Ronald Koeman will not have Ian Maatsen in the round of 16 of the European Cup

This Friday, the Dutch team will do their last training session before the duel against Turkey in the quarter-finals of the European Championship. Ronald Koeman will not be able to count on Ian Maatsen. The Dutch defender is ill and will not travel to Berlin.

Ian Maatsen’s absence before the clash against the Turks is the first problem for the player after weeks of good news. First, the youngster was allowed to start for Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League final. Then, while on vacation on the Greek island of Mykonos, he received an unexpected phone call from the Dutch coaching staff informing him that he should report to Ronald Koeman to compete in the European Championship with the Dutch team. And while he was with the Dutch delegation, Ian Maatsen received a call from his agent informing him that he had signed with Aston Villa for 44 million euros. This made him the most expensive transfer of 2024 so far.

At the start of the Dutch national team’s training, on Friday afternoon, all 25 Dutch national team players took to the field at the AOK Stadium, in Wolfsburg. Matthijs de Ligt trained separately from the group on Wednesday because he had minor pains. Nathan Aké, Jerdy Schouten and Steven Bergwijn, who were substituted during the victory against Romania, in the round of 16, could be used by Ronald Koeman against Turkey. Nathan Aké has had some problems with his right hamstring during the European Championship. Last week, the Manchester City defender underwent tests.

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  1. Jan, that is certainly sad to hear about Maatsen, but I am doubtful that Koeman would introduce him at this late stage even if healthy except as a specific tactical substitution.

    In thinking ahead to tomorrow’s match, Aloysius, I appreciate your keen interest in my analysis. I will provide my thoughts in separate posts — first from a psychological, big picture assessment of the match, and then secondly, from a more tactics-specific perspective.

    In my 45 years of managerial experience, I’ve managed teams of dramatically different levels, and with dramatically different prospects for success. When I was with the Netherlands, with PSV, with Zenit, with Rangers, we were legitimate contenders for trophies and titles. With other nations and clubs, maybe not so much. So, this may sound too pragmatic, but you have to determine as a manager what your realistic goals for your team ultimately are. Turkey likely came into this tournament hoping to achieve what they have already achieved – the quarterfinals. So the tournament is already a success for them! Additionally, due to the significant number of Turks living in Germany, in many instances this tournament has been almost like playing in their own country, and they’ve had tremendous fan support. So in some respects, Turkey has big advantages. They are now in effect playing with “house money” as they’ve achieved their objectives for the tournament, and they have strong and passionate support from their countrymen, both in Germany and back home, who would love to see them go even further.

    But from a managerial perspective, there are some selfish considerations as well. Just like with politicians, once you are in power, your number one goal is to remain in power. And somewhat like me, Vincenzo Montella has held a variety of managerial appointments over his career, both in his home country and abroad. Also like me, he is very much a tactician (which almost can’t be helped considering his Italian heritage). And finally, like me, he is somewhat diminutive in stature, so he will have lived his life proving to everyone that good things come in small packages! Because of these similarities, I feel like I can get inside his head a little bit.

    Just like any coach, Montella will approach this match in a manner that will cast him in the best positive light to retain his current position or possibly provide him with future employment opportunities (including perhaps back in his home nation). I speak as someone who has always had an eye myself on job prospects. As American football coach Herman Edwards once said “You play to win the game, hello?!” But the real truth is as a coach, you play to keep your job (and to get the next one). So Turkey’s coach will want to put on a performance against Oranje that the nation will be proud of and that will demonstrate that he can successfully lead in these types of tournaments. He will not want to select an extreme or unorthodox strategy that will potentially embarrass his team or lead to a blowout loss, and thus it is more likely that he will play it safe. For all managers, the result of getting to extra time and then penalties (particularly vs a more highly rated opponent) typically absolves you of any criticism of your tactics, because penalties are always just a roll of the dice. That reality is almost indisputably true (unless you are the Ecuador manager ).

    So how specifically will Montella approach this match? Will he bravely throw caution into the wind and attack all out in a way that puts the Netherlands back on their heels and perhaps comes up with a proactive victory. It’s certainly possible – Turkey just defeated Austria, who in turn had beaten us in the third match of the opening round, so they will have belief against us. On the other hand, he might approach this match in a much more cagey, tactical way. Turkey is already missing midfield players Orkun Kokcu and Ismail Yuksek due to yellow card suspension, and as announced yesterday, center back Merih Demiral is also out for inappropriate celebrations, so those key player absences will obviously impact their approach. In addition to that, Montella has seven other players (Ayhan, Celik, Guler, Gunok, Mulder, Ozcan and Yildiz) who have already accumulated one yellow card and could potentially miss a potential semi-final if they incur a second.

    Again, these are all things you have to balance as a high-level manager. For these reasons, I doubt that Turkey will play a physically aggressive, all-out, end-to-end battle royale, and will instead be more cautious and defensive. I think they will allow the Dutch to have the ball and they will defend us as a unit and look for specific opportunities to counter. While defeating Holland would be a huge victory for them, and the advancement to the next round would be another great achievement for their national team, the absence of further key players currently on yellows would really hamper them against either in England or Switzerland, and so that is a risk they probably cannot afford to take. On the other hand, they may rightly perceive (as we do) that this is a possible opportunity for them to reach the final due to the weakness of our side of the knock-out bracket, and thus they may recognize this as an historic opportunity to truly make the final. They’ve overcome adversity in the past in this tournament and each game has been a further emotional triumph for them. Perhaps they feel destiny is with them!

    So with all of that understood, the psychology of the manager on the other side is important to consider when formulating your tactical plan for this match. My goal would be to use the Turks’ traditional aggressiveness and physicality against them, to attack specifically any players playing on a yellow, and make them choose whether to risk their place in the next round or give us room to work. Further, I think we need to control the tempo, but I would do so at an area not quite as high up the pitch, perhaps just inside their half, in an effort to draw them out but also not concede so much space behind us, at least in the early stages of the match. If we are able to score first, I think we can play our game and punish them every time they try to attack. But if they were to go up early or the game remains deadlocked, the pressure will be on us to put them away, and that is when Turkey will be at its most dangerous.

    My specific tactical / personnel analysis will come later. Spain vs Germany has begun…

  2. Nicolaas,

    What an astute bit of analysis — truly your intellect is dizzying. So I assume you will clearly not choose the wine in front of you?

    Met vriendelijke groet,


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