Oranje’s eye on the prize!

What a season! We saw some incredible football this last season, both domestically as internationally… and we have all the right to be excited about our lads, as our season isn’t even over. Who would have thought: Ajax to progress so far in the CL and two Dutch players lifting the CL trophy, while Oranje is in the race for a real prize as well?

Ironic how the CL finals, between two exciting teams, was so terribly disappointing!

So all the focus is back on Oranje now and the Nations League. Most players are keeping mum about any transfers as they all want to deal with that first trophy first…

So what can we win?

This Nations League is a real prize and reward, for the nation that wins it, but it will not result in a Euro tournament ticket! It’s important to keep reminding people.

The qualification for the Euros is a separate competition and Holland has 3 points after 2 games (win vs Belarus and a loss vs Germany). As Holland won the Nations League group, we are entitled to play offs should we not qualify organically. That play off ticket has nothing to do with the upcoming games though.

Prestige and money are the only things at stake now. Today, the Nations League doesn’t mean a lot, but in 1960, when the first European Championship was played, that didn’t mean much either. In 1960, there were only four nations competng. And the Soviet Union won it. But, today that tournament is a big thing and the Soviets are really in the history books. This Nations League might grow into something like that too and why not win it if you can?

The Dutch FA has already made 4,5 Mio Euros by reaching this level. We can earn another 6 Mio Euros if we win the whole thing. We can also add more coefficiency points for Dutch football if we do well, that is also important!

Oranje will go into the games (England on Thursday evening and the finals or losers-finals on Sunday) with a lot of positive vibes. Ajax did ever so well. De Roon and Hateboer will be buoyant, Gini and Virgil obtained legend status, and for most players, the season prior was really good.

England will have a mix of disappointed and tired players (Spurs) and confident players (Chelsea, City, Liverpool). Overall, England might be a tad more leggy, as all their players do play in the toughest league and most also played a World Cup last Summer… That might just be the difference.

Oranje will be fresh and eager, England might be a bit more tired. We’ll see

Fact is that coach Southgate has done really well with his young squad and he’s moved away from the 5-3-2 he used against Koeman’s Oranje in the first match the former Barca Snowflake coached for us (lost 0-1). England is now all 4-3-3 with speedy forwards (Santo, Sterling, Rashford), a strong hold up player / target man in Kane and offensive full backs.

Koeman will most likely play the 4-2-3-1 to counter the Poms and it’s highly likely that Gini and Virgil will start.

Ronald Koeman was briefly the topic of a debate in Holland, when news seaped through from Spain that Barca might be eyeing the former defender as the new head coach. Koeman always said it was his dream to one day coach the Catalonians. But, he also said coaching Oranje was his dream, so… Only two days ago, he ended the debate, saying that he gave his word to the KNVB and will not abandon Oranje mid project. Good on him!

“It’s about time we start and play a match. I am getting antsy. We had time with half the squad in Zeist, we went to Portugal to prepare too. Everyone is keen and fit and we can’t wait to finally start the game. Virgil and Gini will start, they won’t feel any fatigue or knocks, not after winning the CL. And yes, I will have to disappoint some lads. That is what it is. It’s the job. If I couldn’t do this, I would be fit for a coach,” Koeman said.

And he went on: “We are looking good. I think as a squad we made progress, we play well together and we can play different systems. The players all have developed further individually as well and the spirit in the team is excellent. We are keen, we are hungry and we know who we are, again. England is a touch opponent though, as they are not much different from us. Young players, creativity and flair, they are hungry too and are capable of playing different styles and systems. I think England will be one of the favorites to win the EC 2020 actually.”

Koeman is positive. “I think we can beat them, sure. We didn’t have to lose against them two years ago, even. And we only got better and we are very eager. If you win and things go well, you don’t feel the fatigue. In 1988 I won the European Cup with PSV and we went on to win the Euros too. Yes, it’s a long season but you live for this sortathing.”

