Oranje work in progress…

Or so we hope… It’s only one more week… And then the real stuff comes down. Frank de Boer wanted to be able to play 5-3-2 and seems to be throwing everything he has at it. But will it be enough?

A 3-0 win over Georgia doesn’t mean much.

So De Boer went for another 5-3-2, but with Stekelenburg for Krul and Daley Blind for Mathijs de Ligt who is struggling with a groin issue.

But the coach also tweaked the positions.

Wijnaldum as #10

Against Scotland, Holland played with one holding mid and two more offensive midfielders wider. Against Georgia, we play with two holders and a central #10 or false striker and as the match progressed, Frenkie started to play higher up the pitch whenever he could, so we would have more pressure on their holding mids.

In an attacking sense, Memphis now has more space behind him, to fall back into and pick up the ball. No matter where the coach positions him on the white board, he will always go into the half spaces on the left side of the pitch. Against Scotland, Gravenberch was constantly in his way, now agains Georgia that space is his. In this way, Holland plays with two #10s behind striker Weghorst. At times Blind could find the 10s via a forward pass and threaten the goal. See below.

Wingbacks push up

We saw how Wijndal in particular failed to push up in the first half vs Scotland and how this influenced the first stage of that game. Now, De Boer instructed his wingbacks to take on their counter part, allowing the midfielders to be available and on the front foot for when we repossess the ball. The shape and positioning was way better, see below.

The backs being high up the pitch resulted in our second goal, when an agressive Dumfries marks his man way on the opponent’s side of the pitch. He turns over possession and via Frenkie’e quick feet, Memphis finds Wout Weghorst, who is allowed to score his first Oranje goal and boy, did he enjoy that.

De Roon pushes Dumfries up

This is a more subtle change. And it concerns specific build-up situations, where De Roon drops back next to the right back central defender. See below:

He pushes Dumfries forward which is great, as the PSV skipper is the most threatening attacker for Oranje and gets the penalty shout too. But there are also issues.

De Roon doesn’t add anything in the build up. Timber is a way better footballer and demonstrated this vs Scotland. De Roon delays the build up, more than anything and with him on Dumfries’ duties, Oranje lacks a player in midfield, which can be a problem.

Below a situation where De Roon is missing in midfield and De Vrij and Blind get in trouble.

But despite all these changes, Oranje’s problems remain the same. We have a week to go do deal with the following four problems:

The wrong players have to build up

In an attacking sense, the wrong players are involved in the build up. In Koeman’s 4-2-3-1, the buildup happened from the back, centrally, with Blind as left back and Virgil and De Ligt centrally with Frenkie close by in midfield. In that set up, Oranje at times played with three at the back, as Frenkie would regularly drop back to assist his colleagues.

This image above shows us how it is resolved today. The space where Frenkie likes to start is now occupied by the left central defender who moves towards the side line and De Roon who drops deep to provide an option. These are not the players who will come up with a swift forward pass.

No depth

In top matches for Chelsea, Timo Werner always plays. Not because he scores prolifically, coz he doesn’t, but because he will run in behind all the time. Whenever he goes, he pulls the opponent’s defense with him and opens up space for anything to happen.

We don’t have that player currently. Weghorst works like a horse but is not that type of forward and Memphis wants the ball to feet. Dumfries is currently our player with the deep runs, and he is a full back! When Malen is introduced, this goes more smoothly. The explosive PSV forward can make those runs all day long and create more space for Memphis and Weghorst.

Man marking results in chaos

Georgia creates opportunities in the first half! And more than they themselves had expected. The #91 on the World Ranking seems to play out of trouble with ease, against this Oranje. The cause: holes in the organisation. The Dutch start from a particular zone on the pitch, but quite early on in the game, you can see the pairing happening. And the results are sometimes ugly, see below.

Wijnaldum has to follow his man and ends up playing right bac. De Roon and De Jong are not in the zone protecting our defence which resulted in Timber pushing forward and also being out of position. Shambles!

Playing a team like Georgia which likes to form a square in midfield, it’s quite hard to do man marking, as the Oranje midfielder would be out of position too often and the central defenders would be forced to push up all the time. Georgia didn’t really benefit from this but a stronger opponent surely will.

The distances between players are too big

The core of our defensive woes is the distance between players. In order to defend forward with the defensive line, the distance between forwards and defenders should be no more than 30 meters. Koeman called this vertically compact.

Today, these distances are bigger. The players don’t seem to recognise the situation together, in order to push up (defence) or drop deeper (forwards). The result is: too much space in between the lines and it is very hard to play a pressure game if the space is too big. These are all things that can be remedied at the training ground, but maybe not within one week.

