Stars missing the WC: Memphis

It hurts when I see Sweden advance even further into the World Cup. It hurts bad. With all the “heavy hitters” going home early, imagine what we could have achieved…

And with Messi, CRonaldo, Muller and others leaving the tournament so soon, it does make you wonder: who will be the man of the tournament? Let’s hope it’s not Neymar! And surely, not Kane? He will win the Golden Boot I think, and he’s an amazing striker but don’t we need just a tad more from the “Best Player” of the tournament?

I miss Memphis even more now…

He rewarded himself with a crucial hattrick on the last day of the season in France, for a tremendous season. It seems as if he keeps on going from strength to strength ever since he was given the “free role” at Lyon and in Oranje.

VI Pro visited him in Lyon at the end of the season. Memphis and Bertrand Traore are mulling about in the sun. Their practice session just ended. And the two are now just watching the training of the youth team of Lyon. They’re both football fanatics. And they’re in heaven, as Olympique Lyon has talent coming up the gazoo!

Memphis points to a massive central defender he likes. Traore is giggling like a girl when a certain pass and move session is executing in high speed. Memphis: “Players tend to hang around here, at Lyon. The vibe is good and it smells like football here.”

Memphis likes it like that. Usually, he’s the first to come in for practice. A bit of jest with the door men and then a good solid breakfast before the games begin. And as the French do it: he shakes the hands of everyone at the venue. Every player does, every morning again. Whether it’s another team mate, or the kit man or some visiting reporter from Holland. It sort of resembles the mentality at PSV Eindhoven. Where top sports and casualness meet. And sometimes, that goes well hand in hand.

When Memphis drives out of the complex later that day, the chaos starts. A group of fans wants his autograph, or a picture. He drops his window, signs balls, jerseys and cameras click. And the question is the same: “Memphis, will you stay at Lyon?”. Because 19 goals and 13 assists…it does count. Even C Ronaldo had less involvements (31) than Memphis.

For Memphis, it all starts with peace, quiet and fun. He needs to enjoy the game and life. Two months ago, it all came together. He does have peace of mind ever since the Christian faith became prominent in his life. And freedom he got on the pitch, when Ronald Koeman gave him the free role in a 2 mans forward line (with Ryan Babel).  It allowed him to use his specific qualities in optimum form. More than being pushed out to the left. Bruno Genesio, his Lyon coach, happened to be at the match in Geneva and made notes. He saw how Memphis enjoyed himself and scored. Florian Maurice was there as well. He’s Lyon’s head scout. He tells Genesio how he saw this before. Some 8 years ago when Maurice was watching young PSV in Eindhoven. And a 16 year old Memphis Depay played as #10 behind the striker. Memphis: “It’s true, in the junior teams, I used to play as shadow striker and in a free role, I do think I am at my best. And Maurice remembered this.”

This is not unlike Arjen Robben, who played playmaker in youth teams but was banished to the left wing when he made it into FC Groningen’ first team. To protect him from challenges but the youngster ended up playing there for years.

When Memphis returned to Lyon, the Lyon technical staff immediately made the call. Striker Diaz was suspended so coach Genesio had his team practice this new formation. And then it all happened. And not just a bit.

First of all, with a front line of three. With Memphis as central striker. He scored twice vs Toulouse. “That was good, it was fun, but I am not a striker who remains in the spot. I want to be able to roam and move around, find space. That is when my skills are utilised best: my creativity, explosivity and goal scoring.”

After the Toulouse game, Genesio goes for a diamond in midfield and two up top. Against Metz, Memphis had four assists and one goal. A week later, Memphis was the shadow striker and again: one goal and one assist, vs Amiens. When Fekir returned fit, Genesio used Traore and Memphis up front, with Fekir as #10. And Memphis kept on scoring. In April, he was voted Player of the Month. Memphis now: “That month, that is how I want to play always. Every match, I want to be dangerous, threatening and successful, I want the permanent flow.”

And it’s not just the stats that tell the story. It’s visible on his face, in his body language. He seemed liberated, compared to the straightjacket Memphis we saw at Man United. He’s constantly open to receive, he will work and make dummy runs, he can use his special trickery when needed. “When I started here, I was a sort of left midfielder. I had to work the whole flank. When the ball was on the other flank, I had to drop deep, almost like a wing back. My playing field was 70 meters long. And when that happens, you kill a number of my specific qualities. I can’t be explosive over 70 meters. I didn’t get the ball too often, I had to work much more without the ball and that took so much energy that my specific attacking yield was lower than ever. It confined me. And I need to be free to express myself. And yes, I want to work and I want to do my bit, but my team contribution is greatest when I can follow my intuition. Without limitation. Floating, roaming, hunting for space, making my actions and be a threat.”

Even as a left winger, he had his periods this season where he was unstoppable. He scored 7 goals in 7 games in the fall of 2017. With a hattrick vs Troyes. But after that series, he had a dry spell of six games. Until that night vs Paris St Germain. He started on the bench. “I was so pissed off that I didn’t play. I want to play every match but in particular the big ones. But God told me to keep quiet. To go with it. And to be ready. I was convinced something special would happen.”

In the second half, Memphis was needed to come in. Aouar came off, and Memphis started his predatory role. And in injury time, he got what he wanted. Just outside the box, Fekir fed him the ball. Memphis dribbled inside and let fly: a rocket in the top corner. The Groupama Stadium exploded. Memphis: “Obviously, scoring the winner is sensational. Scoring the winner vs PSG even more so. Scoring the winner like this, even more so… But for me, it was super special due to the message I received that morning. My relationship with God pushed me to a higher level. I felt the ultimate gratitude…”

And there were more high points. Memphis mentions two. His goal at home vs Villareal (3-1) in the knock out stage of the Europa League. Another rocket in the corner from 20 meters out. And he also determines the match vs Ol Marseille (2-3). Again as a sub coming on, with a header in the top corner in the final stages of the game. The start of a mighty final sprint, allowing Lyon to win eight games in a row.