Mathijs de Ligt is constantly asked about his future. The young Ajax skipper has decided to keep his mouth shut until after the Nations League. Rumours abound, of course. Koeman: “This lad.. he’s only 19 years old but plays like a 25 year old. The sheer fact he is captain of Ajax and has players like Schone, Tadic and Ziyech who allow him to lead, that says a lot. And he’s smart. Eager to learn and to keep on doing extra work. I have talked to him about his future, yes, but that remains between us. I just hope he moves to a big club, he’s ready for it.”

England midfielder Declan Rice caused some controversy when he said earlier in an interview that he will stop Frenkie de Jong from playing “even if he has to get dirty”. Koeman doesn’t think England will resort to negative play though. Koeman: “I think he didn’t mean it literally. I think he simply talks about maybe man marking Frenkie. There is no real opportunity for dirty play anymore as there will be a VAR anyway. But if he means physical, I think Frenkie won’t mind, as it will give him opportunities. And we have players who can hold their own in that kind of play.”

It is going to be interesting to see who Koeman will use… He usually sticks to the core he has. As we saw with the squad… A player like Weghorst will have to do a lot, to replace Luuk de Jong. That is part of how Koeman works.

With Donny van de Beek having such a sensational season, a lot of people expect Koeman to replace De Roon with Van de Beek. I am not sure. Playing England will probably mean Ronald will want to make sure the balance is right. I can see Van de Beek starting from the bench, and once we reach the finals vs Portugal, he might decide to use Van de Beek. Portugal will probably play reaction football and we might not need the extra “destroyer” in midfield.

On the other hand, hardworking and dynamic Donny might be the right man to cover the left flank, should Sterling play there. To assist left back Blind.

I think we’ll see Cillesen in goal, De Ligt and Van Dijk centrally in defence. We’ll probably see strong, tall and quick Dumfries on the right and Blind on the left. We might see Donny left on midfield, with Frenkie centrally and Wijnaldum on the right… Upfront, I’m pretty sure Promes will play on the right (more in a controlling role) and Babel and Memphis a bit more forward.

Next post will be about the England game… I do have quite some good stuff awaiting you: interview with Donny, interview with Ten Hag and some more goodness…

Below, the interview with Koeman before the England game we lost, 2 years ago… With some old footage and subtitles..

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  1. I would hope to see this starting 11 in the future.

    Promes Depay Bergwijn

    Van De Beek Wijnaldum

    Freenkie De Jong

    Blind De Ligt Van Dijk Dumfries


    I think Van De Beek can win over De Roon’s spot. Babel is getting hold, he can not fulfill the defense responsibility in this current system under Koeman for full game. Time for Promes and Bergwijn to take over. Bergwijn needs a break out game in NT.

  2. I really wish Van Persie or Robben would be available for 15-20 mins if needed. Huntelaar also. I know RVP hung his boots recently , sadly. But let’s hope for the best. VVD-DeLigt can be the world’s best defender duo in recent memory.
    Regarding golden ball, Ronaldo increased chances of winning it with his 3 goals yesterday and will cement it if Portugal wins on Sunday. On the other hand same can be true for VVD if we make it to Sunday and win it.
    Hup Holland!

  3. Yes i do wish we had Roben for last 20 minutes..Between England pretty scared of Virgil and Deligt…They will avoid from center play..they are desperate to target our wings..i think Blind will be tormented…i really wish Koeman plays Annholt for Blind since streling and Sancho are too pacy for Blind…that willbring entire defense to collapse no matter how Good Virgil or Deligt..
    My pray is cillessen that he doesnt make any howler mistake to concede easy goal like that stupid stekelenburg conceded against Pogba..

      1. Thats another scary part.. another one is blind Vs sterling vs sancho…
        We need to win midfeild.Donny van debeek with Depay babel and berjwin would be one hell for England…thats not the case with Gini..Ake would be an instant suceess at DM like dumfires as RB did vs france..
        –Dejong——-Van de beek——-
        Of late Bizot is so exceptional and so confident…he was stunning…

        1. As per usual, people think Blind will be outplayed by speedy players. And as per usual, it didn’t happen. Blind played a super match, with the pass of the match as well on Promes, on the left touch line. Blind played often vs fast opponents (for Man U and for Oranje) and hardly ever got in trouble.

