Tag: Malen

Second best Oranje robbed by Ref

I’m sorry guys, this is the only way I can see it. When you score 1-0 so you can sit back and trust your speedy forwards to finish off the opponent, a penalty for the opponent will definitely change the game. This ref got it wrong. Initially, he made the right call, but the VAR called the ref to the side of the pitch and the nervous guy felt the pressure and decided to go with the VAR and award a penalty.

We can talk for months about Memphis’ form or De Jong’s injury or Koeman’s weaknesses but in a game like this, which was always going to be close, a penalty can be deciding.

So lets recap: the ref made the on field decision that it wasn’t a penalty. If the VAR believes the ref makes a clear and obvious error, they can intervene. Did the ref make a clear and obvious error? No. I listened to the English commentary and they felt it should never have been a pen. Even Neville in studio in England felt it was ridiculous.

Kane didn’t even hit the target and his follow through hit Dumfries. Not the other way around. A real brave ref would have given Oranje the free kick. What is Dumfries supposed to do: nothing? And allow a free shot? He has a right to block and it was Kane who hit him. I have seen players red carded for a follow through like this.

And on top of that: Saka made hands right before the ball came to Kane! The rules are clear: if a player gets the benefit because a team mate made hands in the build up, it needs to be a free kick for the defending team. Didn’t Georgia have a goal disallowed for the same reason??


I believe the ref shouldn’t even be on the pitch as he was found guilty of taking a bribe on a game. Which got him banned for 6 months. 6 months??? Why not for life. He looked very nervous and made a series of odd decisions, mostly against us. I remember situations where Gakpo and Simons knicked the ball off an English player and the ref would call them back. Unreal. On a Veerman free kick, an English defender headed the ball corner, but the ref gave a goal kick. When captain Van Dijk protested this, he got yellow. The skipper was supposedly allowed to talk to the ref, right? Well… wrong!

Now, before you have a go at me: Oranje was second best. We started brightly on the counter and Xavi scored a scorcher in the first 8 minutes. After that, it was all England.

We couldn’t handle their midfielders who looked very alive. Mainoo is amazing, Foden finally came to life and Rice was trying to bully our midfield.

Tactical tweaks

Koeman surprised a bit from the start, with an offensive tactical trick that got us the first goal. He likes to use the box in midfield, but this time around, he decided to do it differently: two wide forwards high up (Gakpo and Malen) and Memphis playing as a 10. Meaning we actually played with three 10s: Reijnders to the left, Simons on the right and Memphis through the middle. This way, Koeman wanted to create an overload versus Rice and Mainoo.

Koeman: “I wanted to shore up the midfield and use our wide players for depth. I wanted them to stretch the pitch, but also Reijnders and Simons and Memphis needed to make runs.”

And Reijnders listened to the coach. His run in behind was the key for Simon’s goal. When Dumfries gets playing in, in the 7th minute of the game, Reijnders immediately makes a diagonal run from his midfield position. Walker responds too late and Guehi just picks off the ball. Simons wins the second ball from Rice and the rest you saw.

So, Koeman’s offensive tweak worked. But his defensive tweak fails and this is why we got under a lot of pressure.

He wants to force England to the wings, and Malen and Gakpo were to squeeze inside, allowing Reijnders and Schouten to stay in position against Foden and Bellingham. But the defensive tactics, brilliant on the whiteboard, fails because of the communication between the players. You need to signal the moment another player needs to take over and you have to be “on”  for this. England’s penalty comes from a move where Malen again forgets to mark his man (Trippier). Now Dumfries is up against Trippier and Bellingham. Dumfries gesticulates that someone needs to pick up Bellingham but no one sees it or responds. Bellingham moves the ball to the right to Saka and he starts the move resulting in his handling of the ball and the Kane dive the penalty.

In the first half, Mainoo and Rice are constantly playing from under the press in this way, like in the situation where Dumfries has a goal line clearance from a Foden attempt. Mainoo is free between the lines and he is able to pass into Foden. The amazing Dumfries action saves a goal.

Memphis’ injury might have been a godsend for Koeman as he quickly sent Veerman on, who has the skills to put a player one v one in the box, on a good day plus Veerman is needed to fill the gaps in midfield. I probably would have chosen Gravenberch, but what do I know.

We got back into the game late in the first half but decided to pace the game out, allowing Koeman to make changes.

With Wout in the second half we started to get more control and were getting more threatening, as the English seem to run out of steam. Foden had a shot on the post, (Dumfries a header on the bar in the first half) and there were some more moments, but not many. Virgil got the biggest chance from a Veerman dead ball but too close to Pickford. How he would love to score against the goalie who ruined Van Dijk’s 2021 Euros.

Picking Weghorst for the second half instead of Malen is logical. Malen wasn’t delivering. And Weghorst has done ever so well in all his sub turns. But the way we were playing, we needed a number 9 with ball skills, as Weghorst was playing far from their goal and had to play a pass and move game, which is not his strength. He doesn’t get many good crosses or service either. Veerman disappoints as left attacking midfielder but Koeman doesn’t want Veerman up against Foden. I think Gravenberch was the better option and Zirkzee the better options instead of Wout.

if we would have gone to Extra Time, we would have won it, I’m sure, with the likes of Zirkzee and Frimpong keen to come on and dazzle. But a brilliant late move involving Watkins put an end to it He will never score that goal ever again as it went exactly where there was one chance to go through on goal. And he got it.

Either way, Koeman made defensive changes which didn’t work out. Southgate made late offensive changes and those paid dividends.

Overall, a mediocre tournament with a good end result. I think we were not good enough, despite the easy road to the finals. Sure, missing Frenkie, Noa Lang and Wieffer might have been a slight issue, but overall, we didn’t do enough. Too many times, players like Dumfries or Memphis, or Weghorst were too sloppy in possession or simply not picking the best option. For me, Schouten, Verbruggen and De Vrij were the best players in Orange.

First half against England, we didn’t have wherewithal to find solutions and I think this comes down to something Van Basten said recently: “We learned our football on the street. We had to fight, there was no ref, there was not even a slick pitch, it was with bumps and puddles and holes and trees and sidewalks. And you had to be streetsmart and you had to be a bit of a bully at times. These kids today, they play on silky surfaces, with top quality balls and coaches telling them to not take risks. This is where we go wrong, particularly in The Netherlands. Everything is organised too well, if you ask me.”

I think Koeman will stay on as coach. The KNVB will probably find this Euros a success.

I believe Koeman needs to make way for a more innovative, modern and daring coach. I think his squad selection was fine, but he made some odd choices. I mentioned a couple for this game. I also believe that playing Frimpong and Dumfries together was a mistake. Just like I would have want to see Brobbey instead of Memphis in this match and definitely hoped for Van der Ven to come on.

