Tag: EK

Prelim Squad announced for Oranje

Almost a month to go and we’re starting to leave the club competitions behind us.

You will have seen the squad selection by now? I don’t think too many surprises.

For some, the absence of Bizot was a surprise, as he was called up for the last international games. He was most likely part of the prelim squad, if not for some domestic family issues. Marco decided to forfeit the Euros as his family circumstances have not been resolved and he prefers to be with the family during the summer.

The list of injured players ( Hartman, Wieffer, Lang) might become longer with question marks for Marten de Roon, Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay and Zirkzee, while Luuk de Jong definitely retired from the NT.

Calvin Stengs, Thijs Dallinga and Steven Berghuis will have had idle hope and should something happen to Malen or Bergwijn or Xavi Simons, these three might still get a look in.

If Frenkie and Memphis can join the squad, I do believe we’ll be in good shape.

We simply need our key players to be in form and Koeman to pick a logical starting eleven for the games at the Euros.

I mean, our goalkeepers are fine. Our central defenders are top. Maatsen and Ake can cover the left side, even Blind might be able to play against opponents parking the bus. Frimpong and Dumfries will cover the right with Geertruida also on hand.

Our midfield options are pretty good, with Veerman, Schouten, Reijnders and Koopmeiners and when fit, we can expect some fire upfront from Malen, Gakpo, Simons and Brobbey.

As mentioned, we need Koeman to make the right decisions and allow the players to play to their strengths.

It may sound simplistic, but we need two teams: 1 that can dominate possession against the minions and 1 that can play on the transition when playing the strong countries who themselves want to dominate.

I will suggest three at the back in both scenarios and I would personally use Bijlow as first goalie.

My two teams:

 

 

Tell me your fave line up in the comments….

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Weak Oranje Czeching out of Euros

I never did believe in angstgegners. It’s all psychological. But I too start to believe that we seem to be Czech Mate a lot against these guys! And sure, a lot of “bad luck” came our way, but seriously… If you really believe you are top of Europe – let alone the World – you can’t have such a collective off-day.

From coach to goalie, from central defender to new Barca signing Memphis. Not.Good.Enough.

And it all looked sooo good! We topped our – weak – group. We seemed to have the system down pat (ish). We found ourselves on the right side of the draw. Many experts in Holland already spoke about the semi finals, as if the Czechs and Danes don’t even compete. And whenever our “experts” get positive, it’s time to be very careful indeed!

As some commenters mentioned, it was all about the semi finals, it was about the terrible political situation in Hungary, who was supposed to team up with Memphis, should De Roon play, etc  etc.

But history should have taught us a lesson! The Czechs were resilient in the opening match of the Euro 2000 tournament. Ronald de Boer needed to dive to get a penalty, for his brother Frank to convert.

In 2004, we were on our way to victory, but then Arjen Robben got aggressively and ruthlessly tackled from behind with studs showing by Dick Advocaat.

I’m sure we played them a number of times more, the 2016 Euros qualifications are also still in my head. Janmaat’s backpass to Cillesen in the away game. Was it Van Persie’s own goal in the home game? What the hell do we have on our Bad Karma list re: these people!?!?

But let’s analyse this match isolated from the previous dramas. Because those past games are not an excuse. Even worse, they should have been an extra motivation! I actually was convinced we’d win this, partly also because of those past embarrassments! But no! We step into this big, wet turd yet once again! (not comparing Czechs with turds… Just a figure of speech. Trap. Turd. You get the drill)

What went wrong?

Well, I don’t think the line up De Boer selected is at fault. I don’t think it mattered whether we played Weghorst or Gravenberch. Even more so, I think this is the best line up, I suppose.

The system and tactics are also not at fault. The system didn’t handle the ball. The system didn’t miss that Malen chance.

We started erratic. We fell straight into the trap of the Czechs would would have said “Don’t let them combine. Suck the oxygen out of them!”. And we couldn’t keep the ball. So much wayward passing, bad touches and miscommunication.

And when you want to achieve something at this level, you need your best players to shine. You need a Van Basten ’88, a Bergkamp ’98 or a Robben ’14. If Dumfries and De Vrij are your best players, it’s hard to win games.