          As per usual, people see it wrong 😉

  4. De Ligt is really not having a good game! Dumphries bailed him out there.

    Van de Beek is needed in the midfield, and I would replace Babel as well (Promes?) and move Memphis wider.

  5. 1 one howler they got penalty…they scored..Cillessen was good on play but as usual did ever stopped penalty??no chance i dont blame him..we are better side ..pace is litlle too much for us..

  6. De Ligt could have redeemed himself there and missed. He looks shaken.

    Memphis is playing well. That could have been a penalty when he was pulled down.

    Half time

  7. We should win this Nation league..its now or never…Deligt lost little confidence it seems..Sharpness of van de beek missed at final third..

    1. We should win it???? Based on what? To win a game you need to show up first and it seems like we’re ready for a vacation. England seems better focused.

  8. If Wijnaldum passed to Depay instead of shooting the defender’s legs something would have happened. Some of our players are not showing sharpness and it feels like they don’t think much of this game.

  9. Dumfries looks like a beer league player out there, definitely not this quality.

    Babel and Bergwijn haven’t done a lot.

    I actually don’t mind de Roon in the midfield, he adds a bit of defensive qualities.

    In the past Milan employed a 4-3-2-1 when they lacked wingers (which is what we do). They would play with 2 attacking midfielders behind Inzaghi. Might be an option for us until we get real wingers.

  10. De Ligt is still a kid and all that attention around his persona definitely affects his alertness.

    I still think our attack is very inert. With Weghosrt’s non-stop moves back and force, the space would have been opened for Depay.

    I hope Koeman will find a right solution to over-turn this game. So far very poor performance.

  11. I was skeptical of de Roon but he has been fine. Wijnaldum has been good other than hacking everyone from behind. Disappointed in Dumphries. He killed all momentum on a very nice run of play by just pulling up and launching an aimless cross from outside the box. Bergwijn has been reasonable.

    My vote is for van de Beek

  12. Should have brought Danjuma together

    I don’t see anyone on the bench as a game changger. Perhaps ake or Van de Beek are the only one

    We just lack strong attacking players who can really penetrate . Perhaps Ziyech was the missing puzzle but it’s too late now

  13. De ligt made a silly mistake. He is lucky it wasn’t a red. His focus was off. All this transfer drama needs to be settled ASAP. He’s had enough time to analyze his options. I think his agent is complicating things and dragging this out so that one of the clubs trumps Barca’s offer and pays the agent fee.

    England’s wingers have been active more on the their left side than the right. Dumfries has been busy with Sancho the whole time. Offensively, he has been a mixed bag with his passes.

    The offense is pretty impotent now. Depay doesn’t look sharp. Babel and Bergwijn have not done much.

    I think Van de Beek should come in. Koeman should sacrifice either Wijnaldum or De Roon. I would say De Roon because England looks like they have moved back after their goal.

  14. Frenkie has played well in this match. Much better than some of his final games for Ajax…

    Memphis looks dangerous but his final touch is killing him.

    Promes seems to be able to shoot high…

  15. Thank you Memphis for cancelling that Lindgraad Goal…Memphis blew one chance so is van de beek…they should have calmly burried…
    Another nerve wrecking 30 min…

  16. Whatever the outcome, promising Oranje. We are on the right track. I like the fighting spirit and physical qualities of this team. With some further improvement in the forward line we should be in good shape by next year.

    1. I agree. Not the best of games but a win is a win. England just self-destructed and we took advantage.
      We really need someone to step up in offense. Promes did well but Memphis has been atrocious with his finishing. I don’t know if it is fatigue or what but Koeman needs some new players like Danjuma to break into this squad during the qualifiers to lead the line when Memphis is having an off night.

  17. Van de Beek: “Let’s go score!”
    Wijnaldum: “Let’s kill the game!”
    Van de Beek: “Let’s go score!”
    Wijnaldum: “Let’s kill the game!”

  18. Memphis could possibly have 5 goals today. Not sharp at all from a finishing perspective. His final pass has been off as well. But he’s still been very dangerous.