Tactically, Southgate outsmarted him. His tactical tricks were very intricate and complicated and everyone should know by now that Malen is not reliable in matches like these.

It says something when every match you play (bar the England one) you concede first. Every match you need to change your starting eleven and tactics to get a result. It says something when you keep your trust in an old hand who simply fails to deliver (Memphis) or when you believe a certain player is not a 10 (Simons) when in the tournament, he ends up performing best on the 10 position. And on we go.

Koeman was clearly also unable to find a solution against England that worked (the trick with high and wide players didn’t really work as England has the run of the roost in the first half).

I say: Koeman out, not necessarily because he failed per se, but because we need to rebuild and that is not his forte. We don’t want to see Blind, Wijnaldum, Memphis, De Roon and Van Dijk at the next World Cup. With all due respect. Give the former Barca captain a statue in Zeist and move on.

Some stats: Schouten is top dog in ball retention. With 11 caps to his name, the upstart was one of the best Oranje players, as if he has been playing many tournaments in orange. He had 6 interventions, the highest number and 53 of his 56 passes reached the end destination. In total, he won the ball back 29 times this Euros, the highest of all players in Oranje.

Dumfries is now involved three times in a penalty given to the opponent. In the 2020 Euros versus Austria, against Argentina in Qatar and now in Germany again. Even thought it technically wasn’t a penalty of course.

Ten Hag, Slot and Peter Bosz would be logical options as team manager but they’re not available. Alfred Schreuder could work, but he too is under contract. Alex Pastoor is currently without a club and he has proven in the past to be able to play an attractive, dynamic game of football. He is a tough taskmaster and a great communicator and most importantly, he has balls.

Xavi Simons is now the youngest Oranje player ever to score in a knock-out game at a big tournaement ( 21 years and 81 days).

As for the players, I believe Schouten, Reijnders, Gakpo, Verbruggen, Dumfries and Simons have proven themselves. They’re future proof, with Schouten the best player of the tournament, for me, together with Stefan de Vrij.

De Roon, Blind, Wijnaldum and De Vrij will be question marks for the World Cup 2026 for me. As is Virgil, with all do respect.

Weghorst was amazing, but I can’t see him winning the spot in two years, with Zirkzee, Brobbey, Lammers and Dallinga all knocking on the door, which is seemingly still firmly in the hands of Memphis. Noah Ohio might also be an interesting prospect to follow as is Ruben van Bommel.

With Frenkie De Jong, Frimpong, Hartman, Van de Velde, Lang, Timber (2x) we can build a really strong squad.

Should our key guys remain fit, I think we should be considered a candidate for greatness for the 2026 World Cup.

I thank you for your contributions here, and for the generous donations some of you made to the blog (you know exactly who you are) and lets hope Spain ( second-rate Holland, of course) will beat this England on Sunday.


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What Oranje can expect from England

We’re playing against a top team, with absolute word class players but also against a coach who is said to wear a seat belt on the toilet, always going for security.

And for a reason. When Southgate was up for the job he asked advise from top data statisticians in football and their response: don’t concede! This nihilistic approach became his mantra.

The most criticised manager of this Euros is going to play a semi finals for the third time in a row. Before him, they only reached a top 4 position once since the 1966 World Cup debacle win. Southgate has done away with naive playing and the criticism doesn’t really affect him. The tactical plan basically results in a boring, chess match and Southgate doesn’t give a flying f***.

Due to their defensive strength, England will be a tough opponent for us. They like to look back at the 4-1 thrashing at the Euros 1996, which is the last time in a big tournament they beat us. And Southgate was on the pitch that day.

Southgate never complains about the lack of goals or attempts on goal. He can’t be bothered. But he will moan and whine about players losing possession. The term “clean sheet” can now be heard in most post-match interviews.

Jude Bellingham: “We had a tough match, but we didn’t concede. We only needed 1 goal to win and we eventually got it.”

Declan Rice: “We built this team on not conceding.”

Jordan Pickford: “Clean sheets are the foundation. If you want to win a tournament, don’t concede goals.”

The fear of conceding is easy to see in the way they attack.

Just like Oranje, Southgate uses the box concept, with two 10s (Foden and Bellingham) and two holding mids (Mainoo and Rice). Due to the fear of conceding a counter, they don’t really look for Foden or Bellingham often, with vertical passes but we will need to be alert of course.

Slovenia plays the most like Oranje, when out of possession. They fold back to a 4-4-2 and one of the strikers is constantly shielding Declan Rice. In that match, England had 72% possession but didn’t get the ball into the Slovenian box in the first 25 minutes of the game. Slovenia kept on playing towards their right side, the English left. Kieran Trippier and Guehi are not the best build up players, as Trippier is playing out of his usual position, a right footer on the left. He’s regularly clueless on the ball, to be fair. Both players had about 115 touches in that game, passing the ball to one another.

Slovakia does the same and Southgate eventually responds by putting right winger (!) Saka on the left back position. Southgate hopes Luke Shaw can take the LB role versus Oranje, but the Man United defender hasn’t played a full match since February. Put thim against Frimpong, Malen or Xavi and he’ll be punch drunk within 10 minutes.

England created the least opportunities of the semi finalists and with players like Kane, Saka, Bellingham and Foden, that does say something. Although… Southgate won’t give a crap.

A counter against England will be tough. Players like Kyle Walker, John Stones, Declan Rice and Kobbie Mainoo know what is needed to stop a counter. But it’s behind Trippier where Oranje can have fun.

England won’t play the high press. Should they score first, you can expect them to fold back. Southgate: “We don’t have the players for the high press.”

Against Switzerland, Mainoo is man marking playmaker Xhaka. In the second half, the former Arsenal midfielder decides to wander about and play more deep which results in Mainoo letting him go, allowing the Swiss player the run of the game.

It is very likely that England will play 5 at the back against Holland, as we play in the same way as Denmark, with two 10s attacking the space of the holding mids. The defenders were struggling against Denmark, with the penetrating runs by the Danes and he will also have seen that Oranje struggled versus the 5-4-1 of the Turks.

No matter what, England will allow Holland the ball and England will play compact a bit deeper than for instance Austria or Spain. England will not allow much room in the centre of the pitch.

It seems logical to play Wout as deep #9 with Memphis in the 10 role. The English central defenders – surprise! – are not as strong aerially as they used to be (Ferdinand, Terry, Adams).

England has placed one counter attack in their five matches (two incl 30 mins extra time). England doesn’t like open games. Too much chaos for Southgate and Kane is not a striker with speed. The danger men are Bellingham, Foden and Saka. These two can definitely hurt you.


