Oranje powerless vs Mexico

The biggest news, for me, this week wasn’t this useless friendly vs Mexico, but the signing of Mario Gotze by PSV Eindhoven. What a great move. This does show ambition and courage. When there is blood on the street, you have to buy, is what investment guru Warren Buffet says. And he should know.

The 28 year old was touted as the next Messi when he made his debut at 18 and despite of some great performances for Dortmund and later Bayern and of course, that winning goal in 2014, the wunderkind got into trouble physically. The diminutive playmaker wasn’t built for the power football of Borussia Dortmund and Bayern and got injury after injury and saw stronger and fitter midfielders (Muller, Goretzka, Draxler) take his spot. His relationship with Roger Schmidt resulted in a 2 year deal with PSV.

Wunderkind Gotze in PSV jersey

I think the Eredivisie is the perfect platform for him and the domestic league will be way more interesting with him in it. We have Robben, Klaassen, Gotze, Berghuis, Stengs and more on display in the Eredivisie and we’re loving it.

What we don’t love, is tedious friendlies. I’m sure coaches can get insights and benefits from it, but for me, it’s not that interesting.

If you play bad, or lose, one can say: “ah so what, it’s a friendly after all. It doesn’t matter now, it matters in the real game”. And if you play great and win, you think “hmmm I hope they can do this when it’s for real, because this is a friendly after all”.

Well, we were not disappointed. It was meagre. Weak. At times awkward. And it’s too easy to blame Frank de Boer. For starters, he was offered this friendly, only 5 days before a real Nations League match. What to do? Play the starting eleven? Too much risk. There is also a second Nations League game 3 days later and you don’t want your big guns to play 3 matches in 8 days. Insane.

So Frank did what he had to do. Play the lads that most likely won’t start for 90 minutes, test the partnership of De Vrij and Van Dijk – as I predicted – and give Memphis playing time to get him in rhythm for Italy (Memphis missed some matches for Lyon).

He also offered a debut to Koopmeiners and Wijndal. The latter made a name for himself as an attacking full back. With the emphasis on “attacking”. The youngster got in trouble a couple of times defensively, and Frank de Boer will probably decide to go with the more solid option of Blind vs Bosnia and Italy. When Van Aanholt is fit, Wijndal might move back to 3rd option.

Koopmeiners, on the other hand, impressed. Cool under pressure. Excellent passing. Good vision. He too made some errors (as they all did!) but overall, he played as if he was playing his 23rd international. A mature midfielder and awesome alternative to De Roon for the spot next to Frenkie.

Another noteworthy mention need to go to Steven Berghuis, who started slow (lots went via the left flank in Oranje….) but grew into the game and almost reached his Feyenoord level. Frank de Boer hinted in the post-match presser that one or two of the “Mexico” players might find themselves in the line up for Bosnia. Could be Berghuis, and could be Krul too.

Tim played his first cap in 5 years and did relatively well. It’s a fact that Cillesen is a better player with his feet, and Krul passing was not full proof, but his shot stopping was excellent. The penalty was unstoppable.

Frank de Boer: “In principle, Cillesen is my number 1 goalie, but I will wait the results of his fitness test. If he isn’t fit, he won’t play.”

Another reason why Berghuis got into the game later, was the lack of forward thrust by Hateboer. I think by now we can all see that Hateboer is a good option in a 3-5-2 set up, where he can play the wide right back, with a central defender close by. He is excellent moving forward and scores his occassional goal for Atalanta but in a 4 man defence he is vulnerable. He lacks the smooth touch we expect from players these days (Ake, Blind), he is defensively vulnerable and he lacks the football vision to play that forward pass (again, Blind, Ake, Van Dijk, De Vrij, De Ligt)…

Dumfries is not much better in terms of pure football skills, but Denzel is strong, tough in the duels, good header of the ball and like Hateboer, great going forward. Denzel is a leader. Hateboer comes across as a “nice weather player”. Better right backs are needed (Karsdorp, Fosu Mensah, Klaiber, Zeefuik).

A remarkable move by De Boer: he decided to tweak the tactics. He says he is still following “Koeman’s line” as we call it, but he did go from two holding mids (Frenkie and De Roon usually) to one (Koopmeiners) with two attacking midfielders in Gini and Donny. So the 4-2-3-1 (actually a 4-3-2-1 in Oranje’s case, not to make it more complicated…) became a 4-3-3.

He did indicate that it probably won’t be used in the coming Nations League matches, as Frenkie will play of course and he needs a holding mid next to him, so he has the freedom to create the play. “I just think it is good to have options to play differently and have some more subtle options at your disposal.” Frank also played with a false 9, with Memphis dropping into midfield as the creator for runners like Babel and Berghuis. Both had an opportunity by finding that space. Babel had some good runs in behind, but wasn’t found often enough for it to register.

