Oranje’s new direction

Before the Estonia match, Koeman announced he would make some changes and test some ideas… He never is the type to test things while in the race for a prize or trophy, but now, qualified as we were, he was happy to experiment.

At first sight, it didn’t look much like an experiment: 4 defenders, 2 holding mids, a deep striker… But in reality there were indeed some interesting changes…

The most remarkable one was a decision that yours truly already suggested here a number of times: use Quincy Promes as the right wing back instead of Dumfries or Veltman.

Dumfries lacks positional / tactical nous and ball skills but offers speed and power. Veltman lacks speed and power but offers neat passing and experience. But both are just not good enough (for now).

So with most of our opponents playing without an out and out left winger and with our team playing with a left back who lacks the legs to race up and down the flank, why not use the right flank for a player who can – basically – do everything!

He can score, he can dribble, he can run, he can assist, he reads the game well and he’s game: Quincy Promes as right wing back!

And with a right winger who hardly plays on the right wing, a midfielder like Van de Beek and a wing back like Promes can utilise that space.

Stengs was the right winger vs Estonia and he demonstrated to have earned the right to be in the squad. Of course, left footed Berghuis can play in this role too as can Mo Ihattaren and Bergwijn.

Depay came from the left, with marathon man Patrick van Aanholt behind him, and Luuk de Jong as deep striker.

Some elements which Koeman can use…

Luuk de Jong as distractor for Memphis

The comeback at home vs Northern Ireland opened up this option in Koeman’s mind. The Lyon striker couldn’t find an opening against this defensive opponent. Once Memphis went to the left, with Luuk in de team, he found the key to unlock the Northern Irish door.

Against Estonia, Luuk de Jong didn’t impress. He had a supporting role and only one attempt on goal. But as a distractor, he’s really useful.

Luuk de Jong blocks the defender allowing Promes time and space

In the 6th minute, he creates the space for Memphis and then he sets a block so Promes can come in possession and assist Gini’s first goal. Luuk makes his move to the near post and creates space for Gini’s header.

Luuk going near post, binding 2 defenders

Same thing with Oranje’s second goal. Luuk makes a dart to the far post creating space for Ake. Two defenders are with Luuk and Ake has a relatively easy header.

Luuk de Jong takes 2 defenders with him when jumping to the far post

And Ake can enter the space vacated by De Jong & Co

And the fact that in both cases, Memphis creates the goals makes the picture complete. Memphis is rested after the break and Myron Boadu takes his spot. And by then it’s clear that this is a good tactics to use against teams parking the bus.

Memphis’ heat map of the first half. No longer needed as target man upfront, now free to roam

Power on the wings

The position of the backs have been a discussie topic for years. Denzel Dumfries and Joel Veltman miss the composure, technique and vision in the final stage of their rush forward. Something Blind has in spades on the other side, but Daley lacks the pace and the power. The lacklustre performance on the right prompted Koeman to use a different option: Quincy Promes. Estonia was a good opportunity to test his ability. Koeman: “Promes as right back is a solution for the future, in particular against these types of opponents. Because Promes can do everything. He can play winger, he can assist, score, run, but he’s also strong in the duels. And when we need to defend, well…he needs to defend. That’s normal.”

Van Aanholt can do what Promes does on the left. They both show power on the wings and keep on running up and down. This allows Stengs, Memphis and Boadu to find space in the half spaces or midfield. Promes again proves his value by his assist on Wijnaldum (1-0).

Van Aanholt pressing high

It’s also remarkable how Oranje presses with high intensity and high risk. Van Aanholt almost presses the back on to their corner flag. When he does, Ake moves forward as well. This style of pressing resembles what Ajax does. Usually, Oranje plays it less risky. This does show vs Estonia, as a number of times, the forwards press up and the defenders stay in place, allowing Estonia – pretty limited team – to find a way out.

The high press leaving the rest defence wanting at times

The forward pressing backs… The conclusion: with two of them pressing high, the risk is higher but so is our threat. Organisationally, it’s a problem, as the rest defence is vulnerable with both backs gone. This is why Koeman enjoyes playing a more stable deep lying play-making back on the left (Daley Blind) and a marauding right back on the other side (Dumfries, Promes).