Lastly, it’s important to look in the mirror when judging this team: would we take this result in the Euros group stages? Or in a World Cup qualifier? Would we be distraught with the lack of quality or just enjoy the three points and hope our better form is right around the corner?

But if it’s a friendly warm up match for the Euros, we tend to look at it all with a magnifying glass.

It’s important to remind yourself that:

  • In 1974, most Dutch fans wondered why we were going to the World Cup. We wouldn’t stand a chance, as Keizer and Swart were getting too old and all our central defenders (Israel, Hulshoff, Mansfeld, Drost, Laseroms) were injured and we had to rely on a midfielder and a rookie in central defence.
  • In 1978 expectations were dreadful as JC and Willem van Hanegem weren’t coming
  • In 1988, Michels couldn’t find the winning recipe until after losing the first group match
  • In 2010, the pre-World Cup campaign was also quite disappointing and our defence was considered way to weak
  • In 2014, the whole nation wondered what on Earth Van Gaal was going to do with this team

I do share a lot of the criticism that has been voiced on the blog. I also think Wijndal and Dumfries do not have the quality level this team needs, in particular moving forward and with their final pass.

I also think Malen should start over Weghorst.

I really don’t think De Roon should be starting. I would play Gravenberch for him.

Stekelenburg would be my #1 goalie.

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  1. The first paragraph from VN Pro article. It is very true and this year there is no difference.
    “On itself, a stiff practice campaign is not a cause for concern. Almost every memorable tournament of the Dutch national team started with a preparation full of question marks. In the last game before the 1974 World Cup, it was a draw against Romania. Towards the gold European Championship of 1988, Bulgaria lost 2-1. The first group match with the Soviet Union was also a fiasco at the time. When a football show was given away against Hungary in the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, the failure of Arjen Robben still caused national panic. The last final tournament of Orange in 2014 was preceded by poor performances against Ecuador (1-1), Ghana (1-0) and Wales (2-0).”

  2. Agree with the changes you would make to the starting lineup Jan. One more question – if we play 4-3-3 who is the right winger? Please don’t tell me it’s Berghuis…

    1. Of course it is :-). He is the most threatening forward in the past matches, alongside Memphis and he has a unique skill set. Why would you not want him to play?

  3. Jan, I don’t agree with your comparison. In all these tournaments that you pointed out, there were some team chemistry issues just like any other teams before any tournaments but these players were world class. Zero comparison with the guys we have now. At the exception on Depay or maybe Frenkie De Jong no one on this current has the technical ability like a Marcelo or Neymar or even Ziyech. It’s been a while since Holland is struggling to beat event the smallest football countries. I’m not being negative at all. All I’m saying is, the national team should be a combination of the very best. If what I’m seeing on this squad our the very best, we are in deep trouble.

    1. I happen to agree with you jean_venette. Even our “famous” defense with de Vrij and de Ligt is like swiss cheese. These guys are no exceptional talents just good players and that’s it. There are tons like them accross europe regardless their price tag. Van de Beek has been warming the bench for a whole year yet he still gets in the team. Wijndal, Gravenberch etc. are some regular players that France has in spades in every tier of their Ligue 1 and so does Portugal. Pair this with a clueless coach and you get a very ordinary team. Georgia had countless penetrations through our central defense. In attack even Depay who we consider like the second coming of Messi is not that special but we are starved. We will have a hard time making it past the group stage. I will be very impressed if we can beat Ukraine with this team. In fact I would be shocked.

    2. at Last I find somebody on this blog who sees what I see. If NT has to upgrade or have a shot at winning any tournament, they need more technical players to complement others in the current squad and this is the only way the team will be able to close the gap on big nations. you just cant overlook at this and like I said if you turn a blind eye on this,whats unfolding wont change the current trend will continue.

      As for euros, I think all the groups games will be close and could go either way. 2-1,1-0 or draw. I dont think there will be any surprises like in 2014.

    3. “But these players were world class”
      —time to look back at the blog archive to see the comments on Ron Vlaar, Bruno Martins Indi, Heitinga, Mathijsen, etc.

      There is a core of quality here in this current team, I honestly believe that. The tactics certainly need some work, and I’m concerned with FdB at some points, for sure. It bothers me that de Roon and Dumfries both start games as I don’t find either of them to be good enough (though Dumfries was better against Georgia that the prior match). But I think that this team is capable of making a solid set of appearances in tournament play.

      Timber, for me, has been fantastic, and I’m hoping that he can be a key part of the build up, either from the right (instead of Dumfries) or from the center (instead of de Roon.

