It took 13 years for Oranje to win at a Euros again! After 45 minutes, my title for this post was “Everything but the goals” but after 90 minutes, we saw 5 of them. And all beauties too!
With the news that Eriksen will be ok (as a person, maybe not as a football player), things couldn’t be better.
Next time, I would be fine with Oranje just keeping a lock on the backdoor and not allowing the opponent a way back into the game. Because we did end up sitting fairly uncomfortable on the edge of our seat, with Ukraine getting back to 2-2!
But Man of the Match Denzel Dumfries ( a title he’ll have to share with Frenkie and Stefan de Vrij for me) had other ideas. The former Sparta man had never scored for Oranje and decided to start doing it now.
Fun to read all the negative comments now, after this match. I believe Dumfries and De Roon were the biggest targets of the criticasting vinegar pissers :-). I will withhold from being to celebratory about it…
But the facts are the facts.
Frank de Boer realised that Wijndal is not comfortable in the 5-3-2, while Van Aanholt is. He made the switch. Like we hoped he would. He played Daley Blind for 60 minutes, because the Ajax man is not 100% match fit, but we want him to be. After his 3 months angle ligament injury, he needs to be brought back to 100% and this match will have done wonders. Although, he almost didn’t play at all.
Blind: “Christian is a close friend. His family and mine are always in touch. And when I saw what happened, I was almost in shock, plus my own experiences with my heart issues came back too. I couldn’t sleep and felt really down. I almost decided to let this match go… But I’m happy I did play. All the emotions did come out when I was subbed off, and probably also the tension in my body from trying desperately to get fit in time. This match meant a lot.”
Both he and Van Aanholt would get 60 minutes, as both players are still not 100%.
Otherwise, Frank went with his trusted eleven and the performance proved him right.
I personally think Marten de Roon played a super first half. I’m not his biggest fan, but it was clear what his role is in that first 45. He mopped up many a ball in midfield and kept pressure on the Ukraine, with his tough physical challenges. He is also used to cover as RB for when Dumfries is up and away. I think De Roon was fine!
Dumfries definitely showed he made some progress. His first half was a bit of a mixed bag. Yes, he made use of the space in front of him and was a constant threat, but his finishing in the first half should have been better. As the whole team was a bit toothless in that first half. We should have been 3-0 up at half time. Denzel could have had 2, Wijnaldum could have scored and even Van Aanholt was face to face with the goalie suddenly.
Normally, not taking your chances can result in an upset, but Oranje added a gear in the second half and they really grabbed Ukraine by the neck and suffocated them. The two goals were justified, with a good role for Dumfries, but allowing Ukraine back into it was weak and unnecessary. The subbing of Blind and Van Aanholt was probably part of the cause although Yarmolenko’s shot on goal was really top drawer. No goalie would have stopped that ball. The second goal was a waste. The pressure on Zinchenko wasn’t there, resulting in a De Vrij foul and free kick. And our defending was bad. Weghorst was marking the wrong side and I think De Vrij or any other player should have been attacking that ball earlier.
Still, Oranje fought back and a perfect Ake cross resulted in that Dumfries header. You see, he does know how to head a ball.
I think the performance was quite good overall. Frank de Boer is correct in his comments post-match: “I think the players do understand this 5-3-2 after all” and he is right. They looked good. And sure Ukraine is not Spain or France, but still. It’s a good step forward.
As per usual, Wijnaldum, Memphis and Frenkie de Jong were playing at their usual level. Wijnaldum leading by example. Frenkie relentlessly looking for openings and Memphis a constant threat. He didn’t score or assist today, so that might be poor, considering his usual output, but he played a good game.
Weghorst still has massive debates with the ball at times. His passing, his flicks, his touches, it’s not top level and never will be. But he compensates a lot with his mentality, work ethics and physicality.
I personally think De Vrij played sensational as well, while Timber played as if he has 20 caps to his name. He had some moments in the game where he could have taken a bit more risk, dribbling into midfield, but that will surely come. The future is bright.
I do believe things will only improve from here. This was a massive confidence booster (and three points of course) as the usual vinegar pissing had started already amongst Dutch analysts and “experts”. This win will settle the team. It will further strengthen De Boer’s belief in the system and players like De Roon, Dumfries, Timber and Weghorst will take a lot away from this game.
Daley Blind had another hour of football under his belt and will be back to total fitness when/if we get to the knock-out stages.
Winning your first match is key!
I think Frank will not change much vs Austria, on Thursday, if everyone is fit. He might pick Wijndal instead of Van Aanholt (depends on who plays right wing for Austria I guess) but he won’t change too much, I don’t think. A draw vs Austria and a win over North Macedonia will probably get us top of the group…