England won’t have it easy against Holland. But… this is the same the other way around. The match will be tight, probably another chess match with the key area, the midfield (as per usual). Should Oranje score first, there are great attacking options from the bench for Southgate, with speed ( Toney, Palmer, Eze, Gordon) and guile (Alexander Arnold, Watkins).

I expect a narrow win for Holland: 2-0, with Memphis on the score sheet and Malen as the second goal scorer.

I would start with Brobbey, myself. He’s a tank, he’ll make war with the two CBs of England. Memphis and him do seem to have a good rapport. I’d also start with Xavi, I think he deserves to start as he too has speed and guile (like Malen).

Should we need more in the second half, use Weghorst to play against the war-weary English and Malen’s speed in case we are in front and need to counter attack.

I think Reijnders and Schouten should not be separated, and Gakpo will obviously also remain in the team.

Wout won’t be happy, but hey.. we’re not here to make him happy. We’re here to win games.


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Thanksgiving for Oranje

Let us have some Turkey! A positive Ronald Koeman mentioned that the whole squad is fit again. Bergwijn, who had to be subbed off versus Romania, and De Ligt, who had some muscle issues, are both fit and it feels like we’ll see an unchanged Oranje versus Turkey on Saturday.

Confidence is high and it feels like the players are now in the right mood to go and win this tournament. Thank you Austria!

But, Turkey won’t be a walk in the park. They always had gifted football players but up until now, no coach managed to give them a structure that works, a framework within which the players could excel. Until now, with manager Vincenzo Montella. One can expect a spectacle with his Turkey.

In the first four Turkey games, we saw 13 goals and no nation had a higher number of attempts. They also score third place in the list of successful dribbles. Turkey in possession is very good.

Montella, a former striker, is an adventurous coach but his defence lets him down regularly. The recently lost to Oranje, 6-1 and again 6-1 versus Austria! So Montella has found a trick, which worked versus Austria and which he’ll most certainly repeat versus Oranje.

He used to play 4-2-3-1 and got defeated significantly in several matches, as mentioned. The central defenders are sluggish and slow while the full backs tend to be on their bike bombing forward. Their defensive coordination and communication is lacking as defenders tend to jump towards the ball without a thought for the rest defence.

Montella decided to go with three at the back, creating a “sweeper” role available to give backing when an opponent finds space behind the Turkish full backs.

For Oranje, the mission is clear and simple (maybe simple to determine, but still hard to do):

  1. Create a man-more situation in midfield and
  2. push their defence back by running in behind their central defenders and
  3. lure their full backs up the pitch and use the space behind them (Ake and Gakpo did this against Poland)

When Oranje can do this, we’ll create chances.

Their threat is mostly the speedy Yilmaz on the right flank. It will be key for us to manage that side of the pitch and talk of playing Van der Ven instead of Ake is only logical.

Turkish midfielder Ayhan will be their third centre back, giving them options with his passing range. He has a tremendous diagonal which can hurt on the counter attack. Ayhan’s target is often left full back Ferdi Kardioglu, a former NEC player – Dutch born – who also played his youth rep matches for Oranje before deciding to go for Turkey. The former winger plays like a wingback on the left and created the most chances on this Euros tournament, along with our Cody Gakpo.

It makes sense to use Van der Ven versus Yilmaz and to use Bergwijn to stop Kardioglu. Frimpong can do it, but his partnership with Dumfries needs more time. Malen is not a star in tracking back and the fit and tactically astute Bergwijn should be able to. The last question will be: where will Guler play? The young Madrid star can play anywhere: false right winger? Or a false striker? Or as left midfielder? The left footed playmaker will offer Oranje heaps of problems and communication will be key.

We will need to find space on the flanks to make the Turkish centre backs nervous. A typical #9 like Weghorst won’t bother them too much. But speedy players like Gakpo or Simons driving the ball towards them will force mistakes.

On the other hand, Turkey can create something out of nothing. They have a number of creative ball players in the team and they can conjure up magic when close to our goal. The key is to keep them away from our box.

Holland needs to be good on the ball. Precise and quick positioning play will create spaces for us. Turkey has trouble keeping clean sheets and if Oranje is on song, we have more than fair chances to win this.

I can see another win for us: 3-1. Goals by Gakpo, Memphis and Reijnders this time around.


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Oranje bounces back strongly

The mood in the Oranje camp was not that bad, apparently. The mood amongst the Dutch media, analists, pundits and fans was. The abysmal performance against Austria stung, and it stung hard! Of course, Joey Veerman was the pantomime villain and some journalists even went as far to say Veerman would never wear the orange jersey again!

Koeman kept it cool, protected his players and vowed to work hard to regain the sympathy of the fans. Gakpo said it well in a presser: “We let the nation down”.

Romania was – on paper – a welcome opponent to play away the hungover. But a lot of people were skeptical and feared the worst. What would have happened if Romania would have ousted Oranje? The end of Koeman of course and two more years of chagrin and negativity. An a big strike through the dreams of oldies like Van Dijk, Wijnaldum and Blind.

But Koeman and Co have done their homework and the players straightened their backs. Romania didn’t play as defensively as shared in an earlier blog post. They tried to emulate what Austria did but Oranje kept their cool and allowed the Romanians to huff and puff. And then Gakpo was found: 1-0.

The Liverpool winger is becoming more and more the man of the moment for Oranje. He almost had four goals, but that second one for him in the match was chalked off for offside.

Koeman surprised with Bergwijn in de line up, but it’s clear in hindsight why he picked him. A master stroke, really. The reason is: the box in midfield. Koeman wants four midfielders to form a square and as Romania only had one holding mid anchoring their midfield, this meant he was constantly needing to decide who to go with. The result was usually that Dumfries ended up as right winger, as Bergwijn joined Xavi in midfield as a second 10. And boy did it work.

If we would have been a tad more aggressive on the right flank, Dumfries and Bergwijn could have had several runs through on goal, but tardiness allowed the Romanians last ditch tackles. These resulted in corners galore but as we all know, it’s not easy to score from a corner kick. Only 4% of all corners which are hit in to the box results in a direct goal. Van Dijk would be close though, with a header on the post.

This is how the first goal came to be and it demonstrates why Bergwijn was used as he was.

Bergwijn and Simons crowding out the holding mid. Simons looks for the right back who decides to mark the RB Leipzig man, giving Gakpo the space on the left (and Dumfries on the right). Romania was constantly struggling with this approach and for this reason Bergwijn was in the team, allowing Dumfries (and Gakpo) to shine on the wings.

The only criticism you can have on this Oranje team is, that it took way too long for the second goal to be scored. We had so many chances: Memphis, Reijnders, Simons, Dumfries, Gakpo, we could have scored 4 goals before half time. Despite this, we never really got in trouble and we ended up scoring a special second goal, when tightrope walking Gakpo dribbled on the byline and allowed Malen a tap in.

