UPDATED: Oranje impresses vs Euro champs

My dear friends, I will again start this post with pointing out that a win in a friendly normally doesn’t mean that much. Coaches will usually look at the progress, the style of play and whether it becomes 1-0 or 0-1, well… But not in this case!

Ronald Koeman lost his first game in charge. The Oranje squad has been on a losing streak basically since 2014. The media have been all over the Dutch. Even last Saturday the English media called us a disgrace. And our loyal fans all need a win too.

So this game did matter. Against the reigning Euro champs. Against our angstgegner. Against the culprit of the Battle of Neuremberg.

I personally believe the criticism on Oranje after the England game was uncalled for. Yes, we weren’t too good going forward, but we played compact and didn’t give a lot away. England didn’t create much either, did they?

But when Koeman announced to make 7 or so changes, I was worried a bit for this game. We know Portugal does have quality, they have confidence, they all play for big clubs, etc etc.

Sure, Portugal didn’t play as disciplined as England. And Portugal didn’t play as if their lives depended on it. All true.

But no team wants to lose 0-3 in the prep run for a World Cup. Don’t forget, some Portuguese players will need to demonstrate to their coach that they’re deserving of a spot on the plane, in summer.

So Oranje impressed me. Given the changes, given the lack of Robben/Sneijder/Blind, given the loss on Friday… They impressed really muchly.

Our midfield was a completely unrecognisable. Van de Beek impressed with his composure, his runs, his smarts (he’s still a young kid!) and Propper has grown a lot in England. He used to be a bit lacklustre, complacent. Not any more. Turning into a beautiful playmaker. Elegant on the ball and with that visor aimed forward. Always looking for the opening.

Even Wijnaldum, much maligned in Oranje, did well. Mr Risk-free, in his position, tends to square the ball a lot and take a lot of touches- and I do hope he’ll improve in that area – but he was strong on the ball and worked well with the rest of the midfield.

Babel also showed why Koeman selected him. He’s gotten some criticism on this blog, from me as well, but he demonstrated his value with his runs. Weghorst and Dost can’t play like this. In what was a 3-5-2 set up, Memphis and Babel did what they had to do. They were a threat, they worked the space and held up play well.

Tete was decent, Vilhena could well be the right wing back on the left for us, and the three central defenders were excellent yet again.

For me, Cillesen also demonstrated to be the number one. He oozes composure. Has great reflexes and stopped some good attempts while his footwork is just much better than Zoet’s…

The goals were great, in particular Babel’s header on right winger for the occasion De Ligt’s firm cross, and Van Dijk’s goal was a tremendous training ground goal. Deep cross by Memphis, cushioned header De Ligt and composed movement and finish by our skipper.

There is hope, people. With the likes of Blind and Frenkie de Jong coming in and some time as well, we should be able to compete. To qualify. And once we qualified, to be that dark horse again.


A bit more in detail now. Oranje changed some details in the way they executed the tactics.

England was too smart for our midfield on Friday, with the deeplying Henderson dropping back and Sterling coming into midfield. Our 2 men midfield didn’t cope with that. Koeman basically tried three different systems vs England. The starting 3-4-3, the change to 5-3-2 to deal with aforementioned midfield issues and later in the game, chasing it with 4-3-3.

For this Portugal game, he went with a mix of 5-3-2 and 3-5-2, tilting the team based on where the ball was. If the Portuguese left back had the ball, Tete would push forward which would mean De Ligt would drop to the RB spot and Van Dijk would tuck in too, with Propper dropping deeper (and vice versa).

The three in midfield meant we always had a spare man and the two forwards had more space to operate, not as bound to the wing as per usual. In particular Memphis had space he could work in. When he’s a real winger, he’s confronted with double markers and lack of movement in front of him. Now he could find the gaps and drive forward.

It seems Strootman has to worry about his spot. The Brighton midfielder Propper played an almost perfect game, finding space and finding the forward pass when he could. His controlling play before our centre backs was excellent.