Remarkable, that the Mexicans didn’t see this as a friendly. They didn’t come to “try new tactics”, they came to play like they always do. With a lot of little fouls and annoying ways to upset the opponent. Alvarez (Ajax) showed their commitment by fouling Koopmeiners brutally in the first 2 minutes of the game and whenever a Dutch player had sight on goal, they’d nudge him or foul him or take the free kick. The Dutch seemed to want to play a practice match and showed way less resilience and grit.

Ironically, Holland conceded as a result of a subtle foul. Ake did touch Raul’s shoulder/arm when he went for the ball, but that would never been a spot kick in England or in 2010. But rules change, and looking at the opponent with a frown can result in a penalty these days. It also felt Raul was actually off side when the ball was played in but I am not 100% sure about that.

Memphis was his industrious self. It wasn’t good. But he tried. He had lots of loss of possession and tried dribbles that didn’t come of, but still. He did what he had to do in his role. We all know he can do better. The forward saw a transfer to Barca go awry but didn’t seem to be bothered. He took the set pieces, shot from distance, attempted dribbles and one-two combinations and was made captain by De Boer when Van Dijk left the pitch at half time. The big question is: who will replace him?

It seems logical to play Luuk de Jong. Not because he can play like Memphis (he can’t) but because of his form and status. I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank took a tough decision for the Bosnia game. He could replace Memphis by a more explosive player like Malen and use Promes in place of Babel. De Jong could remain to be what he is good at: pinch hitter for more opportunistic play. Because whether you like it or not: De Jong isn’t so quick and doesn’t have the intricate footwork we might need, vs Bosnia.

If indeed De Jong is played, we don’t have a real pinch hitter on the bench (and De Boer will have to use Virgil as the pinch hitter).

De Boer was disappointed. He felt we started rusty, needed some time to get into the game (as the English commentator said: Oranje started sleepy. Again.) but we lost the game due to losing too many duels and making too many personal mistakes. For me, that is part of the story, because we also couldn’t create much.

De Boer made a lot of changes to get an impression from others as well and that never really makes a match better.

Overall, a disappointing, flat performance, with Koopmeiners, Krul and Berghuis as positives.

Now the speculations about the starting line up vs Bosnia and Italy are starting.

Is it sensible to play the same eleven, in principle, against both nations? I think not. Lodeweges tried this too, in the previous match up weekend and the second match is too much for a full fledge performance. Some players will be able to do it (Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Frenkie) where others (Blind? Malen? ) will probably need a bit more time to recuperate. This is not even taking injuries and knocks into account.

I think Frank will play like this vs Bosnia, who play at home and will need to get a result, with 1 point from 2 matches.

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  1. Thank Jan for you analysis. I’m just curious to know why you think Berghuis? Is is because Holland does not have any better player? I have this guy several in the NT, he is horrible. The national team should have all the best player in my opinion. Berghuis does not impress anyone. Another guys that is supposed to be a talent (Wijndal). I don’t know why people were saying that? Maybe i’ve seen way too many talented Dutch players over the years. Some of these guys now in my opinion are below average except for Franky De Jong.

    1. Excellent (world class leve) players in the current Dutch NT team, IMO:
      1. VVD
      2. FDJ
      3. De Ligt (but injured now).
      4. Depay

      Good level:
      1. Ake
      2. Wijnaldum
      3. De Vrij

      Standard level:
      1. Hatoeber
      2. De Roon
      3. Donny van De Beek (because currently he is not a starter at MU).
      4. Blind
      5. Luuk de Jong

      I cannot add Cillesen, because he is not even a first choice at Valencia. Krul is in second tier level in the premier league.

      1. Daley deserves to be in Good Level :-).

        All these trophies with Ajax, played and won trophies with Man U. Played WC with Oranje, with important assists and goal. Won bronze in 2014.

        He deserves a spot higher…

    2. Berghuis is one of the best players in the Eredivisie (with Ziyech last season). Scores a lot for a right winger too. But like with these guys, they need to be made important by the coach.

      In Feyenoord, the first forward pass is always for Berghuis. He doesn’t have this status in Oranje so he won’t be able to shine as much.

      He really is outstanding when given the role he deserves.

      Wijndal is great moving forward, but defensively not so experienced. He’s really young.

      1. I think with memphis around that will never happen.Even vs Mexico, during the set pieces you could tell, berghuis wanted to take it but memphis was all over it.

        Stengs had more ideas and was more productive coming on for him.

        Agree with you on why Berghuis thrives at Feyenoord, but the question is who is better than him there. In NT its obvious he will fade out with the likes of bergwijn, Promes,Danjuma around etc.