Creativity in midield

The most positive aspect of the Estonia tactics, is the way our midfield operates. The recent 0-0 vs Northern Ireland is a good example of the way Oranje played defensive minded opponents. A lot of possession, not enough creativity up front and fully depending on the intelligence of Frenkie de Jong. Whenever the opponent sacrifices a man marker for De Jong, we get ourselves into trouble. In this system, less so. Koeman uses a strong passer of the ball next to De Jong (Davy Propper), which allows for a quicker pass forward than with De Roon. Promes and Van Aanholt are also good build up passers (as is Blind of course). Memphis and Stengs can bring their creativity from the flanks, something Oranje needed badly. Babel – despite his work ethics – couldn’t deliver this too well. Combined with the runs from midfield from Wijnaldum, Memphis and Stengs had ample options for the combination. Wijnaldum’s hattrick has everything to do with this.

The typical Oranje field positions. The full backs are widest. The wingers are in the half spaces. The #10 is close to the striker

With free-style wandering wingers and controlling midfielders who will continuously press up, Holland has a lot of variance and options through the centre. There are constantly different players popping up in certain areas, the Estonia defenders were played drunk. With more time, Koeman will be able to bring in more “automatisms” between the players.

The 4-0 is a good example of Holland’s dynamics. It’s Stengs that pops up in the #10 role and turns the ball around. Sub striker Weghorst makes a run to the left, allowing space for Boadu (left winger) and Wijnaldum (#10) to make a run in behind. Stengs has the skill to find Wijnaldum and the Liverpool midfielder finishes coolly. Two assists in this game for Stengs, a goal for Boadu and a number of positives for Ronald Koeman.

Bookmark and Share


  1. Now we just wait for the draw at end of this month. our draw will be something like this:

    Play off winner A/C/D

    Group of death for us will be

    Best Scenario group for us will be

    If we can avoid Portugal and Turkey in Pot 3, and Serbia in Pot 4, then it would be a good draw for us.

    Good thing is we play three home games during group stage.

  2. We have two more friendlies in March, one is against Spain at home. Koeman already said he will try out some new players in March. And we probably have two more friendlies in June before the tournament begin to test out the team chemistry.

    For now I think 12 of the final 23 players are set.

    Depay, Freenkie De Jong, Van Dijk and Wijnaldum will be our four core players.

    Cillissen, Blind, De Ligt will have a starting spot.

    Ake, De Vrij, De Roon, Propper, Promes have a spot in the squad.

    1. The other opponent in March might be Portugal. And it is said Koeman might want three friendly games just before Euro between end of May and the tournament start, which might be a lot of games.

  3. Gk

    Zoet, Bizot, Vermeer, Krul will fight for the two sub spot.


    The four CBs are almost set if no injuries for the regular 4.


    Van Aanholt, Willems, Pieters, Haps will fight for the sub spot.


    Dumfries, Karsdorp, Hateboer, Veltman, Maybe Tete, Janmaat, Fosu-Mensah (just got back to training at Man U)will fight for the two spots.

  4. Midfield

    Strootman, Vilhena, Van De Beek, Ihattaren,and maybe Vormer, Klaassen, Maher, Rosario, Til,Koopmeiers, Eiting (just got back from injury and I think 6 months might be enough for him to make a statement about himself) will fight for the 2 or 3 spots left in midfield.


    Boadu, Justin Kluivert, Stengs, Dirlosun, Malen, Bergwijn, Weghorst, Berghuis, Luuk De Jong, Babel, Maybe Gakpo, Lammers (just got back to training), Danjuma, El Ghazi, Boetius, Locadia will fight for the 4 spots left.

    1. Yep, all pretty spot on, although Donny van de Beek is not a question mark, I don’t think. I think Ihattaren is also secure (I think they promised him a spot if he would pick Holland). Strootman might be the man dropping off…

      Malen, Bergwijn and Stengs will also have big star behind their names.

  5. Koeman have three final questions to answer:

    1. Who should play at RB?
    Promes would work against a weaker team,but who should we play here against strong team? I don’t fully trust Dumfries, I hope to see Karsdorp and Hateboer get a chance.