But, it did seem the season would end in a little disaster. In the away game vs Strasbourg, a 2-1 lead went up in smoke. And just when Strasbourg scored the winner in the dying minutes, Monaco – Lyon’s rival – scored the winner vs St Etienne.

The unexpected loss in Strasbourg put maximum pressure on the last match of the season. In that match, in Lyon vs Nice, it seemed to go totally wrong. Both Monaco and Olympique Marseille were leading, while Lyon was trailing 0-1 at half time. Qualifications for the Champions League would be out of reach and a financial disaster for Olympique Lyon was looming. And then, Memphis stepped up. With  cool hattrick, Depay opened the door for Lyon to the billionaire’s ball. The first was a tap in, assist by Fekir. The second a shrewd free kick, under the wall. And the third a nice little chip. In the last 9 matches, Memphis scored 10 goals and had 7 assists. Depay rescues Lyon, the headlines screamed. The typical Memphis with two fingers in ears was the picture. Depay’s way of saying: I only listen to God!

The times that Memphis could be bothered about what others said about him are now behind him. “I compare it to the food you eat, if you would eat the criticism, the good or the bad, you would never get well. I mean, in good times, I ate sweets and in bad times I ate bitter… In both situations, you get a stomach ache. I don’t read it anymore. Not interested. And man, it gives me peace and quiet. I am now 24 years old, I want to play another 10 year at top level without the baggage of all the crap.”

He continues: “You know, the WC Brazil, people revered me, adored me. Everything was cool and now we missed the WC in Russia and I am crap and can’t play football. As if it was all due to me? And when I wear a hat, I’m criticised, when I drive a Rolls Royce, I’m criticised. I’m the role model of bad performances. I had to learn not to take any of it seriously.”

Memphis is enjoying his time with Oranje now. “The current developments are really positive. There is this feeling that we can actually achieve something. And we need each other, that bond, you notice it. During the matches, but also during the sessions in practice. In Noordwijk, you could all do what you pleased, all by yourself. When we are in Zeist, it’s more a common thing. We seem to spend more time together. We play more games together, it’s more fun.

And Memphis now has a team manager he knows a bit better. Koeman tried to lure Memphis to Everton. But, that’s all in the past now. Depay: “Sure, we had a good talk a year and a half ago, but that doesn’t count. I will need to demonstrate my value day in day out. When Van Gaal signed me for Man United, he told me the same thing. I know you, I worked with you, but you won’t get any privileges. But it helps when there is a click. And I think I have that with Koeman. He is clear in what he wants and he is a real inspiration.”

Oranje played four games under Koeman. “Against England, it wasn’t good enough. We know this. We were a bit too fearful on the ball. We needed to get used to the new system, the new way of working. And England is a top opponent of course. But, we should have done better, all of us. We are still a big football nation, we need to be ballsy and show confidence. We do need to be at every big tournament. Period! We do have enough quality. We now need to finetune this and make sure we utilise the qualities and cover up the weaknesses. Based on a compact defense we can be quite devastating in attack. We have strong defenders, good and quick offensive full backs, we have smart midfielders, all the ingredients to get the results. We did so vs Portugal. And now we need to keep on going.

Memphis still have 3 years on his deal with Lyon. When Lyon Chairman Aulas was interviewed, with Memphis standing next to him, he was asked how much Lyon would ask for him when Madrid came calling for Memphis. Aulas said: “Memphis won’t leave.” And Memphis just stared into the camera….

Both were main characters in another comedy sketch at the end of the season. Chairman Aulas again, this time alone in front of the cameras, saying: “Memphis is exceptional, a player who works hard and wants to do everything his coach asks from him.” At that point, Memphis walked past with the match ball and he placed both his finger Memphis-style in the chairman’s ears.

Memphis: “God will help me climb mountains of which I myself don’t know the height…” And asked about where he is at in his life and career, he said: “I am happy now with who I am. That is all. I am a wild boy with peace in his head. It feels good.”

Bookmark and Share


  1. Great article, Jan!

    It’s great to see Memphis doing so well again and just as importantly, developing his own personal self-confidence and faith!

    My favorite Bible verse is Hebrews 11:1:

    “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”

    It seems like Memphis is putting his faith in God first and he has gained great confidence and peace of mind in doing so

          1. Sorry, it was a pun based on Jan’s Sherlock Holmes reference, so I was casting you as Tiju’s Watson…

  2. A very interesting season lies ahead and again the only hope is this will a good season for dutch players in their respective far as Memphis is concerned it remains to be seen what if koeman decides to go with a different approach or formation. does Memphis still remains the focal point and plays in free role or whether there will be focus to build the team as whole. another scenario is whats happens when he is injured.

    as I mentioned in the last blog this is a good pool of talents. Locadia(Brighton & Hove), Groeneveld ( club brugge),Zivkovic (KV Oostende), El Ghazi (Lille), Sinkgraven ( Ajax), stengs (AZ), Kluivert (Roma). the only thing awaits them is a good season of football at the respective club.

  3. also the tide seems to have changed this time around in context to the competency level of eredivisie. in the previous years eredivsie was consistently be raided for talents by other league teams but that has slowly ceased now.apart from few the rest can concentrate on their development now in eredivisie. alot of of Jong ajax and Jong PSV Players have joined another teams in eredivisie instead of competing for first team first team football in their parent club.with the current transfer still open there has has some good transfers in, with some players also returning from abroad as well as transfers form clubs within eredivisie. Ajax, PSV,AZ, Vitesse, heerenveen ,Groningen have all bolstered their squad this season. should be good outings this season.