        A good time to gauge how good he is, is when feyenoord plays Ajax or PsV. This is the only times the first pass to him like you said deprives him and he looks flat.

        Imo waoting for the ball to come to you, ( ball to feet) era has long gone.

  2. Re:Blind solid option

    hell no and a big joke. He hasnt being playing at LB, no speed, medical condition. how does he become a solid option? I havnt seen Bosina play and given their status as an average team you can expect Blind to flourish in this type of game This has long been his feature. He only comes out of the hole and ventures forward vs average teams but with big guns, its lateral and back passes. FDB better not start him vs Italy.

    Van Annholt is defensively lethargic . More offensively balanced and When ever he gets caught upfront, he is out of energy to run back and cover up. He simply exerts to much energy going forward.Being said this he can a good impact player if you are down and looking to change complexity of the game. Willems compared to his loan spell at Newcastle looked better than him however both are in the same boat when it comes to defense.

    Bakker and Wijndal are the way forward. Two games is coming up and three in the next fixture. Rotate both, come euros they will ready. Poland and then again Bosina would be a good game for bakker to make his debut.

    I think you have to look back and note how van Dijk,De Ligt and few others made a slow start only to thrive as they played more and more. Its gonna happen and requires passions and continuity with upcoming players. Not dragging with the same old. Look around all the teams are doing it .

    Re: Berghuis.

    I cant recall him growing into the game but instead stengs came on and changed the whole complexity on that right flank and still with hateboer playing behind him. His holding of possession, Distributions, linking was far more superior than berghuis. Like I said if you are playing in eredivisie in your prime. Something is wrong. He needs to go.

  3. I can see Koompmeiners leading the midfield next to Frenkie. As Jan said he looked as if he had already played many times with the national team.

    De Roon is good but he is not the typical Dutch player. He should be on the bench.

    1. What I have seen of Veerman. He will be a top player. He is a combo of both Frenkie and Koopmeiners and plus he has good long range shots. He im tipping him to become of the best. He needs to be called up in the next set of fixtures and then the competition can begin.

  4. This is what I want to see in the euros. Double pivot.




    Wijndal/Bakker- Van Dijk-De ligt- Dumfries/Karsdorp

    Krul or whoever

    1. Wilson, you keep putting random names on your team selection without any knowledge of their ability. Have you seen Bakker play? Or Veerman for that matter? Bakker is absolutely horrible as a player a Dijks version 2.0 in probably even more mediocre and Veerman has not played once for the national team yet you put him on your starting 11 ahead of Wijnaldum? How strange? I am glad you are not the coach.

      1. I dont open my mouth for nothing. I do follow them and try keep update of whats the lastest going around them. I suggest you do the same. Veronica inside, soccernews.nl, voetbal zone, voetbalprimeur. Its all there. From Wim Jonk to Van hanegem, all have made the the same sentiments.

        You will be eating your words when he arrives onto the NT stage.

        I think you havnt watched this as well.let me know what you think and pliz hit that subscribe button so that you keep getting updated.


        Its not just some fantasy compilation but side by side comparison of their skills and capabilities.

        Re: Bakker

        A horrible player and playing for PSG. Something sounds wrong here.I admit he is work in progress but then who else is there playing in one of the best clubs, week in week out. The bottom line is there is nothing to loose investing in players like him instead of dragging with the likes of Blind.

        Yes it will take them few extra games to get settled but like I said earlier van dijk, de ligt all made a slow start and not just rocketed to the top.

    2. You’ve bringing new names on this blog and saying they are top player but people see them in action, it’s a whole different story. It is not because a player is a debutant in the NT that you have to be patient. Wijndal is not a NT material. When people saw Franky Dj the fist time, everyone saw that he is a talent. Many of you on this blog always bringing a bunch on name clamming that they have talent. Why are they still in the Eridivise? Those that are finally moved abroad, can’t even make it. Look are Klassen, Bezot ect.. Not sure if I’m spelling their name right.

        1. My friends, frankly speaking, I spend a lot hours on researching, reading news and stuff for individually players. I know there are work commitments for some you guys which is totally fine but know your facts if you gonna put up with arguments.

          It makes sense that way and makes this blog more intresting. Im also on 5 other forums and other mutiple groups and trust me, if I could cut and paste those comments here, then you would see its not only me but whole bunch of people out there who share the same sentiments about veerman and other players who are coming

          1. I watch the eredivisie every weekend and I also pay special attention to the Ajax youth teams which is why I can tell you that Bakker is absolutely awful. The mere fact you are considering him for the national team tells me you don’t really know much about judging talent. He has NONE, mark my word. How he is playing for PSG is beyond me except for the fact their 2 left backs are injured (Bernat) and suspended (Kimpembe). He is slow, has no technical ability, no vision; in summary a very mediocre player. Read the PSG blogs and you will see what they really think of him. As for Veerman, he may a be a good player for Heerenveen but he has never been called for the national team and does not know what it means to play under constant pressure. First he should move to Ajax or PSV and the fact neither club was interested says it all. You are not the only one here who follows Dutch football believe me.