Memphis and Wijnaldum were invisible. Even dead balls – no pressure, no challenges – were too hard for Memphis to take. Frenkie de Jong got completely muscled out of the game. Our left wing back Pat van Aanholt did literally everything he did wrong. His touch, his passing, he ran in behind in off side positions, he was simply atrocious.

So without Memphis, De Jong and Wijnaldum firing on all cylinders, we are really mediocre.

And obviously, the Czechs left Van Aanholt as the free man. He was considered the least dangerous. Just like Dumfries was in acres of space, often. But we kept on trying to find the forward pass to Memphis through the middle. I think Frank de Boer should have taken the Palace player off. Bring Ake for Blind and move Blind to the LB position, where we would have a ball player instead of a blind runner. Malen would then take the left wing, as Blind is not a running wingback.

This would have forced the Czechs to make a decision. Now, leaving Van Aanholt open, led to so many ball possession turn around, it’s simply not funny anymore.

It has no use to criticize De Roon. Or Van Aanholt. They are not the lads to give that killer pass or make that run.

The only positives for me were Dumfries and De Vrij. Daley Blind was ok, but you expect more from him. His crosses and passes lacked precision too and he simply is not the leader we need.

But again, it’s players like Memphis – new signing for Barca – and Wijnaldum – new signing at PSG – who should have stepped up and didn’t.

Malen did what he could. As did Dumfries. They worked hard, they were positive, but it was not enough.

In the first half, our final pass was lacking. We could have been 2-0 up at half time, with some better play, but we simply weren’t good enough.

In the second half, Memphis finally had his magic touch: the flick to send Malen into space. The PSV talent should have buried it. He had so many options, and that might have stifled him. He could shoot early. Or go past the goalie, left or right, or chip the goalie. Or wait for Memphis. All these options….

One minute later, and Oranje sees red. A stupid mistake by De Ligt. Just fall on the ball. Odds are, the ref gives us a free kick. But he slapped at the ball and a red card is the logical outcome.

And we lost it completely afterwards. No belief, no leadership and also not the substitutions you’d expect.

I think  4-4-1 would have been best. Dumfries, De Vrij, Blind, Van Aanholt. The latter does have the physical strength to battle Coufal, more than Wijndal.

Use Wijnaldum, De Jong, Memphis and De Roon as midfielder, play compact and use the speed of Malen.

But for some really weird reason, our only fast runner was taken off! An Advocaat decision? And Promes (!!) was brought on??? What was De Boer thinking?

Memphis was not at his mediocre best even. I’d subbed him probably after the 0-1 for Gakpo. Who could have been the Memphis of 2014.

De Boer said he couldn’t play Malen more than 60 minutes. I don’t see why not? He’s a mature lad, strong, plays week in week out for PSV. Why wouldn’t he be able to play a whole match??

And Promes in? Why? What is his added value?

The Dutch analysts (Sneijder, Nigel de Jong, Ruud Gullit, Rafa van der Vaart, Pierre van Hooijdonk) were flabbergasted and claim this sub will also go down in history, like Advocaat’s Robben sub in 2004.

Overall, Memphis, Wijnaldum, Frenkie, Van Aanholt, Stekelenburg and eventually De Ligt all deserve a minus! Frenkie wasn’t bad, but he can play so much better. Today was the day for him to shine and he drowned.

Stekelenburg didn’t look good for that first goal, of course. But couldn’t really help that second one…

De Roon did what De Roon does. No more, no less. Malen, Dumfries, Blind and De Vrij reached a normal level.

Overall, Frank de Boer failed to find a solution for the Czech’s game and failed to make an impression with his substitutions. He might rue the fact he did pick Malen, as he might well have had a mind to play Weghorst as the target man. With Memphis as his running partner, and Malen potentially as a sub for later in the game.

He should have subbed Memphis who was completely ineffective

Either way. We are out. And deservedly so!

I will refrain from claiming De Boer’s head, but we will need to sort this very quickly, as the next World Cup qualifiers will be waiting soon!