  4. they have been ongoing speculation of Milan trying to force a move for memphis, but it would be in the best intrest if remains at Lyon and compete in CL and also where he is guaranteed playing time in his most preferred position. Milan have their own internal issues going on and competition wise, it could turn out be just like at Man United where he jus couldnt handle it.

  5. in other news Leed United have loaned Jay Roy Grot back to eredivisie and will join VVV Velno FOR 2018-2019 season. he also missed out on the U21s after he struggling for game time at Leeds. at 20 he has still alot to offer.

  6. Cannot wait to see a day we will have this diamond team, they are very potential & talent & dominated in their generation, we should forget others such as Jansen,Til,de Beek, Babel, Promes, Propper, Ake, Roon, etc because they ‘s just mediocre or solid or just good performance at a moment, not have any potential be reach top level.



    —–de Jong/Bazoer/Raidewal/Bacuna——-



          1. Still 18.his opportunity will come. Unfortunately for him jong vitesse is playing in 4th tier competition and where he is already overrated.

      1. he has potential & now on right way to break into psv 1 squad to step up to be top level, so it’s depend on his development, if he works with good coach & environment then who know

  7. It’s always tough judging what will happen with young players, as the movement between clubs causes a lot of havoc on their careers. I think Lyon is a good spot for Memphis, and I hope he stays until the end of the season at least, though I heard he’s close to signing with Milan.

    Donny van de Beek just made a good move in turning down a transfer to AS Roma, in order to play a full season in the Eredivisie, which I think is incredibly intelligent. I’m a huge fan of Kluivert but I think the move might have come one season too soon.

    If you look to the past, and our top generation of players, guys like Huntelaar, van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and van der Vaart were dominating the Eredivisie for 2 or 3 years before transferring. Justin had one okay season and then jumped ship, so I fear for that decision.

    1. Donny is clever player….thats why he was able to stand still…has better ceiling than so called overrated klassen who needs 11 chances to score 1 goal…and cannt even dribble pass 1 year old baby..Justin did a blunder mistake i feel….only time will say so wait see…

  8. It is amazing how Depay was transformed and has this inner peace thanks to his Christian Faith….
    I am sure this is only an upward line curve, where his confidence will keep on getting better and his skills will continue to show …

    Hup Holland Hup

    1. I think you will be happy next Tuesday because I don’t think France will go through Brazil and you will probably enjoy more a semi final loss for France 😉

      1. Sorry Demi France will win it…..i dont think Brazil will win it…This French team is too much in terms of quality ..They are technically far more superior to other teams…Brazil would be their toghest Rival…Croatia can beat them if Coratia decides to play attacking football…

      2. Except Brazil might not be there.

        And anyway, I don’t think Brazil has ever beaten France in a world cup game. I don’t have good memories of the last few games between them…

        1. Zidane humiliated them twice 98 and 06 … I also watched the 1986 game and Brazil was just super unlucky back then in Mexico. But yes I don’t remember a victory in a WK game the last 40-50 years.

          Maybe Belgium is your last hope to stop France.

          1. If Belgium doesn’t, England or Croatia could beat France. Not saying they will, but it certainly is possible. Other than France’s victory over Argentina, I don’t think they’ve actually performed that well, and even then they gave up 3 goals. They are beatable

            Maybe even an attacking trident of Smolov, Dzyuba and the late addition Vladimir Putin gets it done 🙂

  9. I agree

    France is superior to any team in this tournament

    Remember back to 2002? They started all over again and it took them over a decade up to 16 years to develop today’s team

    I cannot see any team win over them and a very high chance they will be champion

  10. By the way , Kluivert going to Rome is not a smart move

    How many chances can he start for how many matches ? When he starts to work the bench .. it will be the time he starts frustrated

    I hope he will prove me wrong

    I don’t think he has so called success season with ajax last year . Compared to his father , he still he lots to show us

  11. That was the luckiest win I’ve seen in a long time, Brazil had so many chances to score but couldn’t, Belgium might go all the way, NO!

    1. In the first half, Marcelo completely abandoned the left flank for defense. Always out of position. That cost them the second goal, and the game.

      Well, that and Gabriel Tiju, ooops, I mean Gabriel Jesus.

      1. Casemiro always covers for Marcelo. His suspension exposed the defense and the left flank when Marcelo goes AWOL. Marcelo was also responsible for the second goal De Bruyne scored.

        I like Marcelo. He is a great asset to have on a team but his weaknesses are also very important and they need to be addressed by coaches.

        Overall, Belgium deserve their win. They are not the best of teams but they are getting results. If they can get past France anything can happen in the final.

  12. If Belgium and Croatia reach the final, this tournament will certainly be further reinforcement of the golden generation theory of international success.

    Both of those countries’ star players are truly in their prime and by the next WC will be mostly be in decline. Brazil is actually still a fairly young team, as is France.

    Look at the ages:

    Croatia – Of the contributors, only Kovacic and Rekic are younger (both 24) . For Subasic (33), Modric (32), Mandzukic (32), Rakitic (30), Strinic (30), Perisic (29), Vida (29) and Lovren (29), this is likely their final World Cup. If they are ever going to have a chance to win it, this is the year.

    Belgium – They actually have a much better blend of youth and experience than the other competitors, but this still may represent their best chance – On the younger end, they have Batshuayi and Carrasco (each 24), Lukaku (25), Meunier and Courtois (each 26), and de Bruyne and Hazard (each 27). Then on the older side, they have Kompany (32), Mertens (31), Vertongnen (31), Fellaini (30), Dembele (30), Alderweireld and Witsel (29). They likely see themselves as a team of destiny after these past two games and one more win will have them in the final.

    Brazil – On the younger side, they have a very strong attacking core — Jesus (21), Fred (25), Neymar, Coutinho, Fermino, Casemiro and Danilo (all 26) and Douglas Costa (27). However, their older, more defensive players will likely all be gone by the next World Cup — William and Paulinho (each 29), Marcelo (30), Filipe Luis (32) and Thiago Silva, Fernandinho and Miranda (all 33). For Neymar to win a World Cup, there will need to be some help defensively from the next generation.

