Tag: Under 21

Powerhouse Van Ginkel revels in midfield role….

Marco van Ginkel’s parents were present in Israel to watch their son play the first games for Oranje at the EC. Marco’s dad Alex was a pro player for FC Utrecht in the 1980s but he has surpassed his feats by a long stretch by now.

His dad played nine Eredivisie games for Utrecht and three European Cup games, but a serious knee injury put an end to his career. “He scored the equaliser against Hellas Verona,” van Ginkel is proud to reiterate. “But yes, I guess I have surpassed him now.” Van Ginkel already got his hare for the senior Oranje and has now also taken over form Clasie in the starting eleven of the Under 21s.

Powerhouse Van Ginkel was named Man of the Match after the win over Russia. A short interview.
You had a great night against Russia
Van Ginkel: ‘Yes I did and we all did. Scoring 5, winning the three points and going through to the semis.’Was your dad here?

‘He saw the first two yes, with my mum, my inlaws and my girlfriend. He is proud. Well, the whole village is proud I think. My family and friends are all following the tournament. It’s a big thing for them and that is cool. It motivates me even more.’You want to play the last game in this group, against Spain? You don’t want to be rested?
‘I can’t say that, it’s not up to me. And everyone has something, little pains or a knock. And I don’t have to play, per se of course. But I would love to. I don’t have any physical issues, so…. But the team manager gets to decide so I better not talk about it.’

You are the defensive midfielder. With as special task, stopping the offensive midfielder of the opponent.
‘Yep, first Holtby of Germant and then Dzagojev of Russia. And I’m doing well. I am not really  a holding mid but I think I can do this too. I simply make sure I am in his face, continiously. I use my body and when I can I leave him behind and make him chase me. I have that power and my endurance and I know I can get opponents to pull their hair out, hahaha. They won’t be able to get their rhythm and I can then go and do what I am good at.’Van Hanegem says in his column that the coach should use you in the offensive midfielders role.

‘Sure, and I can. That is my position more. But we won twice and it’s not up to me, right? So why change a winning team? THis is a different role for me as I need to defend more, and less opportunity to go deep, but that is how it is.’Although you will always look for the space to go.

‘Yes, that is how I play. Whenever I see the gap, I have the feeling I want to exploit it. This is how I could play that cross to De Jong against Russia.’ 

What should you improve in your game?

‘I tend to be sloppy at times. I lost possession too many times against Russia in a silly way. Those things, I have to let go from my game. I think tactically, I still have a distance to go.’


Wat are you strong points as dynamic midfielder?

‘I think I am the complete package. I am a real box-to-box midfielder. I have power, speed, endurance and I can score a goal or set up a goal. I don’t mind a physical challenge. I can work my ass off and I can play football too.’

Who was or is your role model as a player?

‘That used to be Steve Gerrard. He too is strong in defensive and offensive sense and is always important for the team. Bastian Schweinsteiger is another player I admire.’
So tell me about your new club? Will it be Ajax or Chelsea?

‘Come on! I read those stories too. But for now I am fully focused on the job at hand here.


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Young Oranje coasts to semi finals…

With an empathic win over Russia, Holland has confirmed their status as finals favorite. In the second game of the tournament, Oranje added five goals to their tally of three, but unfortunately could not keep a clean sheet against a weak Russia side.

Cor Pot hadn’t changed his line up for the Russia game. He probably knows best, but playing 3 games in 8 days after a long season might be a good reason to mix things up a bit, I thought. I could have justified bringing Fer for Van Ginkel for instance, or as I said earlier on, Clasie for Strootman or Van Ginkel.

But as the punters here have picked up: Strootman seems to enjoy a protected status and is beyond question.

Russia played a defensive game against Spain earlier on and had to get something out of this one, so we expected Russia to open up a bit and allow for space. That indeed happened, the game was fairly open from the start, although Russia did resort to counter football and slowed the game down to walking pace for long stretches. Oranje played patient game but in my view was still very sloppy in taking advantage of certain moments.

Oranje being sometimes too playful, too intricate and at times not seeing the easy solutions.

It seemed like Russia would be able to reach the break with an even score and memories of the late winner of Spain came to mind for this game.

But in telling style, it was Wijnaldum who broke the deadlock, almost in similar fashion as his goal against Germany.

The winger-who-is-not-a-winger cut inside again, dribbling and spotting the gap before hitting the leather with his powerful right (it was his left against Germany).

wijnaldum scores 2

Wijnaldum lifted, Cor Pot enjoys it…

Wijnaldum was almost invisible the whole period before his goal. He made room for Van Rhijn (who played very good by the way) and had some combinations with Van Ginkel but we saw none of his dribbles on the flank.

Contrary to Ola John who started the game with the spring in his step. John is a natural, as he would prove time and time again in the game. Great first touches, vision in the pass-move dynamics, work rate, good crosses and scoring ability. The real deal.