The former Arsenal youth product scored his second in the extra time, after a Romania corner kick and a great run and pass by one of the best on the day, Xavi Simons.

This line up worked well. Reijnders and Schouten were imperial in midfield. Their statistics are amazing.

Xavi was top in the pockets and a constant threat. Gakpo, well, what can you say. A threat, direct to goal, great skills and potentially the topscorer of the tournament. Dumfries and De Vrij played ever so well while the ever reliable Ake played how he has been playing for years now. Unassuming perfection.

I’m not saying this line up should from now on be The Line Up. Our squad is strong and we can mix it up in relation to form, fitness and opponent. We still have the likes of Brobbey, Frimpong, Zirkzee and Van der Van waiting in the wings.

Koeman also allowed Veerman another turn as a sub, and the maligned midfielder almost scored! Not using Veerman anymore means you could probably best send him home. Class from Koeman to pick him up and use him as he does have special skills.

Turkey is next up, on Saturday, and Orkun Kokcu (ex Feyenoord) will be suspended for the match.

We’ll do a deep dive into Turkey later in the week.

Rest me to thank the ones who so graciously and generously helped me out with a nice donation. This is really appreciated guys, you know who you are!

If you haven’t been able to drop some digits, please use this link to contribute to the blog with more than words…


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Oranje’s problems for Koeman to fix

This Euros is turning into a really fun tournament. Fans of Belgium, Holland and England might beg to differ but the neutral is enjoying him/herself immensely. It’s not a surprise that some teams (include Italy, France) are not at their best.

Most of the players in those squads have played 45+ games this season at the highest levels. It’s not a surprise that the bow will bend and break at some stage. The international calendar is a joke, really.

I’m sure England has more problems on top of that, with a coach who can’t gel a top team from top players and bemoans the absence of Kalvin Phillips as if he is Frenkie de Jong.

Belgium seems to play with fear. France seems tired. And Oranje… is a bit lost.

But… we do have Ronald Koeman. Not for his tactical skills, but for his luck! He was criticised at Valencia but still won the cup. He had to go at PSV, but still won the title. He’s got a golden d**k as his dad always said.

And his former assistant Gio van Bronckhorst once quipped: “If Ronald Koeman trips, it’s over a golden Rolex, that much luck does he have…”.

We need more of it. Normally, we ended up in the left side of the draw (Germany, Spain, France) but finishing third brings us Romania, Austria, England and who knows…

I will not be the one claiming “Romania is easy” because it isn’t. Remember the Euros under Frank de Boer? We got into the “easy side of the draw”. We only had to beat the Czechs and then Denmark and we could touch the cup. Right. Well, we lost in the first knock-out match. So lets treat Romania with respect.

We all know that we traveled to this Euros with 8 players remaining at home who normally would be in the squad. That is 30%. Frenkie, Quinten Timber, Jurrien Timber, Koopmeiners, Luuk de Jong, Noa Lang, Mats Wieffer, Marten de Roon, 5 midfielders. A pinch hitter and top header of the ball. And a mercurial winger.

So, we need to make do with an older sandpit midfielder and some untested players (at this level) in Veerman, Schouten, Reijnders and Gravenberch. Typically for the fans…they yell for years for coaches to bring new blood in the team and now Koeman finally does so because he has to, and the fans now want to bring more experience in the team. And I wonder… who? Clasie? Adam Maher? Kevin Strootman? Vilhena? Til? Donny van de Beek?

We need to do it with these lads.

So lets focus on where we go wrong tactically. Because we all know the individual skills of these players are there. The lowliest club team we have is probably Burnley ( Weghorst). All the others play for Inter, Man City, Spurs or RB Leipig or the likes.

So it’s tactics. What are the problems?

Against Austria Geertruida was gesticulating and yelling to his mates in the first 60 seconds!

Schouten, Veerman and Reijnders are too far away from the zone where Austria wants to attack and when De Vrij can’t step in due to the presence of Arnautovic, Geertruida is alone in the zone with three opponents coming at him.

Whatever Geertruida does – stay or attack the ball – he is in trouble.

Problem 1. Being a Little Bit Pregnant

These are the words of Ralf Rangnick: you can’t be a little bit pregnant. You’re pregnant, or you’re not.

It’s the same with pressing. You press, or you don’t. You can’t press a little. Rangnick is clear in his idea: three elements are important: ball, team mates and opponents. First you focus on the ball. Then on your team mates and then on your opponents. Against Austria, Holland was a little bit pregnant. Koeman: “We lacked aggression and allowed too much space We are way too focused on the man and defended like headless chooks, one might say. We were terrible and had no control whatsoever. We instructed the players: block the pass line to the sides which means the backs need to remain in their position. But we didn’t and then this is what happens. Malen let his man go, yes, but I didn’t want him to backtrack all the time. When their outside man comes inside, one of the central defenders needed to step in. Because I don’t want my wingers to play as full backs.”

Geertruida yelling at his team mates for someone to pick up Wimmer

And Austria found a quick solution. The central defenders and the backs stretched the pitch so much that Malen and Gakpo couldn’t close the gaps. But the main issue was Oranje being outnumbered in midfield.’

The Austrians played 3 midfielders as well but their wingers joined in. Koeman instructed his wingers, Gakpo and Malen to remain wide. And thus, Austria had two players in the pockets, available to be passed into. And this is why Geertruida’s first contributions to the team was his vocal warnings about the mismatch. It took 20 minutes for Koeman to respond.

Koeman used the 4-1-4-1 same as he did in the second half versus France. This is tough to do against a strong opponent as there is too much space to defend for the 1 holding defender. This is why most teams use two players in the engine room. Morocco used this system with great success at the World Cup. Whenever an attacking mid puts pressure on, another attacking mid needs to drop back to keep the balance.

Koeman and Lodeweges call this “the box” in midfield. Sadly, we hardly saw the box. And instead of defending the space, our midfielders kept on tracking their direct opponent, leaving all this space for the free man from Austria.

Interestingly, Koeman blamed Geertruida for the first goal, claiming he should communicate with De Vrij and force the central defender to take over, so the Feyenoord right back can stay in this zone. But Geertruida tried this. And De Vrij was covered by Arnautovic and simply couldn’t take over.

Geertruida pulled in to cover Wimmer and Prass is about to leave Malen for dead

It seems Koeman saw a different game and I have to say: this match clearly demonstrated that Koeman is out of his depth and should retire and leave coaching in modern football to the younger generation ( Van der Gaag, Slot, Pastoor, Buijs).

End conclusion: Oranje failed to defend the zones and allowed Austria to constantly find the free man in space. The reparations from the coach came way too late.

