When Ronald Koeman criticised his team for playing gallery football vs Belarus, he was clearly trying to temper the optimism in and around the team… Good goals, no goals conceded, some nice gallery play… Oranje will win the Euros AND the World Cup.
Koeman knew, that with a vengeful Germany coming to Amsterdam, he needed to get his team to be sharp and forget about Belarus. I mean… Belarus!
People in Holland were already claiming Oranje would beat the dreadful Germans 5-0!! As if. And Germany was never in the same situation as Oranje recently. We didn’t qualify for 2 major tournaments! In a row. That is not the same as an older Germany team that disappointed at the World Cup.
And that is what we saw in the Holland – Germany game. There was nothing mediocre about Germany.
On Saturday, before the game, Koeman already predicted that it was going to be a tactical game. “You never know which Germany shows up. They have been trying at least three systems in the past year… We don’t know who he’ll play or in what system he’ll play.”
Koeman is another coach in a not so long list of coaches who adapts his team and tactics to the situation. 4-3-3 was sacred for a long time. Van Basten made some changes in that system, Van Marwijk followed him and stuck to 4-2-3-1 for a long time. Van Gaal even went a step further with 5 at the back. A system Koeman tried and tested too.
Just like in an earlier match vs our neighbours, Koeman needed a tactical switch at half time to get his team to respond to a very good playing Germany.
The first 25 minutes…
Koeman already emphasized before the game that it was ridiculous for people to be too optimistic about the result. Oranje was tremendously effective in that 2-2 match, which Germany didn’t deserve to draw and decided to use Promes for Bergwijn, as the former has been playing as a wing back for Sevilla and doing really well in that role, allowing for more flexibility in his team. And with the tactical trick Low came up with (Goretzka playing as offensive mid to make Frenkie’s life hard), this was a good thing too.
Oranje without possession
Koeman and Lodeweges jotting down new tactics for 2nd half
When Oranje doesn’t have the ball, they revert back to a 5-4-1. With Babel (right), Promes (left) and Wijnaldum and De Roon in the mid section behind Memphis. Frenkie de Jong would drop back as third centre back, just like we did against France. De Ligt and Van Dijk can pressure forward when the situation arises, in this set up, as Gnabry and Sane love to wander and drift. Once Oranje loses possession for a spell, Holland plays even more compact, with Promes dropping back as left back, Blind squeezing inside as centre back and Frenkie de Jong pushing into midfield to put more pressure on the ball.
Oranje in possession
When Oranje does have possession, they stick to the 4-2-3-1. The main issue in this situation, is Goretzka, as he interrupts the passing line to De Jong, which blocks a quick and direct build up for Oranje.
Build up to the 0-1
The lack of grip in the first stage of the game is apparent in te 15th minute. A long ball doesn’t arrive, Gnabry drops back to midfield, plays into Kroos who has the field in front of him and without real pressure on the ball. Then, it all goes quick for Germany. Kroos launches Schulz on the left flank and his cross is expertly finished by Sane. De Ligt slips, which is a bonus for Sane, but Oranje’s centre is complete played off the turf by the running patterns of Sane and Gnabry. And even with Frenkie and Daley assisting Van Dijk and De Ligt, it simply isn’t enough for Oranje to get grip on the dynamic Germans.
Minute 26 – 45
Midway the first half, Koeman makes changes. Babel moves to the left and Promes will play on the right, converting to a classic 5-4-1 once Germany has possession. A copy of the tactics from Gelsenkirchen when Holland wiped the 0-2 off the board, to finish 2-2.
Oranje when Germany in possession
This seems to work wonders. In the first 5 minutes, Babel gets two massive opportunities, both presented to him by Promes. Germany realises quickly, by realising that they can now find space via the axis on the pitch. In the 34th minute, Gnabry benefits from this, when De Ligt doubts whether he should press on. Van Dijk has similar doubts with Goretzka. Rudiger recognises the moment and plays over the top to Gnabry. Van Dijk seems to push him to the left wing, but he doesn’t do enough. Gnabry turns inside and curls the ball into the top corner: 0-2.
Minute 46 – 87
In the half time break, the situation seems desperate. Holland is 0-2 down and has no control over the match, whatsoever. The biggest pain points: De Roon can’t get close to Kroos. And Gnabry is continuously unmarked while Oranje has no alternative for build up if Frenkie de Jong can’t be reached. Frenkie de Jong: “Our biggest issues were in midfield. Gnabry, Sane and Goretzka were constantly free. We were simply not positioned right and didn’t press on well enough. We also didn’t press Germany to the side well enough.”
Koeman brings Bergwijn for Babel and that was the difference. Holland switches to 5-3-2 and goes toe to toe with Germany. And suddenly, Germany is struggling to find the free man.
Another switch was made by Koeman in midfield. Now, Wijnaldum takes care of Kroos and he does a much better job. And Memphis and Bergwijn manage to push the ball to Ginter, which stops Germany using the strong left side (Schulz, Kroos, Sane). And Germany resides to long balls forward, which is bread and butter for Van Dijk and De Ligt.
These are all the ingredients needed by Oranje to stage a comeback.
It helps that Holland gets the 1-2 very early in the second half, from a super cross by Memphis onto the head of De Ligt. His first Oranje goal.
A good attacking move, started by Blind and executed well by Promes before it reaches Memphis via Wijnaldum, and Memphis scores the 2-2. Low tries to regain control by bringing Gudogan for Goretzka but Holland controls the match, as it is easier for the Dutch to forward press with Frenkie in midfield and Daley as third centre back.
But, as per usual, it is the individual class that will determine the end result. In this case, its Marco Reus. He surprises De Roon on the inside and passes the ball to the forward runner Schulz. It’s a combi of Reus’ class and miscommunication in Oranje that causes this goal, with De Roon ending up as right back and Dumfries completely lost.
The loss was unnecessary. Also something Koeman realised. “I am to blame. I could have made the change. It was 10 minutes before the end, I considered bringing Ake for Promes and cherish the draw. But we kept on attacking and Promes looked fresh and I figured we would win this 3-2 at the death. But we lost it.”
But the loss is not that terrible. Oranje should win all other matches and get a result away in Germany. Why not? And matches like this are necessary for the team to learn to self adept. In stead of waiting for the coach to come up with the solutions. Daley Blind, Virgil van Dijk, Frenkie de Jong, Gini Wijnaldum… You’d expect some initiative from them too.
With Davy Propper fit again and Donny van de Beek chomping at the bits, I can see Marten de Roon lose his spot. I also believe we have better right backs available… I hope Karsdorp will have a string of games soon as I believe he is better at this point than Dumfries…
Source: The Excellent VI Pro