Tag: Rice

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??

Disgusted.

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.

Conclusion:

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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Oranje’s eye on the prize!

What a season! We saw some incredible football this last season, both domestically as internationally… and we have all the right to be excited about our lads, as our season isn’t even over. Who would have thought: Ajax to progress so far in the CL and two Dutch players lifting the CL trophy, while Oranje is in the race for a real prize as well?

Ironic how the CL finals, between two exciting teams, was so terribly disappointing!

So all the focus is back on Oranje now and the Nations League. Most players are keeping mum about any transfers as they all want to deal with that first trophy first…

So what can we win?

This Nations League is a real prize and reward, for the nation that wins it, but it will not result in a Euro tournament ticket! It’s important to keep reminding people.

The qualification for the Euros is a separate competition and Holland has 3 points after 2 games (win vs Belarus and a loss vs Germany). As Holland won the Nations League group, we are entitled to play offs should we not qualify organically. That play off ticket has nothing to do with the upcoming games though.

Prestige and money are the only things at stake now. Today, the Nations League doesn’t mean a lot, but in 1960, when the first European Championship was played, that didn’t mean much either. In 1960, there were only four nations competng. And the Soviet Union won it. But, today that tournament is a big thing and the Soviets are really in the history books. This Nations League might grow into something like that too and why not win it if you can?

The Dutch FA has already made 4,5 Mio Euros by reaching this level. We can earn another 6 Mio Euros if we win the whole thing. We can also add more coefficiency points for Dutch football if we do well, that is also important!

Oranje will go into the games (England on Thursday evening and the finals or losers-finals on Sunday) with a lot of positive vibes. Ajax did ever so well. De Roon and Hateboer will be buoyant, Gini and Virgil obtained legend status, and for most players, the season prior was really good.

England will have a mix of disappointed and tired players (Spurs) and confident players (Chelsea, City, Liverpool). Overall, England might be a tad more leggy, as all their players do play in the toughest league and most also played a World Cup last Summer… That might just be the difference.

Oranje will be fresh and eager, England might be a bit more tired. We’ll see

Fact is that coach Southgate has done really well with his young squad and he’s moved away from the 5-3-2 he used against Koeman’s Oranje in the first match the former Barca Snowflake coached for us (lost 0-1). England is now all 4-3-3 with speedy forwards (Santo, Sterling, Rashford), a strong hold up player / target man in Kane and offensive full backs.

Koeman will most likely play the 4-2-3-1 to counter the Poms and it’s highly likely that Gini and Virgil will start.

Ronald Koeman was briefly the topic of a debate in Holland, when news seaped through from Spain that Barca might be eyeing the former defender as the new head coach. Koeman always said it was his dream to one day coach the Catalonians. But, he also said coaching Oranje was his dream, so… Only two days ago, he ended the debate, saying that he gave his word to the KNVB and will not abandon Oranje mid project. Good on him!

“It’s about time we start and play a match. I am getting antsy. We had time with half the squad in Zeist, we went to Portugal to prepare too. Everyone is keen and fit and we can’t wait to finally start the game. Virgil and Gini will start, they won’t feel any fatigue or knocks, not after winning the CL. And yes, I will have to disappoint some lads. That is what it is. It’s the job. If I couldn’t do this, I would be fit for a coach,” Koeman said.

And he went on: “We are looking good. I think as a squad we made progress, we play well together and we can play different systems. The players all have developed further individually as well and the spirit in the team is excellent. We are keen, we are hungry and we know who we are, again. England is a touch opponent though, as they are not much different from us. Young players, creativity and flair, they are hungry too and are capable of playing different styles and systems. I think England will be one of the favorites to win the EC 2020 actually.”

Koeman is positive. “I think we can beat them, sure. We didn’t have to lose against them two years ago, even. And we only got better and we are very eager. If you win and things go well, you don’t feel the fatigue. In 1988 I won the European Cup with PSV and we went on to win the Euros too. Yes, it’s a long season but you live for this sortathing.”

Mathijs de Ligt is constantly asked about his future. The young Ajax skipper has decided to keep his mouth shut until after the Nations League. Rumours abound, of course. Koeman: “This lad.. he’s only 19 years old but plays like a 25 year old. The sheer fact he is captain of Ajax and has players like Schone, Tadic and Ziyech who allow him to lead, that says a lot. And he’s smart. Eager to learn and to keep on doing extra work. I have talked to him about his future, yes, but that remains between us. I just hope he moves to a big club, he’s ready for it.”

England midfielder Declan Rice caused some controversy when he said earlier in an interview that he will stop Frenkie de Jong from playing “even if he has to get dirty”. Koeman doesn’t think England will resort to negative play though. Koeman: “I think he didn’t mean it literally. I think he simply talks about maybe man marking Frenkie. There is no real opportunity for dirty play anymore as there will be a VAR anyway. But if he means physical, I think Frenkie won’t mind, as it will give him opportunities. And we have players who can hold their own in that kind of play.”

It is going to be interesting to see who Koeman will use… He usually sticks to the core he has. As we saw with the squad… A player like Weghorst will have to do a lot, to replace Luuk de Jong. That is part of how Koeman works.

With Donny van de Beek having such a sensational season, a lot of people expect Koeman to replace De Roon with Van de Beek. I am not sure. Playing England will probably mean Ronald will want to make sure the balance is right. I can see Van de Beek starting from the bench, and once we reach the finals vs Portugal, he might decide to use Van de Beek. Portugal will probably play reaction football and we might not need the extra “destroyer” in midfield.

On the other hand, hardworking and dynamic Donny might be the right man to cover the left flank, should Sterling play there. To assist left back Blind.

I think we’ll see Cillesen in goal, De Ligt and Van Dijk centrally in defence. We’ll probably see strong, tall and quick Dumfries on the right and Blind on the left. We might see Donny left on midfield, with Frenkie centrally and Wijnaldum on the right… Upfront, I’m pretty sure Promes will play on the right (more in a controlling role) and Babel and Memphis a bit more forward.

Next post will be about the England game… I do have quite some good stuff awaiting you: interview with Donny, interview with Ten Hag and some more goodness…

Below, the interview with Koeman before the England game we lost, 2 years ago… With some old footage and subtitles..

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