    2. Who should play the deep laying midfield role?
    Propper would work against lesser teams, De Roon was used against strong teams but I do not fully trust him. We do not have that many good options here, but I hope to see Ake given a chance at this spot. It’s a luxury to leave him on the bench.

    3. Who should partner with Depay at the front line? And who should be our super sub here?

    Promes, Babel, Bergwijn, Malen, Stengs, Boadu, Dirlosun, many interesting options but how should we partner them?

    Solve all these problems, then we are in good shape for the glory next year.

    1. I think the team only has one major issue
      Right Back and Left Back. If we have someone much better than Blind, and find a good Right Back, we could win this. We do have several options up front, mid field and defense. The other teams does not have better options than us. We only need and better RB and LB.

  6. Even if we do not win in 2020, it could set us up for 2022. Dutch youth system is getting back on track.

    U21 is undefeated (7w 1d) for this year.The only draw comes from the first game of the year against USA U23.

    U20 won the Elite Leauge last season which contains(Portugal, Germany, Spain, Italy, England,Poland, Czech and Switzerland)

    U17 has won two Euro champions in a row and was fourth place in the world cup which just ended.

    Xavi Simmons, Ryan Gravenberch, Brobbery, Zirkzee, Redan, Braaf, Unuvar, Van Den Berg, Maatsen, Hoever, Hoogwerf, Sontje Hansen, Kenneth Taylor, Tabbouni, Rensch, Regeer, Chong, Wijndal can all be great for the future.

    1. Big time, the only thing that shouldnt happen to this contingent of young talents is them getting wasted as result of bad decisions leading to big transfers.

  7. Koeman will experiment a little in March but come the finals he will only play his trusted 11 no matter what. And L deJong+Babbel will be part of the final 23. If he didn’t have the guts to test new players when it mattered with easy opponents he won’t be testing anything when the real thing kicks in. Last game against Estonia was an exception due to player personal issues/injuries and it really didn’t matter much as a game.

    1. Don’t forget though: players get injured and lose form.

      For every big tournament, we always had a key player with injuries. Babel himself missed two tournaments due to injuries. Van Nistelrooy, Van der Vaart, Robben, Van Persie… there are always some at the end of a long season.

    2. Difference between koeman and Fert van marwijk is that ,even in friendly game Ferrt will play same 11..koeman doesnt do that..
      He has flow in his so called trusted 11.
      1-Babel is a nice player,His age is wrong side and his lack of work rate affects the total movemnets of other players..Promes would be better choice..
      2-there is no way berjwin is better than Stengs…
      3-Blind stays back against strong opponents this limits our game from left end,but still our left side looks better than right.obiviously you see Georgia,finland in knock out ruounds of EC/WC to play BLIND higher up..
      4-Right wing is IMPOTENT with dumfries and Veltman..This takes back our game a lot..
      5-De Roon is not on the level of Frenkie and Gini..we need a better DM.
      6–Even if you make all 5 fault correct you loose it with Cillessen,Zoet,krul,Stekelnburg as Gks they concede when it matters,i mean silly goal concedding at vital moments this forces our team to fight back and loos energy..Cillessen is our new van der sar..Cillessen is very good keeper,he cannot stop penalty from school kid..He concede silly gaol at vital moments..He does saves some incredible saves as well..koeman should give node to Bizot over cillessen..Bizot is better..krul might stop penalty but he conceddes tons of goals on 90 minutes times..

      1. Babel, lack of work rate???
        Bergwijn is different type of player.
        Blind will go forward but less quick :-).
        Cillesen stopped a pen early in the season and made Chelsea and N Ireland miss 🙂

        1. New babel has better work rate agree..Babel has everything except promes or exkuyt work rate..
          Once in a bluemoon cillessen might stop a penalty,Chelsea and northern ireland player didnt knew how to shoot thats not the credit for cillessen..HE CONCEDED SILLY GOALS at crunch time…Bizot doesnt do that..