        2. @ Jeff

          I leaving this article for you to read and (from the horses mouth). This is enough to convince me that Bakker is on the right track and if he continues playing, he should be called up.


          Agree with you on brenet. He is the no 1 left Back for PSG and probably an upgrade to Bakker but like they say, ones loses is anothers gain and for Bakker it ( injury & suspension) wouldnt have come any time better.

          Like I said there is nothing to loose investing in him. Who else is there playing at that level.

  5. —————–Cillessen—————-




    1. @ Wilson, No need to read other people’s opinion when I saw Wijndal played on Wednesday. He made zero impression on no one. This guy Berghuis, why he is on the NT? Is it because Holland has any better? If this guy was good, at this stage, he would of been abroad already. I would rather play Roben even at his age. The past 2 years, some of you guys on this blog have been mentioning a bunch of names on this blog but by far only Franky De Jong has made an impression.

      1. Its is not just about reading their opinion. In very domestic leagues when ever an upcoming talent makes a break through,he gets being tracked. In dutch football nobody talks about you or gives a shit if you are not talented or a top talent in making.simple as that. You go back to around 2014,nobody was talking about Van Dijk simply because 1 he was never considered as a top talent from the youth level and 2 he was playing for Groningen and then celtic.

        This is how the dutch football works and if you play for Ajax, Feyenoord or PSV, red carpet to NT. AZ has come into picture just last season if not you have to keep banging the door and like van dijk until you go on to prove them other wise, then the door opens.

        Lastly there are whole lot of reason why some talents dont make it to the top.this has been discussed in depth and how they go stray. Super agents, wrong choices, attitude problem etc. You look at Richairo Zivkovic when he jumped on to the scene at groningen as a 16 year old.he was dubbed as a super talent given his performaces there onwards. His move to Ajax ruined everyrhing and now he is in china.you cant do much here but to move on.

  6. The current NT certainly isn’t a world beater, even if we incl. the many other players who have shown potential; most have not fully being tested and convinced.
    There is no wow or fear factor unlike the past teams.
    We just got to be patient and hope the players continue to develop and grow in stature. 🙏🤞.
    For now, it will be a roller coaster ride for the team and us.

    1. I have to say this and I have said this before, the team under koeman was at absolute prime during last seasons Nations League. If euros or WC would have had to happen last last year NT would have gone far and could have brushed aside any team. They beat France,Germany,England and that was a good indicator.

      During the course of the EC qualifers though it was clear the team was on a decline. How did the team went from beating the top guns to struggling with minor teams like belarus and Northern Ireland. Did koeman drag with team (starting 11 to long) or its simply the players who are declining.This is how many games now that wijnaldum looks switched off. Poland,italy and now mexico. Babel? What if koeman would have continued with NT?

      The other thing I see from the reaction and comments is if Mexico should have been a work over team which they are never. I remember when they beat NT 3-2 in Amsterdam, the dutch never knew what hit them.


      The Mexicans were handful that day too.

  7. NT has some quality players up front in Memphis,Mallen,stengs,Danjuma,..They can finish the work if well served..But our main problem is impotent wing backs/full backs..Hateboer is b grade player with atrocious foot and ball controll..Dumfires is slightly better than him..We should not have missed sergino DEst…We are loosing from backs..its all starts from there..
    then comes to left wing…yes blind can do Mercurius attack i agree…But he does against weaker teams and teams with zero offense…this is due to his understanding about his own speed.So vs top team we are impotenet from wings…
    In addition to this Wijnaldum lacks vision at centre.he lacks that slick movemnet mercurious passing ofm Propper,De beek,Blind etc…wE NEED TO BENCH WIJNALDUM FOR SAKE OF OUR TEAM..

    When u have bombing karsdorp and Jetro williams at wings…..MARK MY WORDS WE WILL HAVE HELL TEAM..THE WORLD BEATER…
    Dejong————-De beek—-
    on bench

  8. I believe we all agree that this team has quality but they need to play as a team. We don’t have the huge stars like in past generations with Bergkamps, Robben, Cruyff, Van Basten, etc…

    We have a good team but especially in our attack we do lack quality. We have good attackers like Depay, Promes but I believe we all agree that they’d have never played in other generations therefore we need Frank de Boer to make them play as a unit.

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