Problem 2: Plan B without safety net

Plan B was started after 20 minutes. Man marking across the pitch. Austria has great runners but their players are less comfortable in possession. Holland starts to get more control and started to win duels, with the long balls. However, Plan B doesn’t offer a safety net. When a player gets passed or loses his man, the opponent has a man-more situation. And players can be stretched. In both Austrian goals in the second half, the space between Van Dijk and De Vrij is wide open. Both goals were the result of Dutch players losing their man or not going with their man.

Koeman is again being unclear. Initially he blames the players for going too much with their man. And in Plan B, they have to stay with their man First blame, then accountability. No wonder players were confused.

We saw top players (Ake, De Vrij, Van Dijk, Reijnders, Gakpo, Malen) who play for top teams ( Liverpool, Man City, AC Milan, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan) completely lost.

Like in the juniors, all Dutch players focus on the left side, with 3 Austrians completely open on their left

And yes Gakpo and Schouten lost their marks, but those actually weren’t their marks! The second Austrian goal sees Gakpo spring 50 meters back and he’s covering for a team mate here.

And the winning goal late in the game was anothe example of bad communication. Schouten steps forward to put Sabitzer in off side but Van Dijk had drifted two yards back and gave the man of the tournament so far the opportunity to hurt Oranje.

Problem 3: build up by the full backs

Rangnick pushed the opponent – Oranje – towards the flanks. We were allowed our buildup there, instead of through the centre. And we did, and in principle, we should be doing ok with this. But the positioning of our full backs was not good enough. Koeman: “The full backs can’t stay at the same level as the midfielder, you need to create triangles. If they were higher or deeper, it would have worked.”

Problem 4: Where is the box?

Koeman talks about his plan of attack, using three midfielders, as this would give Oranje a dominant position, although… it didn’t. Because Austria moves with the ball. If the central defenders of Holland have the ball, their forwards drop back to stop the pass line to the midfield. If the ball goes to the full back, Austria pivots to that side and even the winger on the other flank will move inside. We needed a 4th option in midfield, to get control and Koeman’s “box” would offer this, but the box is non existent. Only after half time does Geertruida move into midfield to become Oranje’s fourth midfielder.

The box restored. When moving properly, we always have at least two options, if not more

Everytime we let go of the box (France, Austria) we lose control. Moving forward, it’s clear we need to get back to that principle.

Problem 5: We have no patterns or “automatisms”

The toughest job of any national team coach is creating patterns. For Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona have dominated the national teams, so automatisms came natural. Same with Bayern dominated Germany. In the olden days, with many Ajax players in the team, Oranje had a similar advantage (Overmars, Kluivert, Bergkamp, Ronald de Boer, Reiziger, Davids, Seedorf, Frank de Boer, Edwin van de Sar, Bogarde).

Take Geertruida now. He is a certainty at Feyenoord (and will make a big money move this summer). But he lacks the options he is used to at Feyenoord which makes him slower and a bit more uncertain. At Feyenoord, he gets the ball on the half space and he knows: I have a player to my right and and midfielder ahead of me for the forward pass. These triangles are what players need.

Geertruida at Feyenoord, always two forward passing options

But in Oranje, Geertruida only has one option (against Austria): the forward pass to a marked midfielder. And as a result, Geertruida disappoints. And Austria gets the time to press him. This can be said of many players at Oranje. When the box is not used, there are less options and that results in issues.

Geertruida in Oranje: can only go square and opponent is ready to pounce


There are still positive things to say. We created a number of good chances, despite all this ( Malen, Reijnders). We scored twice and we created more shots on goal and got more expected goals than Austria. So even with a less than mediocre performance, we still create. This says something about the quality of our players.

As Koeman said in the presser: “I am responsible for this result” and he is right. He made errors in the starting line up. He made mistakes in judging the Austrian plan of attack and he was not able to instruct his players properly re: their positioning. You could say that Rangnick beat Koeman as a coach. In a big way.

I won’t jump to the same conclusion as journaist Valentijn Driessen who implied Koeman should resign (yet). But in Koeman’s own words: we’re not knock-out. We are still in the fight And Koeman needs to show the world now, that he is capable of getting up.

Sources: VI, AD.nl


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Oranje’s worst game in decades

Oranje blew Austria off the pitch, as we have been doing for decades. Their last victory over us was in 1990, bwoahahahahaha losers!!! We were able to play from under their press and Malen scored our first goal in the first five minutes of the game, after a wonderful move, including the likes of Geertruida and Schouten! Koeman had prepped his team well and picked the perfect line up. Reijnders had a tap in for 2-0. Then Malen 1 on 1 against the Austrian goalie and obviously he scored! In the second half Gakpo immediately was sent away by Simons: 4-0. Depay followed up with his first of the tournament and Holland’s fifth, while Weghorst was able to score a “Van Persie” header: 6-0.

Koeman: “This team is hungry, the fight, they make the right decisions and as a technical staff we did prep them really well. I’m proud. We might be able to go all the way, you know?”.

Sorry guys, I have to redo my post.

I do not know what I saw. I watch Oranje since 1970 or so and I don’t think I have seen many games as bad as this. We played bad against Portugal in 2006, but at least we put up a fight.

Where did we go wrong? Under-estimating the opponent? Impossible. Anyone with eyes would know how Rangnick’s Austria plays. Was it too warm? Well…. Austria played in the same circumstances. Was there not much to play for for Oranje, as we were qualified already? No, because we could win the group or become 3rd or 2nd, so much to play for (apart from new contracts….).

It was a complete dressing down and the performance and lack of outlook for improvement are more sobering than the loss. Sure, finishing 3rd is not ideal but who knows… it might actually be better than 2nd. But that is all in hindsight. Losing is crap but losing this way is horrific.

We need to start at the start.

Koeman (and the players) mentioned before the game – many times – to be fully aware of what to expect from Austria.

So there is no excuse there.

Koeman’s line-up baffled me. He started with Geertruida, because Dumfries had a little issue. He could play, but why risk him. Fine. Geertruida did ever so well in previous games, in particular the game versus Canada, with Frimpong in front of him.

So you think: Frimpong will play!

But no. Donyel Malen is on the team sheet. A player who is renowned for his lack of work ethic and defending. Not a winger I would play against Austria! And have Malen and Geertruida ever played together??

And I think: don’t use Veerman. This game will be physical, our players won’t get much time on the ball and will be hassled on the ball. That is not how Veerman can play. Use Reijnders next to Schouten and put Xavi on 10. Simple.

Koeman uses Veerman as he is “the one who can play the ball over the top”. Huh? Schouten, Reijnders, Ake, De Vrij and Van Dijk cannot play these balls? Come on!! 30 mins into the game and Koeman ruined Veerman who spent time crying on the bench. ( I don’t think Davids or Robben or Van Bommel would cry. They’d kick a water bottle, a door, a linesman and go shower).