          1. Berjwin plays from right to mid so is stengs..So postion wise comparable..Stengs is effective..

  8. Jean Venette, at this stage, this would be my starting eleven. Even against top opponents.

    Promes- De Ligt – Van Dijk – Blind
    Propper – Frenkie
    Stengs – Wijnaldum – Malen

    Sub Team

    Hateboer/Karsdorp/Dumfries – De Vrij – Ake – Willems
    De Roon – Van de Beek
    Bergwijn – Ihattaren – Weghorst
    Luuk de Jong

    3rd Goalie: Bizot

    I do hope Karsdorp will get his act together.

    Strootman and Babel are not in my squad.

    1. Ake should not be sitting in bench thats waste of talent…Ake should at least play as DM with frenkie and Gini..
      —–Ake—— as starters
      Van de beek–Propper—
      ———St juste————–
      St juste is having execellent season in Germany as defender..He smells danger and he breaks it by miles..Amazingly fast,hard tackler,Good reader of game..
      Daley Blind play as LCB at ajax thats his spot where we have a better player at Virgil.
      Both Williams and Annholt are regular at clubs they are too good as well..If any one is not Good we have Kongolo and winjdal so LB is not a worry spot…

      krul is Goal keeper who concedes joker goals over 90 minutes time..one of the worst among our gks…yes he stops penalty but he is only useful when we reach shootout..Should we waste a spot..may be as third GK…Defiitly as 2 or first..
      Bizot is clam,he doesnt make silly mistakes like cillessen..He concedes only natural goals where he cannot do anything..He organize with defense..if He can do that with old Ron vlaar and AZ defense ,then how much better he can do with Virgil and Co???Just imagine..Bizot has won games for AZ…
      on bench
      —————St juste————-
      ——Propper———–De beek——-

      No luuk,Wehghorst,Babel(aged and work rate),Strootman(He not the 2012 stroot),Vermeer(dont trust)..
      i like small agile players who can F@@#k up any defenders like bebetto and romario won it for brazil,Ronaldo orginal won it for brazil,David villa won it for spain,
      i beleive Depay,malen and stengs can win it for us..not expecting it from kuyts,luuks,weghorst ,Cillessen ,van der sar etc..

    2. Jan, I really like your selection. Let me ask you; what do you do in Holland? Are you a coach, former coach? Are you a well known soccer figure in Holland? Besides this blog, where else do you voice your opinion when it come to soccer? How can Koeman hear this great selection? HAHAHAHAHA
      I think you should spread this. Hopefully he would listen. LOL

  9. We do have some nice clubs we represent (yet again)

    Valencia, Ajax, Juventus, Liverpool, Brighton, Barcelona, AZ, PSV, Lyon, Norwich, AS Roma, Inter, Bournemouth, Newcastle United, Atalanta, Wolfsburg, Sevilla

    No Feyenoord players this time around…

  10. Lastly, for LB, why not consider Robin Gosens, he has experience in both Dutch and German youth system, played well at Heracles then transfer to Atalanta, played well again. He is only 25, could be our sub for LB and our future LB. Or else I think Germany will call him up one day.

    1. This should have been done in the qualifiers.its all goes back to nation league final where the dutch only had two or three shots on target vs Portugal.suprising Koeman still decided to go with the same squad.

      1. On another note the KNVB wont opt for switch over because he is more german even though has a dual passport. It will be like inviting a outcast especially given the rivalry between germans and the dutch. Then there is daley Blind who is untouchable.

  11. Jan transfer windows should be intresting as well especially for some dutch players who are either injured or frozen at their parent club and will be subject to movement. Tete,Van Ginkel,Riedewald,Bakker.

  12. Jan, is there anyone in Holland lobbying for Ki Jana Hoever to be called up to the senior team after his good performance in the recent U17 WC?
    I really think he can solve our RB problem. He plays like Trent Alexander-Arnold and we all know how good he is.

    1. Super talent but too young, he already scored a goal for Liverpool, might need another or two season before he sees regular first team minutes. U17 and National Team are two different level, however, he is definitely our best talent at RB in last 10 or more years.

    2. He certainly has the potential but I dont think there has been anyone who has jumped from the U17s straight to the senoir team. He will have to make his way up the ranks,probably through the u21s and then the NT.