Ronald Koeman was pleased: “We worked hard on this in the past days. We knew these were the accents we had to change and we practised it well. It’s great to see this result. But, one game, it doesn’t mean we’re there. I wanted to use the four friendlies for our new system and we might find it sooner of course. Portugal did come back strong in the second half though. I think we were a bit disappointed that we couldn’t take advantage of the man-over situation in the second half.”

Justin Kluivert and Guus Til broke their duck for Oranje, as debutants. Kluivert had one good run to goal in which he wanted to offer Til the chance to score. If this had happened in an Ajax game, he would have cut inside and curl the ball in the top corner, no doubt.

Kluivert: “This is the happiest day of my life. I’m really proud, but I know I have a way to go if I want to be as good and important for Oranje as my dad. I’m on the way though and it tastes like more.”

The international media were highly positive about Oranje: “This Holland team looks like it is in good World Cup form.” The Portuguese media: “The only positive about the game is that we will go to the World Cup and Holland won’t.” The English media realised that two so-called EPL flops (Memphis and Babel) secured the win for Holland. The Belgium media: “What a demonstration! At times, Oranje dazzled like in days past and beats European Champs Portugal 0-3. C Ronaldo’s only contribution of the game was diving, crying to the ref and taking selfies with fans who came onto the pitch.”

The Italian press focused on Dutch defending: “C Ronaldo destroyed. He didn’t do anything and eventually got subbed. That tells the story.” The Spanish AS focused on the battle between Barca goalie Cillesen and Real forward Ronaldo: “The Dutch goalie kept his goal clean and was the man of the match for Oranje.”

The Dutch “experts” about the game.

1974 and 1978 phenomenon Arie Haan: “We have enough quality but we need to stay grounded. There is enough positives, like Van Dijk, a European top player. And De Ligt is probably the biggest defensive talent in Europe currently. And Donny van de Beek is going to be important for the team. Dynamic, great passer and dribbler and he can score as well.”

Denny Landzaat (ex Ajax and AZ): “The backline deserves the credits and kudos, but I want to mention Ryan Babel, with his speed and his ball control and hold up play. I’m sure the whole team will play better with a guy like him up top. And Jesper Cillesen is a strongholder too. Great feet and tremendous reflexes.”

Aad de Mos (ex Ajax, Mechelen and Anderlecht coach): “This win is not coincidental. Koeman is a shrewd tactician. And there’s enough quality in the squad. The back four is strong. I would definitely use Daley Blind as left back when he’s fit, but Davy Propper deserves the spot in midfield. Perfect two-footed. The only thing we lack is a good striker, but Steven Bergwijn could fill that role. I want to see him too.”

It seems Mathijs de Ligt missed out on C Ronaldo’s jersey. “I think seven others beat me to it. Not sure who has it.” In 5 years C Ronaldo will lament the fact he missed the chance to get De Ligt’s jersey….

You can watch the full game here. Download links in the comments on that link.

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  1. In my opinion many players solidified their spots in Oranje with this game. Form and injuries obviously can affect this over the next few months.

    Cillesen – For sure. He made a bunch of good saves, and he’ll most likely be looking for a club to start at soon.

    van Dijk/de Ligt/de Vrij – Should be our three CB’s. Ake did nothing wrong, but might be a bit immature at that level. He’ll be a very good quality substitute for any of these three.

    van de Beek/Propper – They automatically clicked an their was a big of magic between the two. van de Beek’s ability to hit long diagonals reminds me of the one de Boer hit to Bergkamp in that Argentina game.

    Memphis – Is our best talent at the moment, and I think these games give him more confidence which will be good for him.

    The wingbacks are still up for debate. We have so many options and it will probably depend more on club form than anything.

    Wijnaldum wasn’t bad, not at all, but it appeared to be a duo and single in midfield, rather than a trio. I think Frenkie de Jong gives him a run for that spot, but as Holland’s only starting player in a CL team, he’ll probably get the nod.

    Babel again did nothing wrong, but I don’t think he was great. I think Janssen could give him a run for his money, or really any other form striker who might show up.