In the first 5 minutes of the game, Oranje was able to pass the ball to 3 team mates in a row only twice!!! Austria did it 42 times. Wow. This feels like Oranje versus Cyprus, but with Austria as Oranje and Oranje as Cyprus.

Our 4-1-4-1 set up got us in to trouble as well. As we ended up mainly with three midfielders ( Gakpo and Malen staying wide) and thinking that 3 midfielder would be enough. Well, with Arnautovitch dropping back and with their wingbacks joining midfield, our midfield was squeezed as a mouse by a boa constrictor. At times our 3 midfielders faced 5 opponents. And always there where it hurt: in the centre.

The first goal of Austria was a typical example. Arnautovic keeps De Vrij busy, the free man pushes up with the ball. Geertruida needs to make a decision and leaves his wing to confront the man with the ball, expecting Malen to track back to help out. Malen recognises it too late (again!) and decides to dash into the box and ends up scoring from the wingback’s cross.

In those first 5 minutes, Geertruida – right in front of Koeman!! – is gesticulating and screaming to his team mates as the Koeman tactics were wrong. Austria does it differently. No Baumgartner and with Sabitzer playing way higher up.

Schouten can’t defend the space, Veerman is lost. Geertruida constantly needs to choose and Van Dijk – our captain – is not able to fix the issue on field.

Oranje started zonal but you can’t defend the space if you constantly have less players in that zone than the opponent.

After 20 minutes, Koeman decides to go man to man on the field and instructs his players as such. But man to man means that if you lose your man once, you are in trouble.

Veerman can’t cope with the intensity and was hella untidy on the ball. Almost half of his passes didn’t end up at their destination and he fumbled possession a lot. Simons comes on for him and Reijnders goes back to the six position.

In my view, Malen should have been taken off as well.

Funnily enough, we should have been 2-1 up by them but both Reijnders and Malen miss sitters (at this level). Both miss kick the ball and in both cases I think it’s a matter of stress. Of muscle stress in the body. Both chances were easy, bread and butter opportunities. Hitting the target but seeing your attempt blocked is always a possibility, but misshitting the ball is usually a result of not being “loose”.

Koeman gives his players the hairdryer at half time, and I’m fairly sure this went both ways! The players must have psyched themselves up as early in the second half, Geertruida – now in midfield- wins the ball and launches Simons. He finds Gakpo who does a Gakpo: 1-1.

We all thought: business as usual now. But our midfield keeps on getting in trouble as we do exactly what Austria wants. We fail to play the ball through the centre, and are pushed to the flanks where they can press us easily.

Their second goal comes from their left, again. And again it’s Malen jogging back to cover his man, giving him all the time to pick a pass. Van Dijk and De Vrij leave a lot of space in between them allowing for these penetrating runs from the Austrians. And we see a series of errors. First Malen jogging back. The two central backs opening the door. Schouten defending and blocking the ball like a little girl and Gakpo needing to track back 50 meters to cover for another team mate and eventually, also Gakpo marks the player in wrong way.

We get back into the game using Plan B: Wout Weghorst. And within minutes, the simple approach works: good cross, header back, excellent ball handling (but not hands) by Memphis: 2-2.

And I foolishly thought: okay, now we’ll get them.

But, they got us. In the 83rd minute, it was Marcel Sabitzer running like a mad man with the ball, while Oranje was dreaming of another get out of jail card, it was Schouten who let his man go, De Vrij stepping up to put pressure on …. empty space and most tellingly leader and captain Van Dijk lurking two yards behind the last line of defence, thereby playing Sabitzer on. Who scored magnificently.

So both Gakpo and Schouten are guilty of letting a man go, but… it was never their man! Chaos on the pitch.

This Oranje was dressed down completely. Including the coaching staff!

After the match, the commentary of the players was dumbfounding. Sombre, cliched comments like “I wasn’t good” and “we need to do better” and “they were everywhere” and “I wasn’t sure who would pick up who”.

Captain Van Dijk didn’t get much more out than container terms and cliches

Jerdy Schouten was the only player who actually talked about football, tactics and application. All the others were quick to defend poor Joey, by saying “the coach could have subbed all of us”. Well well well…

Even Koeman had to admit: yes it was a disgrace. And he got the question: if we are kicked out of the tournament after the first knock-out game, what will this mean for your future? Koeman has a contract till 2026 (incl World Cup). Koeman made it clear he’d probably pack his bags if that was going to be the case.

All in all, in my book, Memphis was one of the better players and scored a really good goal. Gakpo had his moments. Ake was as per usual pretty good and Verbruggen can’t be faulted, but otherwise…

The most disturbing thing for me, was the lack of maturity, the lack of tactical smarts and leadership on the pitch.

Sure, Koeman didn’t pick the right players nor tactics, but when you have experienced players from City, Liverpool, Inter Milan and Atletico on the pitch, you expect leadership. It felt like Geertruida was the only player, with Schouten, who was trying to make a change really early in the game already.

Where was Van Dijk? Who can play the Van Hanegem, Van Bommel, Wes Sneijder or Frank de Boer role? Grabbing a team mate by the ears and read him the riot act? Did it come to this in our society (not just football): we look at the coach to see what needs to be done? We look at the WHO to tell us what to inject? We look at the government to find out what is appropriate and what is not?

Disgusted. In one word.

Tell me your solutions please. And not “Koeman needs to go!”. That doesn’t help now Tell me your solutions for the next games.


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Oranje gets 3 points and some valuable lessons!

After some solid performances by our lads in their club teams (PSV, Liverpool, RB Leipzig, Atalanta, Man City), it felt that we could have a good go at this Euros. The last friendly results were also pretty hopeful. Despite the absence of Frenkie de Jong, Luuk de Jong, Marten de Roon and Noa Lang, I believe we all felt that this could be our tournament. And… it still can be.

But the Poland game did put our noses on the some of the facts (Dutch expression).

If have to summarize the game, I’d say:

  • good start
  • some good chances
  • one moment of lack of concentration and Poland scores
  • we keep on going and get a bit of luck on the Gakpo goal
  • Oranje’s energy drops after 60 minutes or so
  • Koeman needs to make a change in the second half as Veerman and Simons (and others) are less effective
  • Wijnaldum comes on but isn’t found in between the lines
  • with 10 minutes to go, Koeman brings two secret weapons ( Weghorst and Frimpong)
  • Weghorst scores

We can be happy with the 3 points and we can be very happy with the performances of Ake, De Vrij, Schouten, Reijnders, Verbruggen and Gakpo.