      I also wonder if Memphis couldn’t play behind both Weghorst and Malen against certain teams, allowing him to drop as deep as he chooses without stranding just a single striker so high up the pitch. Without service into the box, a guy like Weghorst isn’t going to produce much, but he’s also less likely to produce if he’s completely alone in the attacking third

      1. yes and you will also find that even though they were average, they were subject to good cover from being exposed in 2010 with Van Bommel and De Jong(technical and tactical) and again in 2014, 3 man CB and again De Jong in front of them. this was also helped by the availability of world class forwards who were lethal in attack up front. unfortunately FDB doesn’t have the same luxury as the coaches back them.

    4. I will dedicate a whole post to you my friend. Don’t worry. I like your passion but Rijsbergen, Suurbier, Jongbloed, Jansen, Rep and Haan were not considered world class back in the day (1974). Neither were Wouters, V Aerle, v Tiggelen, Erwin Koeman in 1988 and Muhren was 37 years old!

    5. I will dedicate a whole post to you my friend. Don’t worry. I like your passion but Rijsbergen, Suurbier, Jongbloed, Jansen, Rep and Haan were not considered world class back in the day (1974). Neither were Wouters, V Aerle, v Tiggelen, Erwin Koeman in 1988 and Muhren was 37 years old!

      1. Jan, I again have to respectfully disagree with you. How can you say such things? Rep, Suurbier and Haan had just won the European Cup with Ajax 3 times! Rep scored the winner against Juventus in 1973. These guys were superstars for the time. Same with Rijsbergen and Jansen who had won the EC in 1970 and won the Dutch league ahead of Ajax. They had also just won the UEFA Cup with Feyenoord against Tottenham. So at the top of European football for sure. The only one from that group who was a nobody was Jongbloed. That is correct.
        As for the 1988 team, same applies to V Aerle and the PSV contingent who had just won the European Cup. Muhren was old but still amazing with Ipswich when they beat AZ to win the UEFA Cup. E Koeman had just won the Winners Cup with Mechelen and Van Tiggelen was a star for Anderlecht which at the time was one of the best clubs in Europe. I am not sure why these names were mentioned but I wanted to rectify the error!

        1. Good points Jeff. Except for Wijnaldum I don’t think rest of these players have won much in their career. Our best current player Depay has won NOTHING in his career.

          1. Thank you Balkan and wait the players Jan mentioned were the supporting cast among the absolute best players in the world at the time with Cruijff of course, Rensenbrink, Neeskens, Krol, Van Hanegem and on for the 1974 crew and Gullit, Koeman, Rijkaard, Vanenburg, Bosman, Van’t Ship and….Marco Van Basten!! Sorry but if these players including the supporting cast were not the “creme de la creme” then I don’t know who is!!

  4. How’s Frank De Boer justifying using Wijndal and De Roon in the starting 11? I cannot find anything impressive that Wijndal has done for the national team!! Also the experiment with De Roon needs to stop. His passing isn’t great. Gave possession away too many times against Georgia and if it was a better team we would have been punished. Having said that I do believe De Roon won’t start in the first game against Ukraine and I’m hoping Wijndal also.

          1. Daley lacks in speed but makes up with his positioning, crossing/passing/vision. I normally prefer to see wing backs with pace but Wijndal has been so disappointing to watch that makes Daley the right player for that position. Van Anholt has been a bit better the few minutes he came on as a sub.

  5. As a long time lurker and sometime poster…
    Its kind of comforting to see that Wilson and Tiju are still bleating the same nonsense year after year after year. Sure, some of the names have changed… (Remember when Buttner was the answer to all that ails the national team Tiju? I remember that 🙂 )

    Fanatic – def: someone who can’t change their mind and won’t change the subject.

    So some kind advice for the rest… let wilson and Tiju (Emmanuel) do their thing. We can have some objective and positive dialogue about this brilliant team… Frenkie? Memphis? Weghorst? Lets enjoy them. Maybe its over in three games, but after missing the last two tournaments, I’m just excited to see them back.

    1. you are welcome my Friend. I just wanna see NT win a trophy, that all.

      as for Buttner, if only Fergie would have stayed at Man United,you would have ended up eating your own words.

    2. @VaN DEN berg…when you have RVn and Vaart you play kuyt…thats SH^^^^t..We didnt win EC or Wc,,,,,extreme skills of RVp,sneijder,roben and vaart got us there to achive someting …Bottled by poor caoch(except Van gaal)…i was right …
      Then Now
      Is disgusting to see Dumbfry,Winjdal,De roon in squad…while kicking out karsdorp,Malacia,sinkgraven and Danjuma is out side….
      No wonder a guy who selectes van der hoorn over Van dijk for ajax….
      FDB is proving i am more right….
      things going on and we all getiing aged ,after bottling every chance we will say we were not strong,we reached this far blaha blah….