So a lot when through the middle and over the left flank and mainly in the center of the pitch I felt we disappointed. Maher and De Jong played a tough first half (although De Jong rattled the post with a free header). De Jong is always threatening when the ball is crossed in, but in the combination with Maher and Strootman, he seems lacking.

Maher seems tired. The youngster had a big season with AZ (winning the National Cup) and must be thinking about his future, as Ajax and PSV expect to do battle over him although numerous EPL clubs are now chasing him too.

Maher showed his class in moments. He needs to be more dominant, needs to be the high up the park playmaker for us, but he has never looked the part. This is partly also because he lacks a player behind him capable of playing the one-touch killer pass.

In the second half, the game opened up more for Oranje when the French ref deservedly sent a Russian player off. He slid from behind with his studs up and a stretched leg into Maher achilles… A dangerous tackle, from behind. Ergo: red. It might have looked harsh, but the rules support the ref and we could have had a similar situation as with Italian star Insigne, who had to leave the pitch early against Israel.


Luuk RussiaFinally Luuk gets one…

The same Maher showed he could play on, when he took a Van Rhijn cross on his right on the half-volley turn and hitting a cracker on the cross bar. The whole stadium could hear the goal frame moan and Maher almost had the goal of the tournament. Luck again, for the goalie.

With 10 against 11 it was not a real contest anymore. Or so it seems. Luuk de Jong got his goal after being close a couple of times, on a measured Van Ginkel cross.

Unmarked, he placed the ball diagonally across to the far post, giving the goalie no chance.

Russia, however, stepped up a gear. Being behind and being one man down, they played all or nothing. And got a goal. Another defensive debacle with lots of orange shirts running around but no one marking the man that mattered. Infuriating Cor Pot on the bench who saw a “Germany-scenario” unfold.

But Holland didn’t get a tight arse this time and played itself to another 2 goal cushion when a long Zoet kick got extended by De Jong into the path of Ola John who had not trouble chipping the ball for the 3-1.

With Leroy Fer for Maher, Clasie for Strootman and Hoessen for De Jong, Cor Pot secured the win. A well worked attack involving John again gave Fer the chance to score his second of the tournament, as his buddy Wijnaldum did. Not much later, Fer – with some luck – got the ball to Ajax striker Hoessen who in typical Oranje/Ajax style chipped the goalie again to make it 5-1.

There were certainly chances for more, after Russia gave up but the heat and fatigue coupled with some sloppy play shielded the Russians from a double-digit debacle.

An easy win, in hindsight with a lot of great and not-so-great aspects to it.


There is nothing wrong with 4-3-3 but as Wijnaldum showed in the two games: he is not a right winger. He loves to come inside and allow Van Rhijn the overlap. Playing Van Ginkel as right midfielder sort of blocks Wijnaldum on the right and a couple of times it was clear he had no space to operate in. Playing with a wide winger on the left and a more inside focused player on the right is absolutely fine, but I believe Van Ginkel should make way for Clasie.

In this way, the defensive four have a target always (Clasie) while Wijnaldum can drift into the open space on the right. Van Rhijn hardly ever has a direct opponent at this level, so why not?

game end

Van Ginkel does well, don’t get me wrong. He is active, he works hard, he can penetrate but I feel we need less running and more brains. A one-touch pass right in the feet of a runner (Wijnaldum, Maher, John, Strootman, Van Rhijn), perfectly weighted, is more needed. And currently, we don’t have anyone offering that.

Player dynamics

Mostly good. The left flank is strong. The combinations between Martins Indi, Blind, Strootman, John are solid and John almost always wants to execute the correct decision.

The right flank is a bit sluggish. Wijnaldum needs space to drift. And doesn’t get it.

Maher and De Jong have not forged a romantic relationship yet. Whenever Maher drifts deep to get the ball, you know he is in trouble. And he did so a couple of times in the first half.

Strootman, Van Ginkel and Maher in midfield to me is out of balance. Too much testosteron, not enough brains. (Maher definitely is a smart player of course, but he needs someone behind him who recognises his actions). I believe Maher’s disappointing game is also the result of the players around him. Say no more.

The Defensive four played really strong and these lads should be comfortable as they will play a lot of senior games too.


I think Ola John, Daley Blind and Ricardo van Rhijn were the key players in this game for us. Martins Indi and De Vrij were good, De Vrij atoned for his bad spell against Germany while Luuk de Jong worked hard but was unlucky with his team mates just fumbling the key pass or playing the ball behind him.

Strootman and Van Ginkel put it in a good work shift but at times their passing was too hasty or at times too lacklustre.

Jeroen Zoet didn’t impress me. Again. The second German goal was not unstoppable and he missed a corner against the Russians and had some below par clearances against Russia. He is not yet of the level of Vermeer or Cillisen in my book (let alone Tyton (PSV) or Vorm and Krul (Oranje)).