Time to retire Stekelenburg and Van Aanholt, as far as I’m concerned and time to mould our ideal World Cup team together…

More analysis with screenshots of situations soon!

 

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Young Oranje shocks France

There is always that outside chance whatever the balance of quality or euros, and Van de Looi knew his team could beat France. A top notch goalie, a solid defence, two talented holding mids and speed and guile upfront.

Despite losing some key players for this Euros (Koopmeiners, Gakpo, Lang, Brobbey), Van de Looi was able to inspire his team with courage, with grit and with efficiency. The much lauded France team with big name and big pay-check players didn’t play bad but didn’t have a solution for the Dutch organisation and the speed on the counter attack. Young Oranje proved yet again that a bag of dollars / euros can’t score goals.

Van de Looi went from the anonymity of a typical B team into the lime light back in March when the Euros started. He copped criticism on his playing style and system (4-2-2-2) and copped even more when he didn’t play a striker (Boadu, Brobbey) against Germany, but opted for midfielder diesel engine Dani de Wit.

Against France, the big favorite for the titel, the coach kept his faith in his system and simply replaced his missing key players. With a team that objectively had less quality than the team he could play in March he was able to beat the favorites for the title. Van de Looi stuck to his philosophy.

Heaps of strong performnances. Bijlow again demonstrated that he is Holland’s biggest keeper talent. Schuurs might have lost his starting spot at Ajax but he played his best game ever in an orange jersey. The Man of the Match though, was a name people didn’t expect to see: Tyrell Malacia, the 21 year old Feyenoord left back.

At Young Oranje he is known as the man with the eternal smile. At breakfast, at training, during the tactical talks, even on the team pic, when all other faces are stern, Ty shows his pearly whites. A true football fan who happens to be playing on the highest stage for him. Not a position that looked likely. “He had to wait a long time, although we did call him up earlier but then he got injured,” Van de Looi explains. “And I was clear to the players, a week ago. I told them, we need topnotch energy and intensity against France. We won’t have a chance if we’re not fit. So I will select the player who has the legs. And Tyrell trained like a beast. Sometimes, as a coach you can pick between good and not-so-good. Now I had to pick between very good and even better.”

Tyrell Malacia

Dani de Wit as controlling midfielder was a surprise too, as he has to fill in for Koopmeiners. The AZ midfielder may not have the fine qualities Koopmeiners possesses but he is a leader, a personality on the pitch and with his grit he did pull the team through difficult stages. Harroui dropped back into right back whenever the French pressed but after 54 minutes, the coach directed him to midfield to make use of the extra space there.

The only stain Oranje had to face was the French goal. Straight from a dead ball. It seems Stengs lost his man. Van de Looi will have to work on that for the semi finals against the Germans. Another issue, France was way stronger physically in the last 15 minutes of the game. Stengs, Boadu and in particular Kluivert stopped doing their defensive work. The latter even had cramp.

Van de Looi would have subbed these three if he had Brobbey and Lang at his disposal but he allowed them on the pitch and would have subbed them in the break before the additional time. But that threesome ended up being responsible for the winning goal.

In true form. Van de Looi immediately made a statement to the players: that same night the players were to report for a recovery training. When Boadu heard this he though the messenger was joking. But Van de Looi was in full tournament coach mode and already in the bus. “Listen, you saw the explosion after winning against France? Everyone is happy. But it’s not the end yet. We need to make sure now that we are top fit for the next game, and that means: telling the body it can’t relax yet. There is another game coming and hopefully another one still. Let’s do all we can to make it to that finals. Lets not throw it away now because we won one match. And I look back, when we started, you are so far away. You need to be play qualification games and after 8 years we are here again. And the group stage wasn’t our best series. But now, this win, it changes everything. We need to keep calm, keep focused and realise the dream is still alive.”

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Young Oranje’s puzzle

Coming Monday, Young Oranje plays their quarter finals vs France in the Euros under 21. Coach van de Looi will have to make due without his top performers Cody Gakpo, Noa Lang and Teun Koopmeiners.

