Memphis Depay signed a deal with Barcelona. In the past, this would have been a major headline in The Netherlands and maybe across Europe. Not today. The Euros are on and Denzel Dumfries appears to be way more in demand than our #10.
Oranje scored 5 goals and Dumfries was involved with all (scoring two of them). His rushes, his strength, his aerial strength, his speed, it’s been noted across the globe. Where originally Everton seemed in pole position to sign the former Sparta talent, today the likes of Juventus, Inter and Bayern Munich have joined, while apparently the whole English football community has him on the radar.
Dumfries was playing with the Barendrecht amateurs in 2014, when 17 years old, telling his mates he would start working on improving himself so “he could claim the RB spot in Oranje”. Sparta signed him and when coach Alex Pastoor allowed him his debut, he was at fault for 3 goals in his first 45 minutes. He asked his coach if he could be subbed, during the half time break. Pastoor refused. “This is what will make you better!”.
He went to PSV via SC Heerenveen and his journey hasn’t ended yet. Is there anything Dumfries can’t do? “Hahaha, there is lots I need to do better. My positioning play is weak and needs to get better. So I can have more time on the ball and make better decisions. I also think my cross needs to improve. My overall yield needs to improve, although this Euros is going well for me.” Asked whether he has enough energy to sustain his game in this tournament: “Of course, we only just started! I have heaps of energy. And I don’t need motivating either.”
Ryan Gravenberch is another publicity magnet. His performances at Ajax in the Champions League has caught the eye of many and like Dumfries, he’s a sought after talent. Where Dumfries played at the amateur level at 17, Gravenberch made his debut for Ajax. Dumfries: “I am totally in awe of that kid. I see him now, he’s so mature, and level headed. When I was his age, I went to high school with my mates and trained three evenings in the week. Over the years, I matured as a player and as a man. Ryan is there already.”
Gravenberch: “It is going fast yes. I really have trouble keeping tally. It’s hard to process it as the next game is already around the corner. The Ajax season was tough, I had times in the winter where I struggled with my energy. Now I’m fine again. I usually need a couple of days to recharge. Otherwise, I am very happy. It’s great to be with Oranje, this is a truly amazing group of players. And yes, I do want to play more, of course, but it’s not for me to say. Should the coach need me, I’ll be ready.”
There is a fair chance that Frank de Boer will make the decision to rest players vs North Macedonia.
It’s a tough schedule, after a tough season. Frank de Boer will take the input from the medical staff and scrutinise the data to see which player should rest. In the past Oranje had a situation like this before: in 2006, we won the first two group games and could rest the A-team against Argentina. The result was a break of rhythm for the A-list, and our first knock-out match (v Portugal) became a debacle. Or even worse: a national embarrassment (the Battle of Neurenberg). In 2008, we were in another Group of Death, but after beating Italy and France, we were up against Romania and Van Basten again rested some key players. The break of rhythm might have contributed to the loss vs Hiddink’s Russia in the knock out stages.
What is better: keep the first team together and in rhythm? With the risk of injuries or fatigue later down the track? Or is it better to let some fresh legs play? To keep the others save but also to give the B-team a chance to present themselves. That might contribute to the group dynamics.
It’s a tough call. Only De Boer in combination with his players will be able to decide this.
I have the feeling Frank will use the players from the A team who are still super fit. He also suggested he might go for Plan B, which is the “Italian version”, with a right winger in the team, whereas the left winger has a free role.
I hope Frank will use the 4-3-3 as a template. As both Gini and Frenkie are key to our success, I hope Frank will play like this: