Tag: Brenet

Weak Oranje does the job: secure 3 points

I knew the day had to come. The day that Memphis got (some of) his mojo back. It would have been unthinkable that a lad with so much talent would just waste away. Yesterday, Danny Blind needed him. And told him “Memphis, I need you to make a difference!”. And he did.

Earlier on, when Blind was questioned for selecting Depay, he said he trusted his talent. After the Luxembourg game, he added: “I’m not surprised by his turn today. He’s training well. He still has it. I think the difficult time at Man U has made him better.”

It was all about Robben’s return. The 32 year old super winger was missing in action for Oranje for a year (to the day). Our talisman was needed to turn Oranje’s self doubt into swagger. And he does and he did. Whether it was in interviews, press conferences or just that all important difficult look on his face when stepping out of the players’ bus. Robben brings professionalism. The Bayern man was alive in the first half and could have scored 2 or 3. That it was him to break open the score was not a surprise. Passing the ball with his gifted left foot past the goalie. Klaassen had tried it before, Sneijder had an attempt, it was crowded, hasty and nervous. But whenever Robben had the ball, it was all pure class.

arjen scoort lux

A little muscle twitch in the final stages of the first half, however, saw Robben walking off with a grimace on his face. The former Groningen man wanted to keep on going, but the Oranje medical staff advised against it. “Don’t take the risk!”. And he listened. Wesley Sneijder had a tough match too. He was struggling with the abysmal pitch and couldn’t put his stamp on the game. Danny Blind: “I felt the need to go play with two real wingers. Taking Robben off (Berghuis) was a disappointment for us and Arjen, but I wanted to bring Memphis for Wesley to have a better positioning on the field.”

So, the two veterans who were supposed to lead Oranje to success were subbed and two question marks were brought on. And it was Memphis in particular, who took the game by the hand foot. And head. As the little mercurial forward scored his first goal (Oranje’s second) with a C Ronaldo like header on a cross from his ManUnited buddy Daley Blind. The second Memphis goal was a free-kick. After many failed attempts to hit the target from a setpiece in the famous George Best jersey, he finally got it right in an Oranje shirt.

gini memphis

At that time, Luxembourg was already done for. The minions defended like..eh… lions and in particular their goalie had a field day, refusing the likes of Robben, Klaassen and Wijnaldum earlier in the game. The 0-1 was supposed to have come earlier, so Oranje could work on the goal difference. But the goalie and his ferocious defenders – aided by a horrible pitch – stopped Oranje from opening the flood gates. And when we finally got the 0-1, a bad judgement call by Joshua Brenet got Luxembourg on the score sheet. Stekelenburg was able to thwart Man City twice from the spot, but Maxime Chanot did the job: 1-1.

They key for Oranje was to win. And they did. We hoped to see more goals, more flair and more flow but the circumstances were not helping. A bad pitch, a mixed up line up, ferocious defending and a good goalie didn’t help. The Oranje performance was well below par, but with the three points in the bag, it gives some breathing space to the Oranje staff to try and get things right. And Arjen Robben will definitely be at hand to help.

During Holland – France in March, when he wasn’t playing, he was seen debating the tactics with the technical staff during the match. Against Belgium, when Holland was forced to play 5-3-2 with Wijnaldum playing right wing back, again, there was footage of Robben moving in to talk to Hoek and Blind about what was going on. Robben might be our playing captain/coach… He is also the man who reaches a top level whenever he’s fit and shows the confidence and aims for the level we fans are so longing for.

robben sneijder

Arjen Robben, after the match: “I’ll be honest with you, I was a bit shocked when I saw our level today. We were not good. Stray passes, not enough movement, bad decision making. Not what I’m used to and definitely not good enough. We will need to improve. A lot!”

There were mitigating circumstances of course. For starters, Luxembourg parking the bus. Secondly the pitch was dramatic. Thirdly, we played in a new line up yet again, with two debutants as well. I also believe that a goal in the first 15 minutes would have helped. Now, we scored late and 8 minutes later, Luxembourg got their penalty, lifting their spirit.

Joshua Brenet had mixed feelings. “I am happy with Memphis’ two goals. Otherwise I would have felt like shit. I’ll thank him for this. I don’t think it was a penalty though. It happened outside of the box. He didn’t it smartly. Ran across me and then slowed down so I would bump into him. Then he went down as if he was shot. The ref saw it differently. He said I pulled him down. That didn’t even happen! But that guy did it smartly and I was fooled.”

Bast mist luc

Bas Dost is another player with mixed feelings. The Sporting striker is known for his ferocious fighting mentality and self criticism: “Listen, I’m happy. Of course. This is a team sports and our team won. Great, but I would have wanted to do better. I really wanted to score and be important. I can do much better than this. But, sometimes the ball doesn’t get to you and you need to work for the team.”

Just like Luuk de Jong is not good enough for Oranje’s aspiring top level, the same applies for Bast Dost. He is just a good super sub. It’s surprising that Danny Blind still doesn’t want to use Robin van Persie in games like this. He’s smart, experienced and has the quality – like Robben – to decide games with one action. The return of Robben showed a similar approach by the Oranje players as we saw with Argentina-Brazil a couple of days ago. All balls on Robben! And with Argentina: all balls to Messi! Sneijder was isolated on that left wing and I think if we want to utilise Sneijder he should play on the #10 position. I can imagine Blind will play 5-3-2 or 4-5-1 vs France away, but against Bulgaria and teams like that, surely Sneijder can play as shadow striker behind Janssen?

oranje lux

Ramselaar was breath of fresh air. His movement, workrate and forward thinking is needed in this midfield. With Wijnaldum, Bruma and Van Dijk, he was the one of the positives.

Wijnaldum has become a real workhorse in his current role (just as with Liverpool), a long way from his trickster game when playing for Feyenoord as a dreadlocked Gullit wannabe. The spotlights are less on him now, but his role is invaluable. Daley Blind played a mediocre first half but with Memphis in front of him, the ManU player could combine more and penetrate. His cross was the assist for the 1-2 and he also put Memphis one v one with the Luxembourg goalie. Marten de Roon was watching Oranje vs Belgium in England, on the couch, but made his debut late in the Luxembourg game. Pretty proud to mention that he is the first player of my own old amateur club ASWH to reach Oranje! (Started at ASWH, left for Feyenoord youth and then Sparta Academy. The rest is history)

de roon

De Roon: “I got chills when the coach said I had to prepare to go on. It’s a dream come true. When I went to Feyenoord I hoped to reach the top. Some players go the direct route. I had to go via Sparta, Heerenveen, Atalanta and now Middlesbrough. I don’t care. I played 3 minutes in Oranje and I’m happy as can be. The coach did give me some homework. He said I need to be a bit more domineering. Asking for the ball, not just destroying and passing into others. He believes I can do much more in possession. I know this, he’s right. I will work on it. This experience is fantastic and I long for more.”

Danny Blind was realistic: “I know we didn’t play great, but the circumstances weren’t ideal. Missing around 10 players never helps. And Luxembourg has gotten better through the years. This is their best team ever. You don’t win 0-7 just like that anymore. I think we could have scored earlier and if you then score the 0-2 in the first half, you can play yourself to more in the second. But we didn’t take the chances and one mistake puts them back in the game. It has an effect. Luckily we did the business in the second half, and we have the 3 points we needed.”



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Oranje on record run vs Luxembourg

The Dutch need the three points against Luxembourg. Period. All the other story angles are fluff. There is a record to be had as well though. Oranje has won 9 times in a row from Cyprus and Hungary before and can do the same with Luxembourg now. We played each other 16 times in history. With 13 wins for the Orange Lions.  Twice, the Dukes won. In 1963 Luxembourg beat Holland in De Kuip, 0-1. The last victory they had over us. The last two games we played against them though, we only scored once in every game too. In the 2008 Euros qualifications, under Van Basten, we won at home thanks to a Mathijsen goal and in the home game, it was Danny Koevermans who got us the goal and famously, Edwin van der Sar even played for time in the home game, to get the needed win across the line.

Koevermans pre lux

Luxembourg is seen as a football minion but they managed to be despicable in this WC series. They lost against Bulgaria in injury time, only lost 1-0 at home vs Sweden and got the draw vs Belarus! Former Willem II and RKC Waalwijk striker Joachim already has 3 goals to his name.

Jeffrey Bruma remembers the name, vaguely. Different than Griezmann, Gameiro, or Berg and Guidetti. But still a danger. Is Bruma capable of keeping his concentration vs Luxembourg: “Well, this away game will be different than the France or Belgium fixtures of course. Now it’s us who need to make the play. But we’re still Oranje. We are obliged to beat Luxembourg and we will!”.

The Belgium press was clear, after the Holland – Belgium derby. If Belgium could get two players in their team from Holland, they’d pick Van Dijk and Bruma to replace their modest players at the back, Kabasele (Watford) and Ciman (Montreal Impact).

v dijk bruma pre lux

Van Dijk and Bruma turn into a fine pairing at the back. “Well, if Stefan de Vrij is fit, it will still be a battle for a spot,” says Bruma. “But I did play every game under this coach. But I believe in competition. We need to fight for our spot, and I want to make it hard for the team manager.”

The former Chelsea prospect has 24 caps now, but his debut was already back in 2010. Finally, he believes he can be a mainstay. “I came from far. I had to miss a couple of tournaments. Even with Young Oranje. But I will always fight to come back. Same with Wolfsburg. I had a weak start but competed and battled and I’m back at level. I know that mentality is the key.”

Bruma played 11 internationals with Van Dijk at his side and is comfortable. “We do have a good click, on and off the pitch. He’s in the EPL, I’m in the Bundesliga. We both are up against top strikers every week. Luxembourg might be a minion, but watch it. They do have players who are with Schalke 04, Gent, Olympique Lyon, Metz… The time that these guys couldn’t play is over. Joachim is not an amateur. But even without Janssen and Lens and Schaars… we’ve got Robben back. And when Robben is on the pitch, you feel more confident. And the opponent knows what time it is, you know what I mean. They’ll always fear him. He alone can decide matches.”

nl pre lux

Joel Veltman and Marten de Roon

Lens would most likely not have played against Luxembourg. Which is why the Fener winger opted to go for a full match vs Belgium, despite not being 100% fit after a hamstring scare. And after  1 hour of play, the former PSV man got injured again. With the Turkish club furious for the risk Danny Blind took on him. There’s even talk that Blind ignored Dick Advocaat’s wishes to get back at him for leaving Blind high and dry as assistant coach, when he chose the money over loyalty. Danny Blind: “I heard these accusations too and it’s rubbish. I spoke to Dick and he told me Lens had an old knee irritation from his Sunderland days. I told him I wanted to use Lens vs Belgium and not against Luxembourg, and Dick was like “fine”.”

lens pre lux

Arjen Robben is happy to play against Luxembourg. It’s almost exactly one year since his last cap for Oranje. Robben: “I recently heard I have missed almost as many games due to injury as I have played. Incredible. But I’m happy to be fit and hope to stay fit for a long time. Every time I get injured I have to dig deep to come back, but when I do return, it feels like I’ve never been away.” The Bayern star shows confidence with his feet and lips: “It’s not about winning vs Luxembourg for me. It’s about winning with lots of goals. It will help us to create more confidence and moral support from the fans. It was painful to see so many empty spots in the Arena vs Belgium. We need to do better and against Luxembourg we can not allow them to breath even. Grab ‘m by the throat and keep on working them.” When asked if a 10-0 was possible, Robben laughed. “Well, those days are over. Not because we are not capable but the football dwarfs are not that easy to beat anymore. The gap between top and second tier is getting smaller and smaller.”

What does remain a big difference between top and second tier is the quality of the pitches. The Luxembourg pitch was used for a rugby match mere days ago and looks like a potato field. Robben: “We knew this and went a day early to check it out. We’ll be fine.”

virgil pre lux

Danny Blind: “We know the pitch isn’t great, but that will never be an excuse. You simply adapt. You can’t keep on wishing things to be different. It is how it is and we deal with it. We like a pitch that allows for nice passing play, but if it’s not like that, we can’t hide behind that. We’ll deal with it.”

Daley Blind will most likely play his 41st cap for Oranje and will join his dad Danny on the list of most capped internationals. Danny Blind made his Oranje debut against Luxembourg, interestingly enough. Other players to make their debut against the minions are Clarence Seedorf and Pierre van Hooijdonk. Marvin Zeegelaar could well be another one. For Sneijder, there is also a nice record up for grabs. Two actually. He played 125 caps for Oranje and is on his way to beat record international Van der Sar (with 130 caps). Should Wes score against Luxembourg, this would be the 25th nation he will score against. Only Huntelaar and Van Persie are ahead of him on this list.

blind 2 prelux

In the final presser before the game, Bind said he’d return to 4-3-3 for the Luxembourg game. “They will let us have the ball. We will dominate and attack and we’ll do so with three offensive midfielders.” The coach hasn’t released the line up but it seems that Dost will play for Janssen, Robben for Lens and Ramselaar will make his full debut in place of Schaars. It’s also highly likely that the weak Veltman will be replaced by Joshua Brenet, who is a much more attacking option on the flank.

Should Holland win vs Luxembourg (oooh… exciting!) it will jump to the 2nd spot in the group. Blind: “It was disappointing that Sweden couldn’t hold on to the 1-1.  We would have had a good view on the lead in the group. But, whatever France does, we simply need to win our games. And we’re all very aware.”

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Oranje draws, but takes a loss…

Or actually: three losses…

Friendlies are there for coaches to try things out, test the team, build confidence, let players gel together and for federations to make money….

However, prestigious friendlies against rivals might do the opposite: a loss will not build confidence and as Oranje already had to make so many changes, letting players gel together was a big ask.

And typically for the bigger mess we find ourselves in, Danny Blind loses three key players in run up to Luxembourg! Stijn Schaars: calf. Vincent Janssen: concussion. Jeremian Lens: hamstring.

Sure, it’s only Luxembourg, but again Blind needs to re-shuffle and again we will miss an opportunity to build on a new foundation.

Danny is almost able to field a complete team of players not available due to injuries or not available coz they don’t get playing time…

lens ham

The good thing is: Arjen Robben will be back.

Watching Nederland – Belgie was watching a team of top class players playing against a team of rookies, with one top class player: on the stands. And it was a boring ass game. Belgium didn’t seem to want too much, Holland couldn’t do too much.

Belgium is stacked with players from the big leagues / teams who clearly didn’t want to put too much into the game. As a result, they had nice dominance, nice possession, some flowing passing but no end product. Not having a real striker but Dries Mertens as a false nine didn’t serve them too well.

Defensively Belgium was vulnerable and looked off the pace at times but I don’t think they will have been too shocked with the Dutch attacks.

They have sensational players and I’m sure they’ll do well.

As for Oranje: yes we have injuries, yes we lack team composure and automatisms, but it was definitely not the sort of performance that instills confidence in the average fan (like me).

hazard sneijder

It was poor. Team tactics were fine and to see us go 5 at the back in the second half with young Brenet coming in was actually refreshing. At the WC2014, it worked at times. In the friendlies (Van Gaal, Blind) it didn’t work at all (France at home!) but against this Belgium it did. Veltman in particular was dramatically exposed on the right flank in the first half and the fast and hard working Brenet, playing fearlessly, add some spice to the team in the second half.

But on all other aspects of the game, we looked second-best constantly. The result is ok (if you care about this), but the performance was poor. No creativity, lack of speed and sense of urgency off the ball and poor passing.

Joel Veltman would be the first player to take off the team sheet for me. Defensively weak, build up play even weaker. He had several opportunities to launch the fast Lens with a ball over the top and he hardly used those.

Virgil van Dijk was the only player for me who stood out, with Vincent Janssen second best, purely because of his hustling and ballsy duelling. Van Dijk is becoming the real deal. Plays like a leader. Will make a big move this summer.

janssen baalt

Stijn Schaars started well but got knicked twice in a midfield duel and had to go off with a bad calf. He actually got the knock last week in the Eredivisie game vs Sparta, and might have agitated the muscle by changing his movement a little to avoid that knock. A dependable player. Low in risk taking. But not moving too gingerly anymore with his 32 years on the clock. He might not wear an orange jersey anymore, once the suspended and injured players return.

Lens was good on the ball but it was visible that he hasn’t been part of Oranje for a while. A lot of miscommunication between him and the midfield/defenders.

Janssen is able to make something out of nothing. Goes for everyball and will happily clash into goalies if the game needs it. Reminded me of Huntelaar eating grass at Wembley a couple of years ago, in a friendly.

I think he should have had two penalties for the two clashes with Mignolet, to be honest. The first one he knicked past Mignolet – ok, foot was high – and the Pool goalie grabbed him. Second clash, Janssen was there first and Mignolet crashed through him with his elbow hitting the Spurs striker on the head.

Lens did well to create the pen for us. On the ball, he looked solid. Sad to see him leave with a hamstring.

In typical fashion, Janssen played on for a spell – refusing to go off – but a concussion is not something to fool around with, and he’s out for Luxembourg.

janssen klap

For me, most players were average to poor. Clasie needed time to find his feet and rhythm and had some poor balls. Daley Blind didn’t reach his usual level. Wijnaldum still can be wrestled off the ball to easily for me. And to top it all of, sub Memphis Depay was not able to shake the cobwebs off and do something special.

Joshua Brenet has clearly put himself on the radar though. After 1,5 years of “not talking to each other”, Danny Blind and Brenet made peace. The PSV defender once said on tv that he thought Danny Blind only selected Ajax players, which is why he was ignored for Oranje. A gutsy thing to say. But also stupid.

Obviously, it isn’t true. And secondly, you don’t make the coach select you quicker. Brenet was ridiculed in Holland for these statements, as he was playing average in those days. Like many Dutch defenders: good on the ball, good going forward, but shocking defensively.

Brenet and Blind had their pow wow last week, shook hands and move forward. I’m sure he made an excellent impression and he could have had an unforgettable debut with an unforgettable goal, with a massive counter-attacking run when Belgium was out of position. Sadly, he missed the target.

Marten de Roon and Leroy Fer are called up for the Luxembourg game. I don’t think Blind will add another striker. Surely, Dost, Luuk de Jong and Fer as pinchhitter should be able to do the business.


It will be nice to take some rest from Oranje and hope for the likes of Elia, Bazoer, Willems, Janmaat, Memphis, De Vrij, Karsdorp…

Danny Blind said after the game he was happy with the result and the defensive performance. I can’t agree fully. The Belgiums didn’t really try. We were not really tested. The center backs did ok. The defensive mid did ok. The work rate of the team was ok, but parking the bus and stopping attacks is not “defending well”. Our out ball was poor and we had many chances to play out from the back only to dwindle too much on the ball and losing it again.

The key difference for me, and not just in this game, is the running and positioning off the ball by Belgium. As opposed to our play. Our defensive mids (Strootman, Schaars, Clasie) simply sit in that space. Not enough dynamics. Our midfield runs to support the striker (Sneijder, Wijnaldum, Klaassen) are lacking. The change of position up front and diagonal runs (De Bruyne/Hazard versus Janssen/Lens) was absent. It is not so much a quality thing, but more a sense of urgency thing, if you know what I mean.

Klopp, Conte, Pep, Pochetino, Ancelotti, Simeone…these are the coaches demanding this from their players. And players like De Bruyne, Hazard, Dembele, Vertonghen, Carrasco bring this to the team. In our team, only Wijnaldum has it (at times). Sneijder doesn’t have the legs. Lens doesn’t have the wherewithal and I think Clasie/Strootman/Schaars are simply not allowed…

Unless we don’t adapt to this new level of play soon (Ajax, Feyenoord, PSV, Oranje) we will slip and keep on slipping…

Iceland, Wales, Portugal, Leicester City… These teams do not have amazing quality players. Still they beat England, Belgium, France and the whole EPL last year…

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