Tag: Romania

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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What can Oranje expect from Romania?

I’m sure we all remember the last Euros? We were headed towards the finals, we “only” had to deal with the Czechs and Denmark, right? Will Romania our Czechia this time around?

Lets look at this strong collective from Eastern Europe.

Team Manager Iordanescu Junior sums it up: working hard, is the secret. Players are supposed to give it all. Make dirty yards. Put the body on the line. Go with your man. Etc etc.

Defensively, this resulted in some solid blocking They only conceded 25 goals in 27 matches. Not bad, considering Koeman conceded 20 goals in 17 international matches.

Romania plays in a 4-1-4-1 formation and tries to keep 10 man behind the ball. Dragus is their lone striker. Romania keeps the spaces tight and their tactical discipline and their physical strength results in them being tough to beat.

The 4-1-4-1 in action (yellow = Romania)

No high press, but playing compact and drop deep to protect the box. The only time they do press high is when the opponent has a goal kick to take, for instance. When the opponent demonstrates enough skill to play out from the press, the Romanians will take the hint and sit deeper.

Romania will – like Austria – tend to push the ball to the flanks, when the opponent is in possession but they will not hunt like rabid dogs. Just contain the opponent, seems to be the mantra. They like to slow the pace down and force the opponent in their pace.

When the opponent hits high crosses into the box, Romania will deal with it. They have tall defenders and good headers. Do we attack with our wingbacks or full backs? No worries, their wingers will track back. Disciplined as they are.

If we start to play slow passes square, we are doing exactly what they want.

Lots of space for speedy runners like Frimpong or Xavi

The trick is to play balls in behind and pinpoint through balls into feet. Runs in behind will be crucial against them and as they won’t pressure the ball dramatically, players like Veerman or Blind or Ake will have time to pick the pass.

Their controlling midfielder can be overpopulated by pushing a man extra up into midfield (Geertruida? Ake?) which means we can suffocate Romania and squeeze the life out of them.

If not, they will try to suss us to sleep by playing a slow pace, chess game.

Their only striker Dragus is a hand full though. He’s tall, quick, strong and he can dribble. We will need to have our rest-defence down pat, as they will find space and time to counter attack.

Romania will try to go for the long diagonal ball and send a forward after it in space. Second ball battles, they love as well! When they do have possession high up the field, they will push 3 more players towards it to play their short game and manoeuvre themselves towards the goal.

Here you can see the diagonal ball to the corner…

Romania is unique in this way, as most nations try to combine with short passes through the centre, these days (Spain, England, Germany). We’ll need to be ready for some long balls and second ball battles.

Romania also shoots from distance a lot. They can be opportunistic when close to the opponents box. The weakness in passing is their goalie, who doesn’t have the technique modern goalies have. When pressed he will frequenly yank the ball forward and mishit it and put it out of play.

In an attacking sense, their corner kicks – taking short and swift – can be dangerous. On the other hand, they are vulnerable on the transition as their centre back prefer to stick close to the box and aren’t as agile as they should be. Their left flank is usually quite open.

You can see two attackers high and wide on the pitch, stretching the rest defence

In short, Romania doesn’t have super stars in the team but they do have a good team! Oranje needs to play with urgency and intent. Romania is risk averse and will wait compactly on mistakes by us.

I would suggest a line up with Frimpong and Gakpo on the flanks, and Simons and Memphis centrally in attack.

I’d play Geertruida as right back as he can come into the midfield. I’d also prefer De Ligt against their attackers. De Ligt is also a good cross passer and long ball passer. For midfield, Veerman and Reijnders or Schouten. Should Veerman not be up to it, Daley Blind in midfield will be an option.

I predict a 3-0 win, with Memphis, Xavi and Gakpo on the score-sheet.


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Oranje: Romania ends an era….

The picture above tells the story of Dick’s last tenure for Oranje.

Here are the key news items for the Romania game.

No one cares

It’s away, versus Romania

We will field 11 players

Rekik went home, sick.

Mathijs de Ligt plays.

Propper is fit.

Berghuis probably starts.

So does Veltman.

Let’s get it over with.

Sweden beat Italy

babyl memphis

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LVG keeps on making progress with Oranje

The title young Oranje will confuse a bit, so I decided to leave the “young’ out of the title but despite my criticism on LVG, one has to admit that less than 12 months after the Euro 2012 debacle, we have a renewed, rejuvenated and exciting Oranje!

Against Estonia, we didn’t play great for a long spell but didn’t give anything away and scored three goals in an improved second half.

Against Romania, Oranje had flashes of brilliance again and Oranje clearly had its gloss back. Oranje’s best performance under Van Gaal.

Four goals and nothing conceded, nothing given away.

And one has to say: with a new young goalie (with Krul and Vorm and Stekelenburg all available as well) and a new, young but highly talented back four.

Blind, Janmaat, De Vrij and Martins Indi. Add Van Aanholt, Willems, Pieters, Buttner, Bruma, Van Rhijn and Van der Wiel to the mix and we have quite a nice little group to work with for defence.