  6. To anyone going forward who feels the need to the write down that the team is going to fail because we don’t have the same level of quality of players as other teams, save your time.

    We all know that our team, player for player is not the quality that it used to be, it’s not the quality of the top National teams.

    But it’s the same as complaining about being unable to reach the cupboard because you’re short, there’s literally nothing we can do about it. There’s no secretly talented players hiding in the weeds that we missed out on, we just have a lull in quality.

    1. who said the team is going to fail? you are simply taking it out of context.

      high or low expectation is based on the quality in the team. Any team will sooner or later lose, its part and parcel of football but its the quality and depth that decides which team will go the furthest, excluding PK or any unforeseen circumstance like goal difference disqualification etc. against all odds even if the team does surpass low expectations, at some point in time its gonna come down to player head to head , quality, depth as seen in the last few tournaments becoming a decisive factor in the knock out stages.

      1. His selection was dubious one either way and given klaassen being FDB’s favourite, he would have received much game time either. Koopmeiners is another one who is most likely going to end up warming the bench.

        De ligt’s injury will be catastrophic. There has been alot of talks about Timber but he still is inexperience. He looks good with ball, composed and is a good passer like Blind but defensively he hasnt shown much and also could a liability in ariel defending.

    1. I’d like to see him pick karsdorp as a replacement now that van de Beek is out. We need a better option on the right side more than we need another center mid

    1. AZ have also open talks with FC Twente for Jayden Oosterwolde, should wijndal leave after euros. In Returen FC Twente have demand for Thijs Oosting and Ferdy Druijf.

      in other news Gertjan Verbeek has been appointed new coach for Almere city. the guy should be coaching a eredivisie side though.

      1. I have not heard of this yet but it might be quite a possibility. I have always been a huge fan of Gertjan, he is a great coach but has very difficult personality.

  7. @Jan about Berghuis:

    I haven’t watched him play much over the last few years to be fair but whenever I see him play he always seems to really slow things down. He loves coming inside to use his left but never really seems a threat to me. He’s always looking for long diagonals or passes backwards. He’s definitely good in possession but just doesn’t scare opposing fullbacks.

    That being said there aren’t many obvious alternatives. The wide areas (fullbacks and wingers) are definitely the weakness of this team.

    1. watch Spain Vs Nertherlds and Mexico vs Netherlands in the last friendlies. in both he started and pay particular attention on the high tempo of the game and his status.

  8. Responding here to the comments from some on my comments about the Golden Generations and them being world class or not…

    Winning an EC1 or UEFA Cup doesn’t mean you’re considered world class. Is Azpilaqueta world class? Because he won the CL? Or is Jorginho world class? Suurbier was much criticised at Ajax for his poor crossing. Rensenbrink was a complete unknown to most of the Dutch fans in 1974.

    Van Aerle and v Tiggelen were seen as water barriers. Erwin Koeman didn’t play at European top. Vanenburg was considered a lost cause by many.

    We now look back at these teams and consider them all heroes, obviously, but back in the day, Haan was seen as an upstart. When JC left Ajax, part of the problem was that all the players thought they were the key guy.

    Like Oranje in 2012, when subs like Huntelaar and Van der Vaart disrupted the team flow.

    Rep’s career after Ajax wasn’t that great. Suurbier, same. Looking back, I think JC, Willem van Hanegem, Neeskens and Krol are considered top players by the mainstream football fan. I don’t think an average football fan in Glasgow, or St Petersburg or Johannesburg could tell you who Rijsbergen was, or Arnold Muhren. When you say World Class, I think Robben, Sneijder, Bergkamp, Van der Sar, Cruyff, that level.

    Rijsbergen didn’t win the EC1 in 1970, he was only 15 years old then.

    You are looking back at history through today’s glasses.

    Will this Oranje have players that we will talk about in 30 years time? I think yes: De Ligt, Frenkie, Wijnaldum, Memphis, Virgil.

