My friends, it’s been 7 years but we’re back at the top level. Sadly, my web developer and myself have not been able to reach the knock-out stages of the Website update League :-(. We wanted to present you with a cool Football Pool for the Euros, with real prizes to boot, this last week but the code simply doesn’t want to do what we want…
We tried until just now, but it is too hard. Our apologies! No Football Pool this time around…
So, we will lead this post with my predictions.
And I predict an Oranje win, of course. I have to!
But yes, I do see France, Belgium, Spain are ahead of us. And England! Probably Italy too. And one can’t rule out Germany, ever. Nor can you rule out Portugal.
So we are probably 8th in the top 8, but I can see us win. Traditionally, the World Cup title holders perform badly after a win (Spain being the exception to the rule). So France is out. We’ll play Germany in the Round of 16. I don’t care who else is left standing but we’ll beat them all. We do well against stronger teams, and we’ll pounce on the counter.
We’ll beat England in the finals, while Belgium and Spain play for the 3rd spot.
I will focus my attention on the Ukraine game now and will come back to address the criticism by some Oranje fans here ;-).
Ukraine has had an eventful past few years, with a complete overhaul as their main story. The Shakhtar Donetsk core of the team replaced by the Dinamo Kiev core. Coach Shevchenko was forced to refresh his team. Before the 2020 summer, they weren’t beten for 18 months. After the Corona restart, they imploded and lost six out of eight games.
Spain beat them 4-0. France was more ruthless: 7-1. They conceded 22 goals in 8 games. Shevchenko went the same route as De Boer, implementing a 5-3-2 and it wasn’t a full blown success. This time they kept France at 1-1 but that was also the result vs Finland. When they started their practice games for this tournament, they shelved the 5-3-2. And got the exact same result playing Bahrein: 1-1.
It seems the abandoned the 5-3-2 and will be playing a form of 4-3-3.
In this system, Atalanta midfielder Malinovskiy and Man City left back Zinchenko are key, in midfield. In the 5-3-2 system, the coach can’t play these next to each other. Dribble king Yarmolenko is also lost in the 5-3-2 so it seems unlikely they’ll be starting like that against us.
Defensively, Ukraine plays a 4-1-4-1, which is clearly the hand of assistant coach Mauro Tassoti, the former team mate of Gullit, Van Basten and Rijkaard at AC Milan. The former world class defender has learned his lessons from magician Arrigo Sacchi: always protect the centre.
They don’t play the high press game, like Kiev used to do. They don’t mind sitting and press with the full backs.
For us, the options are behind their defence line. Their lines play compact so there will be space to run into. This would beg for the use of Donyell Malen. The Ukraine defenders are not too comfortable in spaces and having to deal with speed.
We need to be very careful when we seem to be dominant, for instance with dead balls or corner kicks. Turkey scored twice from a Dutch corner, basically, on the counter and Ukraine seems to want to do this too, as they recently demonstrated against Cyprus. Other than that, they’re not a counter team anymore. The most likely forwards are Marlos and Yarmolenko, two players who want to get the ball to feet.
This is Ukraine breaking vs Cyprus
And Turkey on a break vs us…
With the Zinchenko and Malinovskiy on the pitch, Ukraine tends to want to play a pass and move game, not unlike the Dutch.
Based on this, using the 5-3-2 against this 4-3-3 seems ridiculous and unnecessary. Anyway, the cliche opinion that Ukraine is a counter team is obsolete. They do defend compact, zonal, and they like to build up from the back. Our chances is with a quick ball over the top. If there is no pressure on the ball in midfield, we should be able to penetrate and create chances.
I say: 3-0 for Oranje.
I hope Frank will play 4-3-3 in this line up