Not selecting Weghorst but bringing Stekelenburg back to Oranje are the two main talking points re: Oranje.
The first training is behind them, for the WC qualifiers. Rene Wormhoudt was leading the warming up. Assistant coach Ruud van Nistelrooy and Maarten Stekelenburg (the other one) were managing the rondos, and keeper trainer Patrick Lodewijks was working with his three goalies while senior assistant Lodeweges was managing the attacking patterns. With Frank de Boer interrupting from time to time.
Memphis and Gini Wijnaldum are the last to leave the trainingsground after practicing their free kicks. Frank de Boer was watching from a distance, big smile on his face.
At Crystal Palace, he used to practice with the rest and would get some flak from the players (“Show-off!”) when he curled another ball in the top corner…
Frank de Boer is aware of the humbug concerning Weghorst, Stekelenburg (the goalie) and the Qatar situation in general but wants to focus on the ball. Three qualification games are planned (Turkey on Wednesday, Latvia on Saturday and Gibraltar on Tuesday. This will be the last opportunity for De Boer to weigh his players before we start the prep for the Euros mid May. Without skipper Virgil van Dijk, if we have to believe Jurgen Klopp.
Normally, Stefan de Vrij would come in for Virgil, but the former Feyenoord has tested positive for Covid. Nathan Ake is also absent, as he missed months of game time due to a muscle injury. But there is no shame in playing Daley Blind and Mathijs de Ligt in the centre defence.
Frank de Boer seems to build on the work Koeman left him, with as key difference, the use of a real number 9 in Luuk de Jong and Memphis back on the left wing. Koeman struggled with that position himself as well. Under his reign, we saw Justin Kluivert there, Arnaut Danjuma, Dilrosun and Boadu but Koeman constantly went back to mainstay Ryan Babel.
Right wing is also not a settled spot. Steven Berghuis has the most caps, Calvin Stengs is considered our biggest prospect and Steven Bergwijn has experience in a top competition.
There are heaps of choices at right back. Kenny Tete’s return gives De Boer more options, on a position where Dumfries and Hateboer seemed to have their stamp. Joel Veltman can play there too, as can Jerry St Juste, while Rick Karsdorp is knocking loudly on the door as well.
On the left, Daley Blind seems to have that spot as his, but Van Aanholt and Wijndal are strong contenders when the Ajax man is needed elsewhere. Daley Sinkgraven is an option outside of the squad, but looking in…
In midfield, Tonny Vilhena and Kevin Strootman – southpaws both – seemed to surpassed by Teun Koopmeiners, who excels week in week out for AZ. He’s currently with Young Oranje but for the Euros, you can count on the AZ captain to be present.
The battle for the third midfielder spot will be interesting. Frenkie and Gini are beyond discussion, so the third spot will be between Klaassen, De Roon and Gravenberch. Davy Propper is working on his fitness while Donny van de Beek hasn’t had enough games, you’d think.
The meeting with Turkey on Wednesday is the 13th match up. The last time we met was 6 September 2015, when we lost painfully, 3-0. We lost three times against them and we won five matches. Four games were undecided.
Daley Blind is about to play his 75th cap and is the 22nd player to do so in Oranje. Blind is the most experienced international, with Gini Wijnaldum and Ryan Babel as 2nd and 3rd (respectively 70 and 67 caps).
Frank de Boer at the presser about his decision to ignore Weghorst. The former Heracles striker scored 22 times this season but hasn’t gotten the chance to add another cap to the last game he played in November 2019. He has played four international games so far.
“I had to choose between Luuk and Wout and I picked Luuk. I understand it’s delicate. It’s a very tough call, also for me. And definitely for him of course. He has performed ever so well but so did Luuk at Oranje. We now only have a couple of days to prep for this important match vs Turkey and taking that into consideration I decided to go with the player who is used to our processes, who knows the way we work and train… Luuk.”
“I did call Wout and explained it to him. It’s a tough call and he wasn’t happy with me, that can be clear for all. I told him to keep on making it hard for me. He is knocking on the door… or even worse, he hit a couple of holes in the door already. This was the most difficult decision I had to make.”
“I do feel they’re a bit the same, as types. And yes, I can take both, but for now I think, for these three games, I needed Luuk only. But Wout is heavily on the radar for the Euros. I truly admire him and we will follow him. Others know that they also have to keep on performing to stay in the race. Wout is definitely in the mix for the Euros.”
I think Frank should play this eleven:
Dumfries – De Ligt – Blind – Wijndal
Klaassen – Frenkie – Wijnaldum
Berghuis – Memphis – Malen
I can see us win this game 1-3, with Memphis, Malen and Klaassen on the score sheet. Expect a top game by Wijndal!