We need to be critical on Van Dijk, Veerman, Memphis, Simons and Wijnaldum.

Van Dijk wasn’t terrible but showed some weakness in positioning. Veerman had to deal with a man marker (Szymanski) and had no answer to this. We saw this in earlier matches where Frenkie was manmarked and had to work hard to get away from his man. Veerman is a passer. Not a dribbler. And he doesn’t have the explosive runs Frenkie or Reijnders has. The switch with Reijnders back to the 6 position worked well, as he has more legs and can take a man on. We have seen Veerman struggle with this before and it’s been my ongoing criticism of him.

Simons started fresh but ran out of steam. Memphis tried hard and potentially too hard. That shot he hit hard over the bar was a 100% chance for a player like him and it didn’t need that power. Relax, Memphis!

Wijnaldum, finally, was told by Koeman to not drop deep to get the ball but to stay close to Memphis and find space between the lines, where the midfielders/defenders were supposed to find him. Sadly, they didn’t.

Btw, we did get to 21 shots. The highest number since that dreadful first game against Denmark in 2012. When we had 32 attempts on goal and scored zero goals.

Another fascinating stat: in the 90 minutes of play, Oranje didn’t use a single Ajax player. This is the first time in 95 matches!!

Some conclusions:

Joey Veerman struggles with man-marking

Szymanski wants to hold Veerman’s hand

You need to be dynamic to lose your man. Frenkie would move to left wing or right back or wherever he had to go to make the man marker uncomfortable. Joey is too static. Plays too much in one pace and lacks the dribble and speed to bypass an opponent and create a man over situation. Yes, against Iceland he played well. Why? He didn’t encounter man-marking. This needs to be taken care of.

I wonder if Koeman will use Veerman versus France. Their midfield – no, their whole team – consists of top athletes. My fave line up below.

We defend set-pieces terribly

A free run towards the ball for Buksa

Again, we have to mention Veerman. He was one of the blockers in that situation but he didn’t get a grip on Buksa, who could out-jump Dumfries and head the ball home. Veerman did try to pull Buksa’s jersey, only briefly, but Memphis was totally ball watching. Van Dijk: “We’re sick of that goal. In a dead ball situation, this has to improve. The goal scorer had a free run towards the ball. That needs to improve!” was his opinion. One comment in defence of the Memphis and Veerman (and Schouten). They were facing a number of tall lads in that box.

Nathan Ake is our playmaker

When Frenkie is absent and his replacement Veerman can’t get a foothold in the game, it’s good to know that one of our centre backs can play playmaker. The City player started so many great moves and basically had two assists. The second one for Weghorst doesn’t officially count as the ball got a slight deflection.  Frankowski decided to press on Ake, who was seen as the danger man at Oranje’s side, but that resulted in the Polish wingback to be drowning and offered Gakpo the time and space to shine. The result: Bednarek had to deal with Gakpo. Who is a very agile and elegant player, whereas Bednarek has trouble turning even without an opponent in sight.

Oranje has a strong bench

With Memphis upfront, we actually have Bergwijn, Frimpong, Malen, Brobbey, Zirkzee and Weghorst who can come in to change things around. Weghorst has made the difference already at the World Cup, some friendlies and now also at the Euros. Holland lost its grip slowly in the second half and Koeman has a nice menu of options available to him. Wijnaldum didn’t impress, but his little run was key for the Weghorst goal. In a way, that was an assist. Frimpong and Malen add speed and depth to the team while the strong Brobbey could well be a key player for us versus France.

Bart Verbruggen does his job

The youngest Oranje goalie ever at a final tournament had no nerves. He had 6 more than decent saves, which is the highest number for any Oranje goalie in 5 years. His footwork is also lauded and De Zerbi taught him well. Keep your foot on the ball and pull the opponent in, to create space elsewhere. It seems like the ongoing musical chairs of the keepers is well over.

My musings for the France game

I know it’s early days as the France game isn’t until Friday and lots can happen in between. But, I think the midfield we played versus Poland won’t be good enough versus France. I hope Veerman can accept it, but I would use a different line up versus France.

I’d opt for Memphis on the left. Against two big, strong centre backs, Memphis – who is not 100% – would probably drown. On the left, he will get a chance to roam and get touches. I’d play Frimpong on the right. Allow Simons a rest but don’t write him off! I’d play Brobbey as a 9. Strong, grit, fight, speed. Let him deal with these two monsters and let them deal with Brobbey.

I’d use Gakpo as a 10, with Reijnders and Schouten in the engine room. Gakpo learned to play midfield at Liverpool and will be key to give a 75 minute “give it your all” game. I would also opt for Geertruida as he can play into midfield. There won’t be overly much space for Dumfries, I don’t think and I find him still a dissonant in possession and not necessarily that good a defender.

If Giroud plays, I’d use De Ligt.



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Koeman calls up Jan for the blog!

Hi my friends, the last months on the blog were quite….quiet. My dear friend Tarcisio is having some IT issues and as our boys will be playing for the title soon, I thought it prudent to get back here and commentate on the Oranje games.

Word of warning: I will not go into the deep end for other national teams. Focus will be Oranje and their games.

And a big ASK: I have had to spend more money into getting the site back up and running.

After years of offering this platform, there have always been just a handful of committed fans who would support the blog with some digits. You probably know the cost of running this sortathing?

At the same time, I do see some people really getting a lot of joy/mileage from this platform so I need to ask all who can, to chip in a bit for the opportunity I offer people to share stories, their comments, their comical banter and at times their less than friendly banter.

If we value this orange community, please share a bit of your materialised energy so we can keep it going.

A proper post, soon! For now, please use the link below:


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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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The State of Orange (Oranje)

As a national team coach, you want to be able to mould your best team, tactics, approach and squad by now, some 3 months before the tournament.

The two friendlies, against serious opponents, should have told us many things. And it did. But not sure if it was what Koeman wanted.

Not sure what the plan was versus Scotland, with the new 3-5-2 set up (or 3-2-3-2).

Disappointingly for Koeman, we won’t know for sure as the execution was not great. Some players didn’t reach their usual level (Wieffer, Simons, Frimpong) while Memphis is clearly not 100% fit.

Add to that the absence – again – of Frenkie and it’s hard to ascertain where we stand.

Versus Scotland, we played under par for an hour or so but still won 4-0. Against Germany , we played well at stages but lost 1-2.

Two corner kicks: two goals. Fixable, sure, but not something Koeman will be happy with.

Koeman was able to use his subs and shift form shape to shape, so the flexibility of the team and the adaptability of the team seems to be getting better.

I think, when all the players will be fit, we do have a very good squad. But I also think that France, England, Spain and Italy are a bit further than us, in terms of solid game play, patterns and key players.