    Harry Kane has been dangerous as well, but de Ligt has generally been dealing with him…

    1. His finishing was bad: He had practically a sitter at the end of regulation off the centering pass and completely muffed it–terrible. You can’t futz chances like that. The Netherlands was easily the better team today but you have to finish you chances.I think it was Bergwijn who scuffed a good opportunity not long before that–on that play in the 80s when they had the VAR review of the shot that hit the English defender in the back.

  19. Memphis was horrible today.
    We displayed an impressive level of resilience, fighting spirit and confidence. Van Dijk is the glue. deLigt suffocated Kane. Also we had ton of luck but it is needed in order to win at this level. A lot to learn and improve still and hope we get over the finish line on Sunday.

  20. England poor.

    Holland, other than CB, CM, Blind OK, GK, OK, Koeman needs to have a rethink about front options.

    I want to see Badou and Malen get a chance up top. Memphis wide.

    I love what Memphis has done for Holland over the last year or so. he has stepped up. But he’s not a natural striker and at times it tells.

    He can be just as effective and potent operating of another mobile striker.

    I give Koeman credit that he has bonded the players, created solidarity and strong base…. but come on, move on to the next stage, and start experimenting.

    Sorry to be critical when we have won, but I believe the talents that we have coming through, we can show much much more than this.

    1. Ronaldo is at home and on fire. It will be a tough game. Everyone has to be clinical. Memphis missing 5 scoring chances will not get it done. Koeman has his work cut out for him. This was a good warm-up game for Sunday. Hopefully, they got a bit of their rhythm and chemistry going.

  21. Trust me, guys, in front we need to try Weghorst. Dutch front lacks intensity and he will bring it. Myron Boadu is too young and not an Oranje material yet.

  22. I actually thought we played pretty well. We controlled the midfield for the majority of the game and kept England on their heels. There were some momentary lapses of reason, but if Memphis is finishing chances, we have 5 or 6 goals against a pretty quality English side.

    The front line is iffy, but the addition of Promes helped a great deal. I think the addition of van de Beek was a real positive as well and Frenkie played pretty well. Dumfries was a weak link though. Maybe he’ll get better but he was a momentum killer. Cillessen looked surprised everytime he had to make a save.

    I don’t see the solution up front on the current squad, but I’m hopeful that one will be revealed soon.

    Looking forward to Sunday!

      1. Please dont remmber battle of Nuremburg…It cost us a WC.we were fantastic team,Only to get spoiled by Not playing Babel or RVN as main striker..Any Speedy/Trickery guy up would have done the Job for us..

    1. Agree about the front line. It ultimately worked today, but I have mixed feelings about Babel and Bergwijn. Babel is great at pressing, and switches from offense to defense so well, but he doesn’t have a lot of penetrating quickness to spare; Bergwijn runs hot and cold on attack, and had a couple of great moves. But creative?

      Memphis had two stellar steals, and a basket of botched shots. I’d hate to say he has a lack of confidence at the moment, but all the negativity about his book may be a tad rattling; I’d hate to imagine worrying about reaction from some of the game’s greatest coaches in the run-up to these finals. Had a couple of stinker passes that made me wince.

      Promes’ fresh legs were great to have. But to start against Portugal? I’d guess we’ll see Bergwijn and Babel again.

      Dumfries is quick going forward, solid and quick in defense… but his vision in the final third just evaporates sometimes. He loves to fly forward, and I love it, too, but he needs more snap at the end of the run.

      And van de Beek is talented, has fine vision, but he’s not so fast. In either direction. Is he? In a high-pressing match against Portugal that may be a vulnerability.

      Koeman is much smarter than I, thank goodness, and often surprises with his line-up, so we’ll see what’s up with Portugal. Fingers crossed. No real knocks today, yes?

    1. They are playing at home so they have that advantage. Ronaldo as you said only needs a split second to make a difference. Bernardo Silva is another one to keep an eye on. Lot of hype surrounding Joao Felix. He didn’t do much versus the Swiss so he maybe more motivated to perform in the final. They have a good veteran goalkeeper in Rui Patricio.

      Overall, I don’t think Portugal are a much weaker side than England. We can’t afford Memphis missing 5 golden chances. I like Van der Beek a lot. His off the ball movement is great and he gets into good scoring positions and just changes the dynamics of the game when he comes on. Both him and Promes added a bit more purpose in the offense when they came on.

