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..