at Genoa, actually. Veltman and St Juste were covers for RB and RCB. We play 3 games. I think there is something to say for it.

      And no, this is not negativity. This is merely your opinion.

      What is negativity, is that you watch a game for 90 minutes and then all you utter are emotional garbs about how the coach needs to be fired. That is so… unintelligent.

      My role here is that of a fan and of an analyst. I try to write an objective piece (as much as I can) on what I see and I take into account circumstances and try to use empathy.

      Positive criticism being more powerful than hate speak. You and Tiju like to attack the person.

      Try and enjoy the effort, try to look for positives, try to find ways to look at things through the eyes of a player or coach.

      As for your last comments, about the stats I mentioned. This is part of my job as post author. I discuss the game and I mention stats. They were relevant, because we only scored twice! But had 35 attempts. Me thinks that is relevant to mention.

      I’m not blowing any trumpet. I am pointing out a problem.

      I am not trying to prove anything. I have the feeling you don’t “get” what I write.

  5. Sorry, I don’t buy into this optimism. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different result.

    We get a coach that failed everywhere and now he come here and did a shitty job so far. But we expect thing that will get better?

    I actually feel positive about the quality of players that we have. Our CBs are stacked, we have VVD, De Ligt, De Vrij, Ake and then multiple new CBs are knocking on the door, Botman, Struijk and Timber. We have RB options: Karsdorp, Dumfries, Hateboer and Rensch. Midfield have world class De Jong and other options: Wijnaldum, Klaassen, Gravenberch, De Roon, schouten. Upfront we have Depay and Weghorst, Luuk is decent substitute also. We have weakness in goalie, LB and wingers but that almost apply to every team. A good coach can make this team competitive again.

    1. I again agree with you Kevin. This coach has had a disaster of a career at club level. Someone with self respect (read San Marco) would have recognized his inability to be a high level coach and would have taken another direction. Van Basten was in financial difficulty and still when realized that he couldn’t get the best out of his players, HE QUIT the NT. Meet deBoer aka MR. NOMAD who has failed so miserably in Italy and England and didn’t last even in MLS but who asks for the right amount of $ and KNVB thinks they hit 777 on slot machine. Van Gijp rightfully says Turkey game was weird but second game against Latvia is nothing to be proud of. You hit the goal 35 times and score only twice. Nothing to be proud of. This is a failure in my view. Either the players suck or the coach doesn’t know how to organize his team. We can’t hide behind luck anymore. One more false step (eg. one loss) and we’re out for sure. We all spend so much time here because we love orange and that’s wjy we scream when we see that some things just don’t make sense just like in INSANITY.

      1. Balkan, you have proximity syndrome, as they call it :-). It means you remember the more recent things more than things previous to that.

        So here is a coach who has had a 10 year coaching career. In this career he won 6 trophies. Basically more than 1 trophy every second year. He coached 4 clubls. He was fired twice and parted ways mutually twice.

        This is not the CV of a disaster. I am sorry.

        A certain Frank Rijkaard got relegated with Sparta. And lost abysmally with Oranje in 2000 vs Italy. Do we call his career a disaster?

        Frank at Inter simply didn’t have a chance. Two other coaches got sacrificed before Conte finally was able to turn Inter around. No disgrace there.

        At Crystal Palace, Frank was called in to change the football culture of the club. I saw all his matches. He was not helped by the some forces in the club and had a highly unlucky last match, in which they played really well but the opponent smashed and grab the win.

        He was treated badly at Palace I think.

        His MLS stint was not a disaster.

        You are being to harsh on this guy.

        1. so then where you think he will succeed?. only at Ajax. frank is just another of those coaches that will only thrive if he inherits a team with competent players like he had at Ajax during his tenure. he is not a coach who can build from scratch bottom.

        2. Jan, in the end I hope I am all wrong about FDB and I won’t be ashamed to eat my words when I am proven wrong. It’s just that I have endured so much pain with NT since the early 80s. It would have been so easy if I were a fan of Germany or Italy 🙂

      2. Also, the 35 chances vs Latvia and “only 2 goal” comment… how is that De Boer’s fault :-). He was able to field a team that created 35 attempts. Not bad right? But Frank can’t convert the chances mate…

        1. As if he did not pick those players? He did not pick the most clinical finisher and then he move the second most clinical finisher away from goal to use a bench player at Sevilla as his main forward.

    2. I wouldn’t say we are in weak in the LB area. Van Aanholt, Wijndal are decent options. Malacia is coming up. Haps is still an option (when fit) and Tonny Vilhena in a 5 – 3- 2.

      I also believe Stekelenburg and Cillesen are decent options. Bijlow is a top prospect coming through.