    1. I dont think 3-5-2 will work with all the teams. Just like how koemans tatic was superior to that of santos vs portgual,there will be days when 3-5-2 formation might be as vunerable as any other.the idea to ditch 4-3-3 was justifiable but dragging with 3-5-2 also will make it easier for oponents to analyze you better.if you are playing with oponents who have dazzling wingers, they will always stretch the defense even if you play with three defenders at the back.this is the only way to counter 3-5-2 formation. Stretch the defense and free space for the strikers in middle to sneak through. If you look at the portgual game when Gelson Martins was introduced to the game, the portguese did start to come back even though they played with ten men but by then Ronaldo was already subbed of and there was no other central figure in the middle.


      Rightfully so.summed up perfectly. I dont think Santos will make this same mistake again and neither there will be another easier game than this if any when both sides meet again in future.

      For me De Vrijs position is up for graps because he is a leak.he is only good in compact areas, if you stretch the defense he will leak.you really jus need to know the weakness of a player in order to expose him.I would bracket Bruma and De Vrij to fight it out on club form merit and Ake on the other side with Van Drongelen. Van Drongelen will most probably follow the same footsteps ad van Dijk who made the way from bottom to top.

      Midfield as many have stated Frenkie is missing puzzle but I will also not forget the dutch xavi here who from eredivise point of view is above most of the midfielders who featured in this two games. If he is fit I will execpt him to start above anybody right now.

      Lastly forwards. El ghazi, Locadia vs Depay, Kluivert,Promes.

  2. Russian says “Fish stinks from the head”. These two games showed how smart coach can quickly learn from the mistakes and wisely use what he has in his stands. This game also has brought a lot of optimism and showed the light in the tunnel that we, dedicated fan of Dutch football, have been waiting for the long four years….Last but not least, I am so proud that my AZ was represented by THREE players in the National Team which has not happened for many many years.

  3. One thing that Koeman has succeeded and will try to ingrain it in the mentality of the players is a discipline. I think Oranje was very disciplined against Portugal and that conditioned the success. We all know that if a coach let’s it go, Oranje can be absolutely out of control in terms of discipline. My impression is that Koeman will keep re-enforcing disciplined way of play trying to compensate the relative lack of quality in this Oranje. I also still hope that Janssen will find his place in this Oranje too. I think he can contribute to the game more than Babel.

  4. I think this game shows with the right tactics, we have more than enough quality/talents to compete against the top teams of the world and the Dutch team if deployed correctly is still top tier.

    However, I want to also pour some cold water.This 5-3-2 system might only work on most of the strong teams, and if we were down 1:0 early in the game, this system won’t work at all. We need to find another system to deploy against defensive minded teams like Iceland, Greece. I think against Italy and Slovakia is a good chance for us to do that since both teams are very defensive minded which means we should try 3-4-3 again against those two teams.

    After Portugal is down one man, we actually played pretty bad, with ten men Portugal created more than us., had more possession and almost scored, this is kind of unacceptable.

    Lastly, I don’t think Guus Til is ready for national team yet. Did not offer much and lost the ball quite often.

  5. Alright so with these two friendlies we can say that our rebuild had a decent start.Below is what I think the pecking order is currently for each position for the national team (if all players are healthy). Let me know what do you guys think.

    Vincent Janssen
    Jurgen Locadia
    Ryan Babel
    Bas Dost
    Luuk De Jong

    El Ghazi
    Justin Kluivert

    Van De Beek
    Van Ginkel
    Freenkie De Jong
    De Roon
    De Guzman
    Guus Til

    Van Anholt

    Fosu Mensa

    Van Dijk
    De Vrij
    De Ligt
    Van Beek
    Van Der Hoorn
    Van Der Heijden
    Van Drongelen


    1. 72 players in total in this pool
      Best 11
      Janssen Depay
      Van De Beek Proper Wijnaldum
      Blind De Light Van Dijk De Vrij Karsdop

      Worst Scenario 11
      Luuk De Jong Stengs
      Bazoer Rameselaar Guus Til
      Sinkgraven Van Drongelen Nuytinck Luckassen Veltman