Sadly, as it happens with every tournament, we won’t have all players available at the Euros.

Some conclusions:

Stop the silly systems debate

As always, people spend hours debating which system Holland should play. This is an irrational discussion. We played 4-3-3 versus Scotland, or so it seemed. But it was actually a 3-5-2. Against Germany, we played 3-2-3-2 but again, in the practice it was. four man defence as one of the midfielders dropped back to start the build up. Daley Blind was hardly ever in defence, but played as an extra midfielder and at times as a number 10 even. Joey Veerman dropped back to assist the defenders in their build up. Ake moves to the left back space.

In the second half, Blind kept the pitch wide, allowing Memphis to explore the half spaces on the left hand side.

Ake as left centre back, Blind playing wide wingback in a 4 men midfield.

What system is this? Never mind. It’s about space and how to use the space. Not about numbers on a playing field, when the ref whistles to start the match.

Creating the free man

Koeman is keen to use his midfielders and front men to create a free man in our team. He put Reijnders one v one on Kroos and instructed Memphis to harass Andrich, the Germany holding mid. This forced Germany to build up via Tah. This way Koeman could stack the centre of the pitch with two holding mids (Veerman, Schouten) and always kept three defenders to deal with the mercurial Germany forwards.

Blind playing central midfielder

This chess face-off meant that Germany was still in control on their own half, but were not able to be a threat against us, in terms of goal scoring opportunities.

Here Blind is playing as second 10

Donyell Malen is like a panther

We have quite a number of top forwards or top potentials in the attacking line, with Lang (now injured), Gakpo, Simons, Brobbey, Zirkzee, Stengs and Bergwijn but Malen offers something the others players don’t have. Malen is explosive, fast and very willing to make runs deep. The other players all want the ball to feet. Lang and Simons do tend to go deep, as does Bergwijn, but not as their first instict. Malen is like a panther, lurking and watching for his change to spring into action.

This makes him a unique player in the squad and should cement his spot in the squad if not the team. In the first half, Malen was instrumental in our first goal, even though he never touched the ball. He had two more breaks and in the second half he presented both Memphis and Reijnders with 2 100% chances. Both players mishit the ball and aimed too high.

Yes, Malen played well but goes to sleep here and allows Musiala some touches in the box

Still, he has his moments of snoozing off (like big cats do) and he was at fault, partly, with the first German goal. He didn’t cut off the pass and was a bit late in reacting to their short corner allowing Musiala to be a threat ( who assisted the ball to the goalscorer).

Jerdy Schouten is a keeper

Schouten played against Germany like he does for PSV, all season long. Very tight on the ball, always in control, always with great care. Van Gaal didn’t think he was good enough after half a game for Holland but Peter Bosz and Ronald Koeman are convinced. On top of that, Schouten plays a lot of forward passes as well, in true Frenkie de Jong style, starting a number of threatening moves. When he got subbed, at the 75th minute, he had most interceptions to his name as well. I don’t want to be over the top here, but he would be a top replacement for Toni Kroos at Real Madrid.

I think Schouten passed his exams and will battle it out with Koopmeiners, Wieffer, Reijnders, De Roon and Veerman for the next-to-Frenkie spot.

Our goalies are fine

We don’t need to worry about our goalies anymore. Flekken and Verbruggen both impressed. Bijlow will return. Nick Olij is a fine shotstopper and Bizot has impressed in France.

So, it seems we might be in good shape this summer.

But if we go through to the last 4, I believe it will be partly due to luck and a favourable draw.

I don’t think Oranje deserves to be seen as a top contender but with the right mix and the key players available and in form, we can surprise.

Koeman called this international break “the final exams”. The jigsaw pieces have not all been in place to show the big picture and the former Barca coach is still playing with them.

Verbruggen impressed

His own conclusion: “I have not been able to find the right combinations, and I fear it’s the result of this injury ridden campaign. And as the calendar keeps getting fuller, I don’t understand why we are now being limited to take 23 players instead of 26. We know already from experience that from the date we have to send in our list of names and the first match, players will drop off. That is always the case.”

Koeman said he already knows who his Euros goalie is, and it seems to be Bart Verbruggen. Only Bijlow is fit and plays a series of impressive matches will he be able to replace Bizot as third goalie.

In defence, it is clear that Virgil, Ake, De Ligt, Dumfries and Geertruida are certain of their spot. Frimpong didn’t impress this time around, but used properly, the speedy right wing back will make the squad, as will multi-functional brainiac Daley Blind.

In midfield, a fit Frenkie is on the bus as well, as will Reijnders be. He didn’t disappoint in his Oranje matches and impresses with his legs, lungs, intelligence and technique.

Wijnaldum seems a shoe in as well. Why select him now otherwise. Koeman has loyalty to Gini and knows the former Feyenoord talent gels well with Memphis. Mats Wieffer has mixed results but Koeman rates the midfielder high and he does have some credit. But he’ll need to show it to the coach in the coming matches.

Schouten is in the same boat as Wieffer. Very promising but a thin foundation as yet. Koeman will be focusing on their performances in the coming months.

Marten de Roon will most likely be in the squad as the only enforcer we have. He never complaints and is one of the leaders off the pitch. Koopmeiners however, who had to leave the camp with an injury, is exceptional in the Serie A, but never really impressed in the orange jersey.

Joey Veerman is not for everyone. Very good on the ball, vulnerable without. He played well in the past Oranje matches but was exposed in several CL matches for PSV. Koeman will throw a dice regarding Veerman and Koopmeiners.

Quinten Timber might nog have been able to show enough in this break and might need to focus on a spot after the Euros, to replace Wijnaldum on the road to 2026.

Xavi Simons is one of the few creative sparks in the team and despite a disappointing series, he will be on the bus as well.

Upfront, it seems Memphis, Gakpo, Malen and Weghorst are certain of their ticket. The question marks will be stalwarts Berghuis and Bergwijn, who both need a super strong finish of the season. Koeman mentioned before that he finds Berghuis to be a unique player and therefore potentially a part of the squad. This gives Koeman another option on the right wing.

Calvin Stengs might have a super end to the campaign and also be in the running for the right wing position. Brobbey and Zirkzee will also be right in Koeman’s radar for the coming games and Brobbey will be part of the squad when fit, it feels.

Micky van der Ven, the left footed centre back of Spurs could also make the squad as his speed and ability to play on any spot in defence makes him an ideal squad player.

Some more question marks: Q Hartman, Stefan de Vrij, Nick Olij, Ian Maatsen and Noa Lang.

And what to do with Summerville… He’s on fire for Leeds and is close to a senior call up, in particular when one or more attacking options (Gakpo, Malen, Simons) fall away with injuries…

Strap yourselfs in, we’re heading to an exciting finish of the season.

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