      We do have weak spots on offense, wingers and attacking midfield positions but I think it is a winnable game. It would be great for the team’s morale and confidence if we can secure the cup on Sunday in Portugal against Ronaldo.

      1. Against Portugal is a matter of line up. If we play with 532 like in last friendly, we have a very good chance to win. If we play 433 against Portugal’s 442, we will get into trouble. Portugal’s extra midfielder always got us into trouble against our 433. That’s why we have such a poor record against Portugal.

  23. Just saw the game. Thought it was a really tense, hard fought match. England’s first goal was against the run of play, Oranje was the better team in the first half, and controlled the ball and the game right up until De ligt tied it up. England picked it up in the last 20 minutes, and both teams traded chances. Combination of both teams going for it, and fatigue, I think. Oranje deserved that win.

    Re the players. Didn’t think Babel contributed much. Other than that I didn’t have a problem with any of the performances. Bergwijn had some moments, and Dumfries was up and and down. Seemed to have alot of space on multiple occasions, but his touch let him down. He made some awfully good defensive plays, and overall was a good defender. He is still young and raw, and could develop into a very fine player. Time will tell.

    Players I thought were particularly good: De Roon, he did his job; read the game, played with bite. Blind, was very good; VDV were a good partnership, held the line when England made a big push in the last 20 minutes. The MF got a little overrun in that period, and the backline was left to do some difficult, desperate defending.
    De ligt had a bad moment but overall was strong. Memphis—don’t know what to say; he had four terrific chances, you would have thought he would have put at least a couple away. But he led the line, and put pressure on the defense. Frenkie was outstanding.

    Van De Beek played his game when he came in and the attack was better. One thing I didn’t like…there were a few times he could/should have closed down an offensive player on the ball; on the Lingard non-goal, and a couple of other times.

    Credit to Koeman for his in game coaching. Promes, along with Van De Beek, improved the offense when they came on. And the Propper move was very good. Putting him next to FDJ stemmed the push England had over the last 20 minutes of regulation Wijnaldum slid over to an outside spot and was just fine out there (is there a position on the field he can’t play?).

    Excellent win. I do worry about them on Sunday—how much they’ll have left on two days rest, and I’m guessing that at least a few of the players won’t come out of this game fit enough to start. But Portugal usually plays it cagey, not a high tempo, so that will help.

    Been a terrific year for the NT. One more to go.

    1. Van De Beek’s strolling defense is painful to watch, he played with more intensity than this when playing defense at Ajax. Not sure why his defense is so bad in this game. Maybe Koeman informed him just to get to position and not press? It’s kind of weird.

  24. I dont think there will any changes for the final unless late causalites.but I do hope koeman will bring in changes come around december during qualifers. This will also see the most of the leagues reaching the half way mark. Potential players vaying for positions in euros should have made their mark by then. I mean the likes of malen, lammers or if any for that matter. The second half of the qualifers should be when koeman should start injecting them leading to euros and other friendlies.

    Few things I will point out. My prediction was right about Bergwijn.he doesnt have the cutting edge to become a top winger and will fade out when competition kicks in from potential other wingers coming up the pipe line. Stengs etc.

    Depay I would say has become sluggish to some extent. This has also been evident at Lyon coming towards the end ofthe season. If NT would have gone to loss the game. Depay would have been the talking point for not taking buring the chances when it came to him.at this moment the strikers position suits him best in NT but he contiues to drift to the left with no one in the middle contrary to what we see traditional striker do. A 4-4-2 formation would suit him best but there is pros and cons in playing that and plus the NT does not have the midfielders who can play in that system. I always admire Simeone approach at athletico no matter who they play. If Nt had another frenkie, they would have been dominant to a bigger extent in 4-4-2 formation.

    1. I wouldn’t say that Depay was “sluggish.” I was actually amazed at his work rate in this game–he played hard from beginning to end, was very active. He just needed to knock a couple of those balls in the back of the next.