      Not too bad

    2. Need to add one more, Cb St Juste should be behind Van Der Heijden but before Luckassen.
      73 players in total 6 strikers, 11 wingers, 18 midfielders, 9 LBs, 6 RBs,19 CBs, 4 GKs

  6. Deligt he is goin to be phenomenon…i was comparing koeman and Blind..how koeman gve chance to kluivert and How Blind gave chance to Deligt…
    Babel is head and shoulder above Janssen and Dost..both are no where near him ..at least Janssen conncets with team mates…
    Babel is faster still one of the fastest players in the world..has amazing tricks in his foot…most imporatanly looks for his team mates and has sharp shots on goal..When guy like Babel upfront we have feeling that something will happen..
    The moment we DROPPED sTROOTMAN,dOST etc we were better team ..

    1. Where is Vincent Jansen? Suddenly, he is missing. The last time I read about him was he joined a club in Turkey.

      If Dost is not good enough, then why don’t Koeman calls Vincent?

      1. he’s recovering from toe injury. it could be bothersome and painful when not properly treated.

        it’s a shame Fenerbahce apparently doesn’t want to extend the loan or buy him… and he’s returning to Tottenham just to see Kane and Son ahead of him. the only good thing is that Llorente hasn’t really been better than him (apart from the hattrick against some much lower league team).

        1. Then he must go to a club where he can play regularly. Son and Kane are too good. Even if Kane is moving to Madrid or Son is moving to Juventus, I think Poch will look for another striker to replace one of them.

          If not moving to another club, maybe his career at Dutch NT will be over soon.

  7. Awesome win, can’t complain. Beating 3-0 any team at this state of our affairs is good news but beating our eternal nemesis team is phenomenal. If we can build on this then we’re on the right path. Our backline should become world class, we haven’t had this many good defenders in a long time. For now Thank You Mr. Koeman. I needed some hope.

  8. Bad luck for U19s. lost to germany 4-1 and will miss both the EC and WC. Stekelenberg started with the same team that thrashed Norway 6-1 in the opening game with injured Kadiglou replaced by Orkun Kökcü.Orkun Kökcü equalized for the dutch in the first hal but the germans ended up scoring 2 more goals and penalty to win the must win game for both the teams. Norway also defeated Scotland 5-4 to finish second. have to say this was crazy qualifies.

    Germany -Scotland 3-0

    NT – Norway 6-1

    Norway -Germany – 5-2

    NT – Scotland -0-2

    Norway – Scotland – 5-4

    Arnaut Groeneveld again scored the only goal for the U21s as they scraped past Andorra 1-0.

    1. Luck? Hahahaha, how many times did we hit the bar or post? Kadioglu is not injured, get your facts right. The coach benched him against Scotland with the reasoning of avoiding him getting a 2nd yellow, so he can play against Germany. And this is just dumb, because he has to put in Kadioglu in against Scotland in the 2nd half because we are losing and he did get a 2nd yellow which made him miss the game against Germany. This is epic dumb coaching.

      1. Really dont know much about stekelenberg. But Art Langeler is may times better than Grim given his time at U21s. On the other hand , you cant expect a top coach to be coaching at youth level. Most coaches at youth level either are starting their career or are ex players who take up coaching role. I think there will be flaws in either situation.

        1. The only good youth coach the KNVB has for the last 6-8 years is Stuivenberg, who brought two U17 championships for us and if you look at the players we have against Portugal a couple of them are from that generation. Depay, Vilhena, Ake etc. Stuivenberg was relatively unknown before he took the coaching role, I am sure there are a bunch of youth coaches within the Ajax Feyernood PSV system that can take over. However, KNVB has been using old coaches who had some poor or decent results at Eredivisie or Eerst Divisie Level, they are not really youth coaches. Langeler is ok as a coach (probably had the best coaching record before taking over U-21 compared to the previous couple coaches) but he is not what a Dutch youth team needs, his speciatly is playing defensive counter attacking football (check out PEC when he was the coach). The dutch talent now is not set up that way, they are more used to 4-3-3 and attacking football. That’s why if you watch some of our U-21 U-20 U-19 U-18 teams play, there is no clear system, no tactics just chaos, but other teams (even Austria, Poland, Czech’s youth team play more like a team and have better chemistry, if you look at these teams roster, their talent is by no means close to us, but they have been beating us in recent years multiple times) tell me this is not a coaching issue with KNVB youth system.