      As dicussed early its that RCM area which is offsetting the balance on the right flank. Its not dumfries. Frenkies consistent work rate moving up and down has been the reason why Blind sits comfortably with van dijk also beside him. On the right dumfries doesnt have that luxury and he is more attack orientated than blind. Once he caught offguard or losses possession,the right flank just opens up. Either you bring karsdorp,Hateboer,Hoever or any one ,RCM need to effectively cover up the fullbacks when they venture forward.tete could be an exception here but then when ever he plays,he gets criticised for being too defensive.on the other hand Blind has never being pinpointed for his lack of speed and for sitting back vs big guns.

      1. @Wilson, Willems went from the 2011 U17 WC team to the 2012 Euro squad. I think he played a game or two in the exhibitions leading up to the Euros, then he played in some or all of the three losses. Didn’t fare so well. Hard to say whether it negatively affected his career, but it sure didn’t help it. Agree with your, and others’, thoughts that the upcoming Euros are too early for Hoever.

        1. I had him in my mind when writing the post. At the time of his selection he was also named in the u19s and had become a regular at PSV after pieters injury if im not wrong. Like Ihattaren now

    3. No, I don’t think Koeman would consider that. Hoever is the future but you could kill his career with these sorts of moves. I dont even think that physically he is there and you could do a lot of damage to the lad.

      Nope. We have to win the Euros with Tete, Janmaat, Karsdorp, Hateboer, Dumfries or Veltman.

      We won the EC1988 with Van Aerle. So…

  13. Well em….. ihattaren is 17 also

    The only difference is that ihattaren is already a regular for PsV

    Maybe we just got to wait 2 more years until ki Jana hoever got regular minutes with liverpoool..

    Damn Sergino Dest !!!!! Again time will prove he made the wrong Choice! Enjoy the long hours flight to and from the US!!!

  14. I think it is so obvious Thaf koeman finally realised that our right back is our weakest link

    To start with Quincy Promes is making Veltman and Dumfries really look so bad

    And it means that we really do not have Anyone better at this moment. Perhaps that is something for koeman to solve with. These 6 months

    Same as for left back . There is just no one better than blind at the moment. Van aanholt couldn’t convince he is better than blind .

    Now let koeman solve the front and midfield and I’m sure the team will get bettter and sharper by 6 months time

    Facing Portugal again I’m not worry , because I know this time we will win . They should worry

  15. Great news from the playoff draw today. Netherland got Playoff winner from Nations League D in their group which means if Romania does not qualify from Playoff A (which is likely), we will get Playoff D winner, which will be Georgia/Macedonia/Kosovo/Belarus.

    1. Now Netherlands toughest group will be:
      Ukraine Netherland Portugal Romania

      Easiest group will be:
      Ukraine Netherland Sweden Georgia/Macedonia/Kosovo

      As long as we do not draw Portugal or Turkey in Pot 3. It would be a good draw for us.

  16. Now people are behind dumfries,he is low quality footballer etc..I agree….No doubt He is not Dest or karsdorp type..
    All you need to remmber is that He is a Defender who does his job as defender really well,Fast and strong..Doesnt have to make reckless fouls like Blind made VS chelsea..While Going forward he is a joke.thats the problem he has..
    There was a time kuyt who cannot even dribble past a school a dn score goals..This guy was a blockage to our creativity,He was a forward whom suppose to create of his own like Memphis,Babel,Stengs does.But he was just in there with tap ins ,rebound and work rate..If we can bare kuyt as forward ,i think stop whining against dumfries as well.Dumfries really do better while containing kingsly koeman,martial,mbhappe and co..
    I think we miss Sergino Dest..

    1. I’m sorry Tiju. PSV lost 4-1 recently vs an Austrian club in the EL. Four goals, all Dumfries! He is not that good a defender my friend.

      His positioning is weak and his actions can be rash.

  17. Seven former Netherlands youth internationals have decided to represent Suriname:

    Kelvin Leerdam
    Ryan Donk
    Tjaronn Chery
    Florian Jozefzoon
    Diego Biseswar
    Mitchell Donald
    Miquel Nelom

  18. So Mourinho takes over from Poch at Spurs. Apparently Ake was on spurs radar but given how it turned out for Ake under mou back at chelsea, I wonder if he will wanna go there now. But I think Mou is somebody who can take this team to another level. He is inheriting a good and talented squad.