    1. Jan, saying the world will be talking about these guys in 30 yrs time is exaggerating. Depay is just an OK striker. Wijnaldum isn’t no Iniesta, nor a Donadoni, Enzo Scifo, Franchescholi, not even an Edgar Davids. These 2 guys are already 27 and 29. Unlesss they do some extraordinary things in the next 4 years, ain’t nobody going to remember them. Stop playing! Also, I’m not saying these guys have to be a Messi, Neymar, or Ronaldo however the first time I saw Bryan Roy played I said to myself this guy can play. The first time I saw Dembele played at Dortmund, I said this guy can play. Ibrahim Affelay can play,Hakim Ziyech can play, Kevin De Bruyne can play and none of them are Lionel Messi. Now I’m seeing a Dutch generation where 90% of these players are just below average. Klassen has zero technical ability as a mid field player. LOL

      1. Wow. Keep on giving me more ammunition Jean :-). I am working on the Gini skipper’s interview now. Next up, my response to your vile attacks 😉

    2. @Jan the trophy is won by excellent keepr plus at least 16- 19 players….We do have quality players of world class..even the productivity and eficacy of Depay ,Malen and Gakpo is supremly good…
      OUR probelm AS PER jEAN VENETTE IS THAT .we lack quality in some players…Doesnt matter youre 15 or 45 or injured for 3 months…if you have quality and you have the fitness to play 120 minutes…its okay…
      To be honestly…Dumbfry,Winjjdal,De roon lacks pure quality they should not be playing euros for dutch NT…sad part is that they are starters…..
      Then you have average ones like Annholt,Berghuis,klassen,Weghorst,luuk,promes etc…
      this makes us difficult to win anything…or else WE MUST HIDE THESE PLAYERS….

      1. Watch this space Tiju. I will only need 2 words to explain to you in my next post why you are wrong. And I will have several other words to further emphasize the first two words.

        1. @Jan your post or my my commnets thats doesnt change anything..any single thing..couple of guys here skeptical about quality of current players…not all 23 … at least 8 to11 players…
          however if winjdal,De roon,Dumbfry is playing a pivotal role in our crowing ,i will admit that i am wrong..i will stop arguing on non quality ..
          i really pray that FDB starts
          these our best selected players in 26..then you have some quality on bench
          Timber,Promes rest are all Just average squad members..

        2. I have to say that Emmanual is right. In terms of world class players, we don’t have that many: De Ligt, De Vrij, Blind, Frenkie, Wij, Memphis and I would include Timber and Grav in that list even though they are both still very young. So yes we need to hide those players who are terrible and bring nothing to the team, especially De Roon but we have many others. Dumfries is very average and I have to say that I have not been impressed by Wijndal so far, which means that to rely on them is suicidal. I would think a coach would want to find a way to play his best players especially in international football where the level is so much less than club football. This means that he has to put a team with De Ligt, De Vrij, Blind, Frenkie, Wij, Grav, Timber and Memphis, that’s it. Those guys whould be the first names on the team sheet. Instead we get De Roon, Dumfries, Weghorst and God knows who else. I hope FDB sees the light and drops his notorious stubbornness!

    3. Jan, not sure where to begin but you are really wrong or do not remember what went on in the 70s and for the 1988 Euro. You are also changing the argumentation by stating that Rep or Suurbier’s careers did not reach the expected highs but that is not the point. Your argument was that such players were barely second rate and total unknowns. My argument is that they clearly were not. Of course, we have to also remember that in those days, there was no internet and instant news all over the world. Players mostly played in their home countries, scouting beyond the borders was unknown (for the most part) and national teams played a style that was deeply rooted in that country’s history, not like now where it is very difficult to identify a specific style of play in international football where everything gets blended into a sort of “multinational and generic” way of playing.
      But to go back to the argument, you say Rensenbrink was a complete unknown, but that is not true at all. He was the absolute star at Anderlecht and in Belgium football, and won the Winner’s cup against West Ham in 1976. Again, Suurbier had won 3 European Cups and so did Rep. Who cares that they did not continue brilliant careers although one could argue that about Rep as well. He played for Bastia (final of UEFA cup in 1978) and then St Etienne with Platini. In those days these teams were top in Europe.
      As for Vanenburg, I have no recollection of anyone stating he was finished. Again he had just won the EC with PSV just before the Euro. Everyone thought Holland had the best team in 1988 before the Euro and were in fact heavy favorites, hence the shock after the loss to the USSR. Gullit had won the Ballon d’Or in 1987 and was a runner-up in 1988. So in summary, both the 1974 and 1988 teams were loaded with top players at every position except Jongbloed in goal in 1974.
      PS: As for Rijbergen, he was 19 in 1970 but did win the UEFA Cup just before the world cup in 1974. Not an unknown. Ask anyone from that generation anywhere in the world and they will remember the blond tackling Rijbergen…and yes even in Glasgow or St Petersburg.

    1. he should be having players on standby. Look at what happened to Spain and how corona virus has hit them out of nowhere hindering their preparation.

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