          1. Stuivenberg was well known in feyenoord Arena before moving to Middle east and then returning back to holland to take up coaching for the under 17s. Stuivenberg was very familiar with most the players as he had coached them at u17s and got reunited when he moved up to the u21s. Most of them were the same that went to Isreal u21s.

            Off course the KNVB have been the culprit in most case scenarios even at NT level but then again as I said established coaches wont wanna go downhill coaching youth level because they know the road closes in the end.after the U 21s there is nothing for them but back to starting blocks.

            As it has always been, the coaches for youth level will always be either ex players who are starting their careers as coaches or those who have failed to established as above average coaches and in either circumstances will end up doing experiments. This is where I said there will always be flaws.

          2. “Defensive Counter Attack” even the current NT are hopeless when with ball in possession.

  9. I am a big Robben fan, but I don’t want to see him playing more in Orange. New times are coming, and we need to give a chance to young players.

  10. What do you think?:

    Phillipe Sandler has spoke to Voetbal International about his upcoming move to Manchester City.

    The PEC Zwolle youngster will join Manchester City in the summer after a £2 million deal was struck between the two clubs in January.

    For many the move to the Premier League leaders has come to soon for the youngster, but he has told VI that he believes he will get chances in the Manchester City first team.

    Sandler said, “I understand the reaction. A player from PEC usually does not transfer to the English top. Yet it is true. There are people who think I can not handle it. I can show them now. What else should I have done? Let this chance go?

    “Pep Guardiola wants to work with young talents in the coming years. To buy less arrived players and, as it were, train the boys themselves. I can work with the best trainer in the world. That is a boy’s dream. My management and I spoke extensively with people from City, including Txiki Bergiristain.

    “They really knew everything about me! They were impressed by my balls between the lines and my speed. They saw that I got better and better in the duels but I also mentioned that I had problems with space in the back. The video analysts had watched almost all of my matches. That gave a good feeling. I’m not just a number, they really have a plan with me. Guardiola too. When I was in hospital for my medical examination, my father spoke to him. He knew exactly who I was. “


    How do you rate this player?

      1. I wonder why the top 3 in eredivisie didnt scout him. Ajax is rumored to lining up Van Drongelen move from Hamburg whom are in danger of being relegated.

    1. We have 5 sets of 3 CBs for the next three tournaments, no matter he make it or not we are good for the next 5-6 years. Right now he is not in the national team contention.

      1. Maybe not now but in future, who knows? Look at Van Dijk for instance. He was never in contention some years back but look at him now and look at Veltman who went to the WC. Even when Man United signed Buttner, he was unkown.there must have been something special in him which must have caught the attention of the scouts and thats why they signed him.

        1. It is interesting to note that the same year (2013?) that Van Dijk signed for Celtic for 2,7 million pounds, Ajax decided to sign Mike van der Hoorn over him, paying a higher transfer fee (3,4 million pounds) for the current Swansea defender.

          1. Atrocity happens all the time…we must have an innersite to understand the talents..1 match of U21 vs italy semifinal was enough to understand the quality of HOon…..
            Van basten played kuyt for RVN in cruch match..
            Babel was ignored by BLind for long time we were in crisis while Babel was inform.
            We wasted times with Many low quality players under Blind…
            So it happens..

  11. We have luxuray of defenders who could walk in to any national team..
    Flying Lbs
    Flying Rbs
    its enviable..

  12. With sam van huffel on trial at Leicester City.decided to take a look at him.he defintely looks like a natural talent but whether if he is ready to take it to the next level is something that only he knows.He hasnt featured for ADO Den Haag first team and if he makes it, will be against all odds for someone who also hasnt even featured at the youth level for NT. Hakim Ziyech kind of player.

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