  19. Yes I can finally comment! I’ve been following this blog for years, but the login never worked for me…. Anyway I’m here now. A dutch born New Zealander.

    I can’t believe people are comparing Koeman to Bert! Bert was one of the most boring coaches around! He had a great generation of players, and they still failed to play like they had any plan at all. Koeman has turned a bunch of youngsters into a modern footballing side who can react tactically. Its not even close for me.

      1. @alexvdbroek

        Put yourself in berts shoes. Whom you would have dropped from the 2012 squad and who would have turned it around.

        As for koeman,He has done absolutely nothing, its just the key players that are running the show and this was evident in NI game. You will see the more koeman gives nod to players who are individually talent the more it will streamline the current squad which koeman has been working with.

        1. Koeman inherited a team from your highness stupid Hiddinksi he could not get us to EC2016 with Roben,RVP and sneijder,Devrij,Blind,Gini,,Kongolo (who all played WC2014)and some young players also were available with babel as well..that IDOIT stuck with BMI and got FU@##ked in the A@@SSs..
          it takes a miracle to got us out of 3/6 from that group we,got 4 th place..
          Then Comes Danny Blind your enemy,another idiot whowas keep on changing players even some players did very well for him…again trust and given his A@@Ss to BMI…jokingly he played a CB of 17 year with BMI….Dont tell me about those jokers….
          RONALD KOEMAN INvited and given chances to plenty of players..yes now he is also stuck agree..But his coaching is sublime..You will only understand koeman resigns and its taken over by idiots like Blind,Hiddinski, and finally with so called players you could miss EC or WC..

          1. Yes i agree koeman should consider karsdorp-koopmeiners-Dilorusen–Ake as DM..Jetro williams as LB….
            Propper–De beek–Koopmeiners
            kongolo—Blind—-Devrij—-Ki jan hoover

            on Stand bye
            Sam lammers

        2. “Put yourself in berts shoes. Whom you would have dropped from the 2012 squad and who would have turned it around.”

          Its only partly a selection issue. The system he used was quite defensive, and the team couldn’t play any other system at all. This was shown in the last pool game against portugal where we desperately needed a goal and went to 3 at the back for the last part of the game. We basically just played without a RB and Portugal scored again! Already under Koeman we have played several systems and have been able to react to the other teams style. This is required in the modern game of football.

          1. He All ready used double DM with Nijel and Bommel then why did he used kuyt upfront insteadd he could have gone with
            With Babel,Afellay,coming in as wingers later on…why that SHtttt guy spoiled it with kuyt in 2010 and aged bommel with 2012…
            Anyways having said that he was not crap as Blind and hiddinski

  20. @AZ forever..

    I am watching AZ VS UTR now..UTR is so rough some how stengs avoids injury..if koeman dont give koopmeiners over strootman and De roon it would be stupidity…
    Bizot is lion no panic ,the brave guy..even if its sure goal.guy still give a fight..What a winner..u can beat AZ but u cannot beat him..

      1. Everything ended well: no injuries in AZ and fantastic result. Koopmeiners is THE MAN. I have been always a huge fan of this boy but now I am simply amazed how he plays. Look how much physical power he brings to the game! He is smart and he is a LEADER.

        With respect to AZ, the current team resembles me 2004 version of the team that reached a semi-final of Europa League under Co Adriaans.

        Looking forward to the clash with Ajax.

          1. Not much to say, Wilson, as he does not have a regular playing time. It is hard to make an impression within those 15 minutes that Clasie gets per game. I feel also bad for Thomas Ouwejan. I think he will leave for Utrecht too and join van den Brom. But I understand that Wijndal is much better than Thomas.

  21. Watched Juve and Atalanta. De ligt had a solid game. Bit lucky I would say they won otherwise both teams were equally good.Also Robin Gosens caught my eye as well. Was in the thick of things. Opened the scoring and was lively from the wing back.

Join the Conversation

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.