    France – They are extremely young – Mbappe (19), Dembele (21), Lemar (22), Mendy (23), Umtiti and Fekir (24), Pogba and Verane (25) and Griezmann and Kante (27). Their only older contributors are really Lloris, Matuidi and Giroud (all 31). We could be on the verge of a long run of success for France if they can get their act together.

  13. By way of comparison, although England has a pretty young team too, most don’t seem as promising to me as some of the other nations’ young players:

    Rashford (20), Alli (22), Sterling (23), Kane, Dier, Stones and Pickford (24), Maguire and Lingard (25), and Trippier (27).

    For Henderson, Walker and Rose (each 28), Vardy (31), Cahill and Young (32), this is probably their last World Cup.

  14. @ JB

    Agree with all what you have. One weakness in this brazil team was the lack of ariel threat up front or in the box.there were some good balls marcelo crossed into the box especially in the second half but there was no yellow shirt to be found.for me neymar and coutinho cant be playing together. Both were too hasty and were consistenly trying to take on the compact beligan defense. Even when douglas costa came on, his penertrating runs were quiet effective and better than willan but then nobody was lining up and positioning themselves g
    For typical crosses and were wanting the ball to come to their feet.there were so many good rebounds but no yellow shirt when it came. I was thinking if this team had Diego costa, he would have buried a few goals for sure. Douglas costa also remained me of robben cutting in from that righ flank. He does have that trademark skills of Robben.

    For Belgium, yes they were luck not have conceded the equalizer and pay the price for playing defensive after the two goals. England did the same and paid the price but scraped past through. De bryne was more dangerous in advance role plus the best part for me was the way the lanky beligans bullied the short Brazilians forwards.

    There is one more thing I would like to highlight. Nacer Chadli played for Wes Brom whom were relegated at the end of last season. It jus took him a subsitute appearence of the bench vs Japan to dethrow Carrasco off to the starting lineup. This is why Im always up beat about players who have individual qualities but may not be playing in top clubs.

    1. I really enjoy Douglas Costa, and he did spend time with Robben at Bayern, so perhaps he picked up some pointers.

      That 2010 Shakhtar team with Srna, Fernandinho, Willian, Costa and Mkhitaryan was one of my personal favorites

      1. And they wore Orange!

        And speaking of Costas, I agree regarding Diego Costa, who seemingly made the wrong decision to go with Spain vs Brazil. Spain can’t figure out how to use him and Brazil need everything he brings…

  15. Its a shame that France and belgium will clash in the semis, it should have been the final to be quiet honest. The rest of the games will be just formalities. The winner of france and beligum to win it all.

      1. Ok since you have forgotten to take you tablet. let me justfy what I meant from the my earlier statement.belgium and france would have been worthy finalist simply because of the talents and depth both have in the team . Even brazil vs belgium too. What if russia goes on to win the WC on penalities.will you say they were the best team without playing the top guns.? Or sweden scrapes through to win on penalities? will you say they beat the best.? I pretty much sure as usually you story will change and you will be singing their tune.

        1. oopss..Russia wont win it..Sweden ..i dont kknow they might win it…cannot write of /strootman blunder,refree blunder and hugo loris blunder and danny blind blunder ve bulgaria..these many luck doesnt happen for any team…

  16. England seemingly should not want to get into a long ball crossing battle with Sweden. Maybe they just feel like they have higher quality players and talent will win out, but to me, you’re just allowing Sweden to be comfortable in their style and stay in the game longer that way…

  17. Bias Alert: Raheem Sterling is possibly my least favorite modern football player.

    Could you imagine how good England would be with Memphis playing in place of Sterling?

  18. So france and Belgium, croatia and england.

    The buzz although right now in soccerworld is that Ronadalos move to Juventus.there is some reports of tax invasion which could be reason.

  19. Well, once again South American teams struggle on European soil (although the opposite is generally true as well).

    And although we’re obviously not in it, the final four teams should offer some fairly entertaining match-ups for neutrals. France vs Belgium, Croatia vs England, and then four possible finals scenarios — France vs Croatia, France vs England, Belgium vs Croatia and Belgium vs England.

    None of the remaining four has a particularly imposing backline, so maybe we’ll have a high scoring final for once…

  20. Just my personal perspective.

    France only conceded once in the group stage, but it was to Australia who only scored two goals overall. Peru and Denmark were unlikely to score against France anyway. Then they conceded 3 goals to Argentina (who had only scored 3 goals themselves the entire tournament). They did shut out Uruguay (without Cavani), but to me, Umtiti and Varane have not truly been tested at the international level, nor have Pavard and Hernandez. I doubt they will be able to shut out Belgium.

    Belgium have a very experienced backline, but they concede so many chances that Courtois has to be spectacular to deny goals. They beat Panama easily but gave up 2 to Tunisia in a very open game before shutting out England in a game of backups (which England clearly sought not to win, and for good reason). They conceded 2 and BARELY beat Japan and then could have easily conceded 5 against Brazil. Martinez is a Cruyff disciple and would be happy to prevail 4-3, and so I don’t see them as offering a dominant group of defenders either.

    Croatia only conceded 1 goal in group play, in the final game against Iceland once Croatia had assured itself of advancement. They allowed an easy goal to Denmark and then gave up 2 to Russia, two teams that have no business scoring against them. Lovren has never been the epitome of consistency in the back and Vida is erratic as well. The outside backs, Strinic and Vrsaljko are both attacking-oriented and neither seems to be able to play a full match. I don’t consider Croatia to be a defensive oriented team, and they will need to attack against either France or Belgium if they make the final.