      This is a very athletic and skilled group. The Dutch spent a lot of time kicking the ball around in the middle of the field, with England sitting back, and it is hard to score against good teams when they’ve got 8 behind the ball. What’s nice is that possession often leads to corner kicks,and we’ve got some guys who can score off corners. I thought overall the team played well perhaps could have been more effective in transition, which is where goals are to be had in this game. I can see The Netherlands being a serious challenger in the next Euro and World Cup.

  25. My take after I watched the game a second time with a cool head:
    – Depay: worked really hard and his pressing pushed England into defensive mistakes. Tried to be spectacular when playing simple really is the clear way to go.
    – deJong: no words to describe. At 22 he is by no doubt one of the best if not the best in the world. The ease with which he controls space and manages his passes is just a beauty to watch. And he plays with heart and leaves it on the field.
    deLigt: most of us focused on his mistake . He picked himself up and immensely improved as game wore on. He plays with a swagger and never gives up . In the second half he was almost perfect in covering Kane. He makes himself 10 times bigger than he really is. It gives me the impression of a very smart kid even outside the field. I had a deep feeling he would correct his mistake by scoring and he did. Majestic player.
    – Van Dijk: imperial as usual.
    – Promes: very quick and strong. Changed the game in my opinion. I wish he showed more maturity when the game was clearly won and he started behaving like Ronaldo in his old days. A little respect for the defeated shows nobility.
    – Blind: love him. Never gives less than 100%.
    – deBeek: I feel he can do more. He seemed slow when pressing or tracking back. But he has great potential.
    This is a team very different from previous ones. They are proud fighters who do not give up and play with and for each other. I have not been more proud and happy myself since the days of Van Basten, Gullit and Rijkaard but even those guys sometimes lost their heads and screwed up. This team seems to cope well under pressure and keep their heads. Praying for a long due revenge on Sunday.

  26. For those interested, the Dutch women’s team is playing in the women’s World Cup, which starts today in France.

    Our initial round of games are June 11 (vs New Zealand), June 15 (vs Cameroon), and June 20 (vs Canada).

    The Dutch team is the current Euro champs and seen as a contender for the WC this year as well.

    The level of play is obviously not the same, but as women’s football goes, the Dutch team is pretty entertaining!

    1. I will definitely follow. I read a detailed article on Guardian about Holland and it seems like we have some fantastic players. One is England’s league best player I believe, Miedema? I hope they win the whole thing. It will be hard to watch a USA-Holland game though if it comes to that. Cheering for both but Orange has been in my heart since I was a little kid.

  27. Agree with Richarde and Balkan on Depay; I actually thought he worked really hard. He didn’t score on any of his chances, but he wouldn’t have gotten them but for his work rate. He had major contributions to all three goals.

    @JB, thanks for the Women’s WC schedule. I’ve also been reading up on the NT a bit; if what I read is accurate, they have a strong attacking group and could be one of the more entertaining teams in the tournament.

    1. Our team surprised as the hosts of the Euros in 2017, overcoming much more highly rated sides like England, Norway and Sweden to win the final against Denmark

      I would say Lieke Martens is our top player. She’s probably the women’s team’s version of Robben – very fast with good dribbling and attacking skill. She was the 2017 FIFA player of the year, plays for Barcelona, and is my daughter’s favorite.

      Vivianne Miedema is the primary striker, and is perhaps their version of RVP — she plays for Arsenal as well. Good finisher, generally in the right place at the right time, and with some play-making skills too.

      Shanice van de Sanden is a big and powerful wing who opponents struggle to contend with. She plays for Lyon, currently the top women’s club team. She looks a little like Memphis but is built more like Virgil.

      Danielle van de Donk is the play-making midfielder. Another Arsenal star, she’s their equivalent of Sneijder.

      Finally, Jackie Groenen is another solid all-around midfield that enables the other four to get forward and attack. Maybe a little like Frenkie. She’s now at Man United.

      While we remain one of the younger and less experienced teams, I think we really have a lot of talent. And although teams like the US and France are heavily favored and I really hope we do well!

  28. I remember watching the Women win Euro 2017, and wishing the men could play (and I mean play in every sense of the word) in the same swashbuckling, fast paced, attack minded, technically gifted style.

    Hopefully our ladies play in the same manner as that would really send vibrations around the world!

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