  6. Been digesting Jan’s two write-ups and everyone’s comments. I have a couple of thoughts. First, I agree with Jan’s and others’ comments in the other comment thread that this Oranje team is lacking a true on-field leader. It’s not that he doesn’t exist in this generation — it’s just that it’s Virgil. He is the team’s heart, soul, and vocal leader. So far, no one else in this generation can compare to him, not only in pure football terms, but in stature, leadership, presence. Second, it is clear that Jan understands much better than the majority of commenters here what is involved in convening and deploying a national team. Very little prep time, no control over how club managers manage the talent you then have to try to shape into a functioning football team, the unpredictability of how people rise to the occasion or shrink under the spotlight of playing for their country, etc. Now throw in COVID-related distortions to normal travel/work/life patterns, and, well, I extend a lot of grace to the players and coaches who have to perform for all of us, and I will continue focusing on the positive and taking my cues from the Jans/De Gijps/etc.’s of the world versus those of you whose comments have an unnecessary, unconstrucitve, and unearned harshness to them.

    1. all the teams are going through the phases as What you are saying. the only difference is these teams have maintained a good continuity and they have players who can make it count on any given day,individually

      1. So Spain beat Greece 5-0? Germany did a great job after the World Cup? France beat Ukraine with double figures? Italy didn’t go to the World Cup 2018 either, if I am not mistaken…

        1. what is your point here? just because spain drew with Greece and NT lost to Turkey, they are in the same boat.

          good you brought this up because teams like you mentioned France, Spain, Germany, even England are still putting the final touches to team by testing new players or other players who are back in form from the past. they are using this games to get out the best squad possible aimed at euros.

          Im not even sure if the current NT will be able to beat Greece whom under John van ‘t Schip are thriving with mix of young and old contingent playing out of Europe similar to turkey

          1. I’m responding to your comment how other nations have consistent results. They don’t.

    2. All countries have gone through challenges caused by COVID-19. I do not think this can be used as an excuse. Dutch national team showed very low efficiency. If you do not score, you will be scored against. After Koeman’s departure the team have deteriorated. We can all try to keep certain level of optimism but the team is very mediocre with low esteem and desire to aim higher.

      1. Maybe you don’t have to label it an ‘excuse’, but I think it makes sense to consider it as a factor. Spain not only drew against Greece but were lucky to have even had a draw against GEORGIA let alone deserve their stoppage time win in that game. France ties Ukraine and Ronaldo and Portugal beat Azerbaijan 1-0.

        There’s obviously a lot involved in bringing national teams together with short prep, and like everything else, all of the stresses and restrictions with Covid probably exacerbate the problem.

        All that is to say, there a factors at play beyond Frank de Boer. Here’s hoping for good things from Oranje tomorrow. Hup Hup!

    3. Agreed, Robin.
      I hadn’t thought of it until I read your comment, but I recall seeing video of Virgil’s on field directing of the action all over the pitch. That’s so much more than just missing his defensive presence. Wijnaldum and Frenkie both seem quite quiet compared to Virgil and Memphis, for another, is not that kind of leader. The Big Voice is missing, and that would certainly make a big difference to this team.

  7. My question to the group would be that if Frank de Boer is this abomination of a coach, when was the last dutch coach that you would say was quality?

    Guus Hiddink had his struggles with Holland in the past. Dropping points to Norway and Belarus is 1996 qualies, and only picking up 1 point against Czech Republic among a string of friendly losses. He then only picked up 1 point home and away to Turkey in 1998 qualies before leading one of the best Dutch performances in recent history at the final tournament.

    Frank Rijkaard went the entire 1999 year without winning a single match, 9 draws and 2 losses to start his tenure.

    Van Gaal famously dropped points to Turkey, Ireland and Portugal in WC Qualifying to bounce Holland from the tournament.

    Dick Advocaat only picked up 1 point against Czech in the 2004 qualies. I can only imagine how this group would have reacted when Holland lost in Scotland for the 2004 playoff.

    van Basten would have been a favourite around here. Got rid of van Nistelrooij, Seedorf and van Bommel to throw in some kids, and only managed an 8-2-2 record with 15 goals in 12 games against what could have been the weakest European qualifying group in history. 0 goals against Romania in 2 games, 2 against Luxembourg in 2 games.

    I suppose van Marwijk’s results were successful, but after that Blind and Hiddink again.

    Even the famous Rinus Michels. He guided Holland to a world cup final, revolutionized the sport. Then took a talented team with van Basten and the lot and failed to qualify for the 1986 world cup, before leading them to Euro 88. In that 1984-85 period would we have been blasting Michels for his work with the National team?

    So would anyone on here say that any of Holland’s managers in the past 25 years have been good besides van Marwijk? Also keep in mind that van Marwijk inherited a very strong generation of players.

    1. @Derek…LVG didnt dropped points to turkey for WCQ2002…please get the fact right….Ireland was stunning team so was protugal both teams wiped out Germany and england etc…Loosing to a stronger team is diagestable…
      Hiddink was wrong choice for 2016EC..then Blind ..both were eaqually crap…yes i do agree FDB is not worse than them…But only if FDB could take us to WC qatar…(thats still a dream)
      LAst 2 best coaches were koeman and LVG…they build and got the best out of NT….
      Peter bosz WILL DO BETTER than FDb,Blind,Hiddink,Fart van etc…
      Ten haag will bring us WC and EC….
      i will fear a sheep team who is lead by lion..not the other way arround…
      FDB is about apprecaition…if yopu get apreciation you might also get va call..

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