    England is probably the closest to having a strong back line. But until facing Sweden in the quarterfinals, they had conceded 1 goal in every game they played, including against Tunisia and Panama (and to Colombia without James). Maguire has been a revelation for them, but all three of Maguire, Stones and Walker are better with the ball then without it. Phil Jones, Cahill, Danny Rose and Fabian Delph don’t inspire great confidence in me either, and Jones and Cahill are the only real defensive oriented fullbacks they have.

    I’m just coming from the perspective that van Bronkhorst, Mathijsen, Heitinga and van der Wiel was not a strong enough back line to win a World Cup 🙂

    1. I agree with your sentiment in the last paragraph but looking at the 4 finalist I dont think either have mediocre back line to that of the dutch 2010.In my view,conceding goals doesn’t necessarily should put the question mark around the back line.there can be can be other factors as well. The midfield can be another talking point here and how efficient they are in executing their task in providing cover up in front of backline is also crucial.again the dutch 2010 almost did it. you look at Brazil for example in this WC. did they miss Casemiro vs Belgium. yes big time. his workrate is phenomenal and also consistent going back and forth which fernadinho looked susceptible. the pace of the Japanese and Koreans crumbled both the Germans and Belgians midfielders and that how they managed to score.also conceding from set piece can also be cruel given if there is deflection.

      looking at the teams in semifinal I will put my money on the team that has the most efficient midfield compared to the back line which for all 4 four teams are somewhat done exceptionally well.

      1. if you are saying that the midfield work rate is more important than a strong backline, that is definitely the case. However you still need both. One weak link in the back (Fernandino/Heitinga) and you are out…

        This WK has more attacking oriented pace by almost all teams. All 4 in the semi don’t wait to counterattack. So the argument about the midfield is stronger.

        On the other hand, we do not know for sure how these 4 will approach the semis. They might become more conservative and in that case the backline will play a more important role.

          1. right now our back line is one of the best defensive lines out there. The midfield is still being sorted out. Patience 🙂

        1. Re: conservative.

          Maybe yes if they are wining like what we saw england do vs columbia. But through out game would be challenging especially when you have players like persic, de bryne, hazard, sterling, Griezmann, kante,mbappe, vardy, modric. Im expectating both semi final to a firing encounter.croatia as usually will try to dictate from the midfield and same with France.beligum obiviously De Bryne and Hazard, while England could rely on kane during set pieces.the draw back for both Belgium and france could be penalities. Neither have had the chances to get their kickers tried out apart from those in the normal game time.

          1. There is a tendency to get more conservative when the stakes are higher and Colombia versus England is a good example of how it may go. Reversals are very rare in semis. Whoever scores first usually takes it. Of course in this tournament we have seen new things. Some teams feel like loosing 1-0 or 3-0 makes no difference since loosing is loosing and they play a more attacking style just in case. I think Belgium will make a big mistake sitting back. France will not sit back because they have a complete team with plenty firepower. England will not sit back either but might not attack like they did to Sweden unless they smell tired blood. Croatia will serve nothing sitting back, their chance is scoring first and then hold it.

            As per De Bruyne he has never played a good knock out game ever (except that counter with Brazil). He is always absent (check 2014 with Argentina, 2016 with Wales)

  21. News media are picking up on the Dutch ties to these teams again.

    Martinez is using a Cruyff-like approach to maximizing Belgium’s attacking talents and giving them a structure and focus that Wilmots did not.

    England is benefitting from Guardiola’s tutelage at Man City, and recognition is slowly dawning that Spain won in 2010 when Pep was at Barcelona, Germany won in 2014 when Pep was at Bayern, and now England is in the semis in 2018 when Pep is in Manchester.

    1. I wouldnt go there. media will always be media.its really comes down to the players on that day.for Martinez he has inherited a very experienced and talented squad and is just trying to fit in the correct puzzle. you look at how Fellani and Chadli came in the picture after stepping up in the Japan game.

      I will also say this, Uruguay also had the best starting 11 in this WC.Unfortunately for them they didnt have depth on the bench and Cavanis injury was felt vs belgium.

    2. Who are all playing for England from man city??
      Sterling??brought from liverpool…
      stones????Brought from Evrton??/
      Walker???Brought from spurs…
      What is thsi Guardiyola shit all about…???
      Think English team is more about Tottenham…Not PeP..
      Dele ali,Kane,trippier,Maguire,Pickford,Lindgraad and ashly young are the key…
      spain won Vs dutch due some charles puyol fouls…when Pyuol was not there we destroyed spain…
      We would have that if Maschernao was not there vs Arjetina in 2014…

    1. Ruud to be honest. I think he will be. he also has being brought up in the typical dutch 4-3-3 system like van ginkel,clasie,klaassen,bazoer,propper.all these midfielders have something in common. one dimensional. they dont poses the qualities of a overall midfielder. VdBeek is also in the same boat. offensively he looks exceptionally gifted but defensively he doesn’t seems to have the balance. his deficiencies will easily be exposed like to that of other who have looked the same if he switches to team who play standard 4-2-3-1 modern day football.

      Frenkie is the one who looks to have it all.

        1. its always hard when conceding on set pieces to be honest and the same were the sentiments of Martinez in the post match interview. hard luck, the intensity they played in the second half was missing in the first. one guy I was really disappointed with was, Chadli. his corners and crosses were hopeless knowing Lukaku needed servicing especially in aerial threat where he is always dangerous. Belgium can only build on from here and I wont be surprised if Martinez will get another term to continue as the coach. projecting this Belgium team for 2022, all most all of them are playing in top clubs and if they continue then most of these faces will still be around.

          expecting the england and croatia to be decided on set piece as well.