And with Janmaat and Blind, we also have two players (like Willems, Van Aanholt, Buttner by the way) who can contribute massively in offence.

Janmaat was essential against Estonia and pretty impressive against Romania again. Playing with the confidence of a veteran.

Our midfield is improving too. The mediocre De Guzman and Strootman played a good match against Romania and it must be sweet for Van Gaal to know that whenever he brings Clasie, Maher or Fer, this team will not lose any quality.

Van der Vaart showed enough class to warrant a spot in the squad and his ability to score when we need a goal is something to cherish.

Van Persie and Robben are all class (when in top form or even when they’re not) while Lens is truly an asset whenever he decides to work hard and be focused.

Against Romania, we got the early goal and kept dominating. The 4-0 win was not a surprise, taking the run of play into account. Although we could have had 7 goals if Van Persie and Robben were a tad more sharp in the box and if the linesman wasn’t that eager to use his flag.

And I keep saying: Romania is certainly not a bad side.

So we struggle against teams that park the bus. We know this. Every team does. But we have shown a number of times now, that we can break open their defences if we are patient.

And against teams that leave more space and open up the game, we can play good football and outplay them.

Louis van Gaal must be really pleased.

The team was spirited, worked hard, there was great understanding between most of the lads and they looked like…well….a team.

Raf seems to enjoy his football, as does Robin van Persie. This is another RVP altogether. This is what playing with a number 10 in his back does for him. With Robben, it’s hard to say. His body language and facial expression are hard to read at times, but you read it here first: This team has a shot at the gold in 2014.

This squad, plus Sneijder, Afellay, Huntelaar, Narsingh, Pieters… Pretty strong!

Oranje took the second spot in the world record ranking of national teams without a loss. Mexico (1949-1957) has been overtaken.

Only West Germany is left. They won 16 games in a row in World Cup qualifications from 1969 to 1985. We can equal this record when we win the away game at Estonia and Andorra.

We play Hungary at home still and lastly Turkey away.

Start saving for the 2014 jersey people!!

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Rafa leads the way to 4th victory in campaign

Truth be told, I wasn’t totally happy with LVG’s appointment. There were too many aspects in his past and personality I didn’t like. The dramatic series with Oranje in 2000/2001. The antics as a club coach (where some clubs asked him to leave, despite his quality) and his recent JC backstabbing at Ajax…

But…he is a world class coach. Club coach, I would add to that, but now he is demonstrating to the world that he has learned and developed. He is acting the National Team Manager perfectly. His relationship with the players seems to be great. He has clarity and consistency in selection and players’ choices. He has a good mix of assistants ( Danny Blind, cool & collected; up and coming Pat Kluivert for the fun factor and the passion; Ron Spelbos and Edward Metgod, the silent scouts in the background and then the usual goal keeper coach Frans Hoek and the video analysts he used at AZ and Bayern).

“Am I so dumb or are you so smart?!?!?! Oh…hang on… I got it wrong…”

Stekelenburg, Huntelaar, De Jong, Heitinga….they all have seen and experienced how decisive the man can be and they all seem to be accepting of his authority.

Van Marwijk has taught Dutch players that winning ugly is important and sometimes necessary and now we know what winning is (again), LVG will add the Dutch identity back into the mix. Wingers, one holding mid and attacking football.

Rafael van der Vaart played his 102nd cap against Romania and surpassed Phillip Cocu. Gio van Bronckhorst and Frank de Boer are in his sights now (106 and 112 respectively). “I’d be lying if I said it didn’t matter to me….”, the Man of the Match laughed last week.

Two assists and a goal for Rafael van der Vaart and that swagger that adds so much confidence to the team. And what a team it was. Power, speed and skill on the wings. A world class number 9 (RVP or Klaas Jan), creative midfielders and a destroyer in between and strength and speed at the back. I think we’re getting in real good shape (considering Robben, Sneijder and Krul weren’t even present…).

Heitinga celebrating the 2-0 with Martins Indi

So Romania had to concede 4 as well, like earlier in Budapest when we played Hungary.

And luck is always a factor. The free kick on the bar in the first 5 minutes could have gone in. And the penalty shout for Oranje could have been ignored. And all that jazz… But it went as it went and Oranje took the chances and did the business.

12 points out of 4 games.

I think Europe will be paying attention. I’m sure the football pundits and analysts in Spain, Germany, Italy and Portugal will read the papers and think…hmmmm….. Oranje…. :-).

With rumours that Spurs is following Clasie and our center back BMI scored two out of five, to name two facts, I think it’s clear we will reap more and more excitement around this team.

And with RVP finding the net again and that dream header of Lens, we seemed to be in that flow.

And Van Gaal will do everything to keep that flow going. Until end of June, 2014, I’m sure.

As he said when he was appointed: the World Cup is starting against Turkey.

I think he was right. Let’s keep on winning and only stop doing so when that man Blatter is waiting to give us that trophy.

Raf scores the 3-1 from the spot

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