If Van de Looi could pick any player that fit the prerequisite, he would be able to field a team wih Gakpo, Lang, Gravenberch, Koopmeiners, Timber, Wijndal, Geertruida, Mo Ihattaren, Zeefuik, Ludo Reis, Donyell Malen and Mathijs de Ligt. Van de Looi would be licking his lips. But this is the fate of a coach at the Young Oranje level. You’re not the priority.

Team manager De Boer and injuries are spanner in the works and the former Groningen coach will have to make do with what he has got. He will stick to his 4-2-2-2 system, with which he played against teams that appear as strong as us, or even stronger. This week he will be finalising his jigsaw for the France game, coming up.

In the group phase, Ajax goalie Scherpen was the number 1 between the sticks, although Paes and Bijlow were the choice goalies during the qualifications. Bijlow suffered some injuries but he will most likely take the #1 spot as he has been without mistakes at Feyenoord, while Paes is still the second goalie at Utrecht. Scherpen was one of the men of the match in the group stages but his outing in Ajax 1, in the EL, didn’t go as planned. Scherpen needs more playing time and with a move to Brighton, this might well be on the cards. Or not.

In defence, I don’t think Van de Looi will change much. Never change a winning team, although the coach has some good options. Jordan Teze at PSV had a top season and Doekhi was one of the key performers at Vitesse. Van de Looi likes to play with the two towering centre backs Schuurs and Botman. No one will complain about Botman, as he just won the title in France with Lille. But Schuurs seems to have dropped in the Ajax hierarchy recently. Still, they used to play together at Young Ajax and both have been goal scorers for Young Oranje as well, so I can understand Van de Looi’s choices.

Left wing was usually Mitchel Bakker’s spot but he’s been quite vulnerable lately and hasn’t impressed with PSG either. Tyrell Malacia is in great form all season and deserves a look in. On the right side, Zeefuik is usually the first choice, but he’s injured. Teze might be the man for the job, as he will most likely replace Dumfries at PSV, should the skipper get his transfer this summer. I wouldn’t be surprised if the coach picks Devyne Rensch for the role. The 18 year old Ajax defender has been raising eyebrows in the past months, with his runs, his defending and his goals!

Van de Looi has been sticking to his firm squad, which also resulted in Jay Gorter (Go Ahead) and Pascal Struijk (Leeds United) not getting a spot, but he might now change his ways and allow for players in form to come into the team.

“We’re at the end of a tough season, and some lads have been playing a lot of games for the first time in their career. We need to see how everyone is, in terms of fitness and energy. Intensity will be key against an opponent like France.”

In the 4-2-2-2 the crucial roles are in that holding position. The engine room. In an ideal world, Erwin would play Gravenberch and Koopmeiners there. Now, the coach needs to pick his B options, although it’s not a fair label to push onto Abdou Harroui. The Sparta midfielder had his break out season and is on his way to a big transfer. He’s a light footed tackler, with lots of feeling in both feet. With Harroui, you get football and you get security.

Other options are Ekkelenkamp (Ajax), Matusiwa (ex Ajax, now Groningen) or Kadioglu. Dani de Wit can play there too but the coach expects to need him up front. Kadioglu is highly praised by Van de Looi and Ekkelenkamp is also a player who is able to squeeze good performances from the 4 forwards, thanks to his passing range.

Up front, there is two blocks of two. Two so-called half-10s and two strikers. Calvin Stengs is a cert for one of the half 10 roles. Noa Lang would probably be a shoe in for the other part. Up front, Justin Kluivert seems to be the firm choice with either Boadu or Dani de Wit next to him.

The former Groningen defender copped criticism for using De Wit as number 9. “He might not be a typical striker, but Dani has these penetrating runs, and you don’t see these enough. We missed that in our games vs Romania and Germany. Due to Noa Lang’s injury, the solution offers itself: Stengs and De Wit as half 10s and Boadu and Kluivert leading the line. Kadioglu and Dilrosun could also play in the half 10 role and if need be, Van de Looi also has Kaj Sierhuis at his disposal. This is a physically strong typical #9, which can work against a physical side that is France. The draw back is that the former Ajax striker hasn’t played much for Reims and when he did, he hardly scored.

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Final Oranje Squad

The bullit is through the church, as the Dutch saying goes. Marco Bizot, Steven Bergwijn, Anwar El Ghazi, Hans Hateboer, Rick Karsdorp, Jeremiah St Juste, Kenny Tete and Tonny Vilhena are not needed.

Cody Gakpo, Jurrien Timber and Teun Koopmeiners are the chosen ones. For the PSV winger and the Ajax defender it will be their first Oranje selection. Wout Weghorst is part of the Euro squad too, returning after 1,5 years. Maarten Stekelenburg is the nestor of the group, with his 38 years.

Bergwijn is the biggest shock, for many as he was a firm mainstay in the Oranje selection and often times starter under Koeman. Bergwijn lost his spot in the Spurs first team and the last two starting births were not enough for De Boer to change his mind. Marco Bizot’s bad luck is the return to the first team of Stekelenburg. The lanky Ajax goalie is known for his exquisite technique, his chilled out personality and his experience. Karsdorp has reason to be disappointed. He played 46 matches for AS Roma with seven assists and reached the semis in the Europa League. And he might have felt to be the best option for Oranje in a 5 man’s defensive line up. Tonny Vilhena could have beeen an option for the left wing back role, a position he holds with his club Krasnodar as well, but De Boer is content with Van Aanholt and Wijndal and if need be Blind.

Frank de Boer only has two weeks to prep for the Euros. Ridiculously short and for this first stage, he only had the prelim group of Dutch and Russian internationals, and two players from England (Krul and Veltman). If all goes well, Daley Blind will join this coming Friday.

Blind’s ability to play is of key importance to De Boer. The experienced lefty is usable on three positions. For years, Daley played left back for the Oranje, but ever since Van Dijk’s injury and Owen Wijndal meteoric rise, the 77 times capped player is centre back. Just like he does at Ajax. With a fit Blind, De Boer is capable of changing the system like that. In a 3-5-2, Blind will be the ideal build up man, and he’s also accustomed to the usual 4-3-3 both as defender and as midfielder.

De Boer demands tactical fluidity of this team. In his first match as NT, against Mexico, he changed the midfield set up and broke with Koeman’s line of thought. Koeman used a 4-2-3-1 and De Boer went 4-3-3, with one controlling mid. Against Bosnia Herzegovina, De Boer reverted to the trusted system and in the game against Italy, De Boer opened his bag of tactical tricks and went with 5 at the back. He was a spectator when Oranje played the Azzurri at home and he was facepalming all the way through the thrashing we got in a weak tactical performance. In the away game, he played Van Dijk, Ake and De Vrij and with two strikers (Memphis and Luuk de Jong), Oranje seemed more capable: 1-1.

In De Boer’s first weeks, we saw the three faces of De Boer’s Oranje. He wants to go from 4-3-3 to 5-3-2 to 3-4-3, even in one match. And he demands similar things from individual players. Wijnaldum was strongest in Oranje when he played as a 10, close by Memphis. He had goals and assists and was Oranje’s most prolific player under Koeman. De Boer changed it and used Wijnaldum as a box-to-box player, in a more serving role. Frenkie de Jong can play central mid in a controlling manner, he can play centre back and he play the playmaking left midfielder too. Koopmeiners has demonstrated to be able to play centre back and midfielder, while Klaassen and Van de Beek are capable of playing on the 10 spot, as box-to-box player and if need be as holding mids.

Up top the expectations for Memphis are high. Koeman used the Lyon forward as a striker. Under Frank de Boer Memphis need to be satisfied with a role from the left side. This allows for De Boer to use Luuk de Jong, an out and out number 9. As a result, the prolific duo of Wijnaldum and Depay is no longer coupled as a duo.

De Boer likes to see the Wijnaldum of Liverpool, just like he wants the box always to be “manned” by a number 9. In this way, Memphis has the freedom to roam and play where he feels he has the most threat. De Boer: “Players of that quality will always shine. You underestimate Gini and Memphis when you think they have to play close to each other to be excellent. Nonsense.” De Boer doesn’t want to push Memphis in a defensive role though. “It’s of course not the plan for Memphis to have to chase after Kyle Walker. Playing strong opponents might well mean that we will adjust. This is the flexibility I require.”

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