        2. its always hard when conceding on set pieces to be honest and the same were the sentiments of Martinez in the post match interview. hard luck, the intensity they played in the second half was missing in the first. one guy I was really disappointed with was, Chadli. his corners and crosses were hopeless knowing Lukaku needed servicing especially in aerial threat where he is always dangerous. Belgium can only build on from here and I wont be surprised if Martinez will get another term to continue as the coach. projecting this Belgium team for 2022, all most all of them are playing in top clubs and if they continue then most of these faces will still be around.

          expecting the England and Croatia to be decided on set piece as well. England will rely on kane while Croatia to score on counter

      1. Sorry klassen was overrated from beginning cann dribble a kid nad need 10 chances to waste to score 1 goal..only thing is his intelligent runs in to box…
        Van Ginkel,claie,Bazoer,Propper are able to keep the ball in their feet and dribble past 1 player with ease…
        Since knee injury i am skeptical about Vanginkel…Clasie got his chance ,he might be playing in wrong spot of a DM..He is a playmaker no 10…
        Bazoer is under svereal coaches and his attitude is teh issue..he will bounce back..He is top notch…Propper is elegant perhaps only midfeilder of current dutch team who can score from midfeild…Clinical finisher…able dribbler and has some vision and quick relaser of ball…

  22. @ Wilson,

    you mentioned Sam Lammers above. Just looking at his Youtube highlights, the guy shows a lot of potential. I know highlights can make anyone look world class but I feel like has all the ingredients to succeed. He’s got height at 189cm, decent frame and strength, speed, ball control, finishing skills. I don’t know what his temperament, work rate, team chemistry etc are so I can’t make any assessments about him.

    Oranje is lacking in talent at the striker position ever since Van Persie and Huntelaar . We have not properly replaced those two. I see a lot of upcoming talents at every position except pure strikers/center forwards. I know a lot of modern teams now don’t rely on strikers like they used to but I still believe there’s a need for good strikers. They do give managers another option when Plan A doesn’t work.

    Memphis is transitioning there but I feel he’s a bit undersized as a target man. If he gets injured or is not in form then there is a void there. Babel has filled in recently but is heading for retirement soon. Janssen has disappeared, Locadia has yet to convince even for his club side and Luuk de Jong hasn’t turned out to be that great.

    Why is he going out on loan? How was his performance at PSV so far? What do you think is his future potential?

    1. Memphis is undersized yes…but how many goals he scored in short time as striker compared to so called big static Dost?????
      Goals matters not size….
      David villa is smaller than Depay…Only due to his gaols Spain reached final and won by Inesta and Puyol and Casillas toe..

  23. At the moment we have too much talented at the back ,which is enough for the next 2 upcoming World Cups

    Midfield as some of say, is getting solved .i am relying on van de beek , frenkie de Jong , wijnaldum etc , but we need more choices

    Upfront is what worries me the most
    Our front is what we get proud of for decades but now we only got Depay . We need at least 3 more world class strikers but I can’t see any others

    1. We have only 2 players upfront that are Memphis and Babel…there is no one else ..i am looking forward to Berjwin and Myron Boadu….
      We dont have to waste a spot for mediocre forwards..Vanginkel and Propper can score they can be false strikers…Even when last 10 minutes we can use Virgil van dijk as striker by putting Bruma as Cb for him…

  24. The element that we are seriously lacking is big-time speed in our attack. Think of Overmars and Robben. That kind of speed. Fast wingers (who can cut in if needed) are a big asset and nowadays no team seems to have that. Among our younger players, are there any that fit that mold?

  25. If I buy into the golden generation theory (that talent development occurs in cycles and occasionally peaks with an outstanding generation of players every few cycles), then when I look back at our most successful international tournaments, I note the following:

    1974 – Rep, Rijsbergen and Neeskens were 22. Haan, Krol, Rensenbrink, Cruyff, Jansen were all 25-27. Suurbier was 29 and van Hanegem was 30. That’s pretty much our top side ever, with the core group all born within 5 years of each other and all pretty much in their prime years during the 74 tournament. That was our original golden generation!

    1978 — Rep, Rijsbergen and Neeskens were now 26. Haan, Krol, Rensenbrink, Cruyff, Jansen were all 29-31. Suurbier was 33. Same core group, but 4 years older and without Cruyff and van Hanegem. So we really got two outstanding tournaments out of this original generation.

    1988 – Van Basten, Rijkaard, Koeman, van Aerle were all 25. Vanenburg and van’t Schip were 26. Gullit and Wouters were 27 and Blind 28. Van Tiggelen and van Breukelen were 30-31. A three year period (players born in the mid 1960s who were 8-10 years old for the 74 World Cup) produced some of our most talented players yet, and who won us the Euros!

    1998 — Kluivert and Seedorf were 21-22. Stam, Overmars and Davids were 25. Cocu, van der Sar, the de Boers and Bergkamp were all in the 26-29 range. Another 4 year period that produced some outstanding players, most of whom were 8-10 years old during the 78 World Cup).

    2008 – Sneijder and de Jong were 23. Robben and van Persie were 24. Van der Vaart was 25, Kuyt 27 and van Nistelrooy 31. This was the beginning of the latest “golden generation” – Sneijder, Robben RVP and VDV — all of whom were early teens during the 1998 tournament.

    2010 – This was the 2008 group in their prime and we made it all the way back to the WC finals! De Jong 25, Sneijder, RVP and Robben 26, VDV 27 and Kuyt 29.

    2014 – One last hurrah for the Fantastic Four (minus van der Vaart), but some younger reinforcements – Memphis was 20. De Vrij, Wijnaldum, Blind and Janmaat 22-24. Cillessen 25. But Vlaar 29, Sneijder, RVP and Robben at 30 and Kuyt at 33. This was the year though where we failed to produce more than Memphis as the incoming generation, and instead were still heavily reliant on 30+ year old past-their-prime stars to carry the team.

    What’s happened since then? Nothing on the international level. Failure to qualify for the 2016 Euros and 2018 World Cup.

    If you look at the pattern above though, our real quality typically comes in 10 year increments, with the new generations coming of age as youth players (8-10) during our most recent international success. If the pattern continues, the kids who were born in 2000-2002 — my son’s age, boys were 8-10 in 2010 — should be our next set of superstar players. They will be in their early twenties for the 2022 World Cup. Memphis will be in his prime at 28 and Wijnaldum, van Dijk and de Vrij still likely going strong as well. The 2000-2002 born players should hopefully be making their international debuts at the senior level soon. I haven’t followed this level in the Netherlands as closely as some of you, but if the pattern holds, it seems that that’s where the next wave of talent should originate.

    1. Good analysis. I see the same 10-year pattern too. Wonder what goes on in the interim though. It seems some success at the international level inspires the next generation.

      I visited Amsterdam last March for the very first time in my life and took a tour of the ArenA, the AJAX club and the Academy. I must say that I wasn’t very impressed. Maybe I had high expectations after visting Spain a few years ago. Although I could understand the disappointment at missing out on the World Cup, I was rather surprised to see the lack of enthusiasm at any level during my tour. For instance, the Gift Shop was closed during prime time due to lack of staff. In contrast, I found the Bernabeu (Madrid)and Nou Camp (Barcelona) always bustling with activity.

      This lackadaisical approach is probably reflected in the youngsters in Oranje. I hope things change soon.

  26. For comparative purposes, here’s Belgium’s current “golden generation”:

    Carrasco, Batshuayi and Lukaku are 24-25. Courtois, Meunier, de Bruyne and Hazard are 26-27. And then the older generation of Alderweireld, and Witsel at 29, Fellaini at 30, Mertens and Vertonghen at 31 and Kompany at 32.

    Hazard and Lukaku made their senior international debut at age 17, Kompany at 18, de Bruyne, Courtois and Witsel at 19, and Alderweireld, Fellaini and Vertonghen at 20. The only current regulars who were over 21 at the time of their debut are Carrasco (22), Meunier (22) and Mertens (24).

    This is generally true with most European national teams — the truly great players are getting a shot at the senior international level in their late teens. Seems to me that we should be encouraging more and more of this in our Dutch senior national team to see what we have coming up in the next few generations.

  27. @ JB

    Re: golden generation theory.

    There could be a pattern as you have analyzed but more importantly it comes down to where the players are playing and how they are playing in context to golden generation tag. If you look at the current belgium squad. They featured in the team that never qualified for WC 2010 and neither euro 2012.during that period Hazard was at Lille, De Bryne was at Genk,mertens at PSV, Chadli at Twente, Lukaku was wondering around on loan under chelsea, vertonghen and Alderweireld at Ajax, fellani at everton and dembele at Fulham. If you look at this same squad,by 2014 most of them had already jumped on to the scene and were playing top level soccer and for top clubs.I would say this was the starting of the transition for them and after 2014 they jus simply continued to build onto what we are seeing them todate. Martinez could be tatically better than wilmots but there is no doubt that theses players over the years (8) reached the top flight through their techincal abilities and at the same time through smooth tranistion at club level. Dont think neither wilmots or martinez did anything to enhance their development.

    Now if you look at this current Dutch generation. They have failed to qualify for euros and now WC right. It looked like transition would be smooth after the 2014 WC but it was not to be and on top of this the 2013 u21s who showed potential and had high expectation just couldnt take it to the next level in contrast to what the beligans did around the same time.only exception here would be strootman.

    If you have look at 8-10 years from now, again it would come down to the same flow or transition and at what level the players are playing for the dutch to produce the next golden generation or for them to win any silverware. Even if you look at the 90s golden generation, the platform was almost the same until they reached to a point where all were playing at the highest level and in top clubs.

    As I see it after Beligum, france will most likely produce the next golden generation.2022, 2026.dont have to be genuis to figure this out.

  28. @ Vikram

    Dont think of Robben or overmars. The elements which is lacking are wingers switching flanks,wingers providing pointpoint crosses, wingers tearing apart defense.wake up my friend. Did you see what Mbappe did vs Argentina.

    Which dutch winger in your opinion lacks big time speed?

    When I think of Robben, when I think of overmars, I think of this. There will be no one who will be able to replicate them.

  29. With Karim El Ahmadi gone now, hopeful feyenoord will be able to bring in Clasie.the stumbling block right now is the price tag with loan being only option.

  30. Waiting for tonights game…France will pack this Belgians….Next game England will be packed by Croatia…..Then final Will be France Vs Croatia…
    We all know that France has quality they have better player and phenomenon striker in Mbhappe……
    But Croatia will win this WC….thinsg are like that…there is a reason behind it…Till yesterday i thought France will win it….But Croatia will win it ….

  31. Dull, dull semi-final. Expected much more from both Belgium and France.

    Belgium’s line-up to start the match set the tone for the entire game.

    A midfield of Fellaini, Dembele and Witsel was never going to be enough to break down France…

    France obliged, was patient and just played on the counter.


    1. Minimalist service from France.

      No passion from Belgium, no running in between lines, no sense of urgency. They played not to lose, and, surprise, they lost.

      And now, the French will all come honking their horns here for the whole night (Geneva is almost surrounded by France).

      Now, I like Croatia, but they don’t stand a chance. A France-Croatia final will be a repeat of this game, with the same outcome.

      Maybe England can send a barrage of crosses and go through.

  32. I don’t see Belgium getting back to this stage. This was their opportunity. Maybe the next Euros they can be competitive, but in 2022 I think they be more like Argentina or Spain this time around. Strong in one or two areas, but weak / unproven everywhere else.

    Batshuayi, Carrasco, Lukaku, Meunier and Courtois will be in the 28-30 range. De Bruyne and Hazard will each be 31. Other than Tielemans, the rest of the players that featured in this WC will be long gone.

    Such a shame that three of their best attacking players were not introduced against France until the 60th, 80th and 90th minutes. Belgium was one of the few teams with the talent to go toe-to-toe with France. I really have to question Martinez’s tactics. Cruyff would never have played a midfield of Fellaini, Witsel and Dembele…

  33. France, on the other hand, looks to be relevant for a long time.

    Loris is in his early thirties, but could possibly make it back for one more WC. If not, Areola should be the next man up.

    Pavard is 22, Varane 25, Umtiti 24 and Hernandez 22. While I have been (and remain) semi-critical of their unproven nature as a backline, think how good they’ll be in their prime (ages 26-29) four years from now. Keep in mind they also have Mendy, Kimpembe and Sidibe as well (all of whom will be in that same age range as well). Even Zouma is only 23.

    In the midfield, Pogba is still only 25, Tolisso is 23 and Fekir is 24. Kante (currently 27) will probably be on his last legs in 2022, and Matuidi will be gone, but Coman and Roboit should be going strong at that point too.

    Up front, Mbappe is 19 and Dembele is 21. They have multiple international tournaments left in them. And don’t forget Martial (currently 22). Griezmann and Lacazette will both be 31 and possibly still involved as well.

    None of that even takes into account their youth teams, which appear to be oozing with talent as well.

    I think we can certainly learn lessons from how both Belgium and France have worked to cultivate and develop their young players into stars, and hopefully we can begin our own ascendance again soon.

      1. indeed and if you have to compare the french players in the earlier 20s to the dutch Contingent who are is same age category, the french are simply on another level and also performing exceptionally well at club level.This also goes to their bench players as well.

        I would also include england here as they also have young squad. Butland (25), Pickford (24), Stones (24),Alli (22), loftus cheek (22), Sterling (23) ,Kane (24), Rasford (20),Alexander-Arnold (19), Dier (24), Maguire (25).these are in current squad. injured – ox (24), Gomez (21). others who could on the forefront come 2022.Tammy Abraham (20), Manson Mount (19),solanke (20),Ainsley Maitland-Niles (20)

          1. WHO IS Good coach???Sampoli???Hiddink???..
            With other so called good coach and better players England could even go past Quarterfinal..

  34. I thought Belgium had the best chances early in the match and if they could have jagged a goal anything could have happened. Lloris was outstanding for France, but I was really disappointed in how they were looking for the counter attack. Belgium had most of the possession early France just stood back, I guess it worked for them in the end but with the aging talent they have I would like to see them take the game to their opposition.
    IMO Pogba finally played a decent game, busy in both attack and defence I was expecting him to take the tournament by storm with individual brilliance but he has been a little underwhelming for me.
    It won’t surprise me if Croatia win tonight but England are on a roll and if they play without limitations then I think they are too good for Croatia, we shall see!

    As for us (The Dutch) we really need to get our shit together, World Cups are not the same without us in it. Some interesting theory on the 2000-2002 born players, I definitely see peaks and troughs in talent over differing age groups, I’m wondering if it has anything to do with the curriculum that is being taught at the time, as players will take years to fully benefit from certain curriculum philosophies and systems of play. Don’t forget the Dutch are always changing something so results won’t be seen overnight.

  35. The dutch hope for euro 2020 and 2022 hugely depends on the club performance of these guys.Anwar El Ghazi ( lille), richairo Zivkovic (KV Oostende), Justin Kluivert (AS Roma), Jurgen Locadia ( Brighton), Arnaut Groeneveld (Club brugge), Jairo Riedewald (Crystal Palace), Frenkie De Jong (Ajax), Juninho Bacuna ( Huddersfield), clavin stengs (AZ), Fesu Mensah (Man United), Rick Karsdorp (AS Roma). If these players hit the ground rolling this season at their respective club, by 2020 we can have formiddable dutch team on the horizon.

    1. Add to the list Teun Koopmeiners from AZ Alkmaar. I believe, he is one of the best defensive/Central midfielders of the Netherlands. Physically strong young man with great vision of the field and precise shooting abilities.

  36. There is always negative correlation between the performance of Oranje and Red Devils. When Belgians are in their high, The Netherlands go through crisis. When Belgium played semifinal in 1986, Netherlands did not qualify to that WC. However, it was a bizarre failure for Dutch not qualify to EC-1986 when Spain won Malta 12:1, with exact goal difference that they needed. Two years later we were Euro champions and Belgium were nowhere close. I do not believe we will shine at Euro 2020 but I do believe WC in Qatar will be ours. Starting 2019 Belgium will start experiencing crisis.

    1. That’s really interesting! Despite the proximity, I’ve never really perceived Belgium as a strong footballing nation until very recently. Or maybe I just check out more when we’re not in tournaments and thus don’t recognize their periodic successes.

  37. The second semi-final today seems pretty intriguing from a match-up standpoint. Both goalkeepers have done well, and while England seems to have the advantage up front and in the back, Croatia’s midfield should be an advantage for them.

    People are dismissing it, but I do think the back to back 120+ matches ending in penalties are going to take their toll on Croatia, especially considering that they are an older team.

    I wonder if they’ll start Kovacic, Brozovic or Rebic, or deploy them sooner than normal, to ease some of that fatigue and let the younger players do more of the running. Otherwise, Modric, Rakitic and Mandzukic may not last into another extra time.

    In their knock-out matches, Croatia’s attack has bogged down as the game has progressed, primarily because their movement off the ball drops off considerably. Those young legs can keep the ball movement, energy level and tempo up, and as noted above, I think Croatia’s quality in the midfield can generate numerous scoring chances — but only if they can maintain that movement and intensity.

    1. the vital right back is injured ,he was so fast and relaible…Lovren is injured as well..if those 2 doesnt play s loss for croatia…

Join the Conversation

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