Cor Pot now has choices to make against Spain. Is he playing the same eleven again (3rd game in 7 days)? Will he risk it? Or is it time to mix it up and use the Dutch Xavi (Clasie) alongside Leroy Fer instead of Strootman and Van Ginkel?

Maher didn’t look fresh when subbed and he might also be on the list to sit one out. Wijnaldum clearly relishes the no. 10 spot and with Jozefzoon (or even Van Ginkel) on the right wing, we will not lose any strength.

If we do beat Spain, we are likely to face off against Norway. A very physical team. Which might be a good reason to rest Van Ginkel and Strootman for a game… We will need at least 16 players to win this one, as Fer, Hoessen, Jozefzoon and Clasie have already demonstrated…

blind pot Daley Blind played a perfect game

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Jong Oranje really wants it…

Only a couple of hours to go and Oranje will start its first game versus Germany at the EC in Israel.

And while the big guns are experiencing Oranje-mania in Indonesia and Sneijder might be on his way to Chelsea, and Babel on his way to Turkey and Stekelenburg signed for Fulham and Robben might be going to Liverpool, and the KLM didn’t get the best mileage out of sponsoring Oranje….

We focus on the Under 21s against Germany at the Israel based EC.

Always a heated game. Always more at stake than just the win.

At the recent press conference in Tel Aviv, skipper Strootman admitted that this Jong Oranje does not have any excuse for a non-performance. “The KNVB has organised this so well. Everything one needs, is arranged. There is no excuse why we wouldn’t perform at our best. And with the players we have, we should do really well here.”

Coach Cor Pot had to chuckle. The German Football Association said that this EC is a great learning experience for the players. “This would have been said by us ten years ago. Now we are the ones saying: developing players is nice, but you also got to teach them to win. For us, the result is highly important. Playing nice, we know we can do. Now we need to win and play nice. Germany has been copying our way of working off late, but they might end up without silverware, as a result.”

Luuk de Jong, playing his football in the Bundesliga, was part of the senior squad in Poland/Ukraine. Is this a step back? “Of course not! This is my youth group. I was a third striker in the senior squad. Here I have a different position. This is a major trophy for all of us. A major way of showing yourself. This is massively important for us!”

Spurs player and German skipper Lewis Holtby has no fear. “I know Holland well. I lived only 20 km from the border and took my bike into Holland a lot. Obviously, I know the players and I know they are strong, but we fear not. We need to be careful in the one-to-one situations, as they are lethal in those situations but we will play our own game. Don’t worry.”

At the press conference, Cor Pot did try to put a lid on the optimism. “We may have 12 A internationals, but for most, that means only two or three friendlies. Most players in the German squad already played heaps of games in the Bundesliga. That means probably more.”

Pot has his line up already but refused to share. He did say this: “I have a creative midfield (Clasie, Maher, Strootman) and a more physical one ( Fer, Van Ginkel, Strootman). For Germany, I have chosen a combination.” As Strootman and Maher seem certainties, it may be that Fer will play in Clasie’s place (but in Strootman’s role).

Who knows.

Jong Oranje hasn’t beaten Jong Germany in 20 years, by the way. In 12 times, Germany won 5 times, Holland only 3. The last game we played against them was two years ago in Sittard. Germany won 1-3. Fer, Clasie, Zoet, Nuytinck and Blind were all part of that team.

Jung Germany is trying to remove the stain of two years back when they failed to qualify. Germany can not use the A internationals like Holland can. Players like Gotze, Draxler, Kroos, Gundogan and Ter Stegen are all not available (injury or called up for senior team trip to US).

Jordy Clasie doesn’t share the optimism with the media and supporters. “Hoho, we are in a very tough group! Germany and Spain are top nations. We might also be, but we still need to play for it.”

Clasie is normally not too comfortable in the heat. The Feyenoord midfielder is happy with the time he was given to get used to the circumstances. “I need to watch the heat. I cramp up easily. I had it in Holland even, in the Vitesse game. I am glad we play in the evenings. In the day, it is simply too hot.”

Clasie will only have three weeks of holiday after this tournament and he is also on Van Gaal’s list to come to the WC in 2014. A new rhythm for the youngster. “At the moment, I am not at all thinking about holidays. I am a pro player. I want to play. It’s that simple. Your career is relatively short and I am so grateful I am where I am. And the expectations are high and that is cool. The pressure is on from minute one. A key game. Losing the first game brings you immediately in trouble. But, despite all that, getting to the finals is not going to be that easy. I know Germany well, they are good, despite not having all their big guns. Spain is obviously strong and Russia is an outsider. I rate Italy high too. It will not be easy to reach the finals.”

Luuk de Jong plays his football with Borussia Monchengladbach and fears losing against Germany. “Simply because they will make me wear a Mannschaft Jersey then… That is not cool… I am so ready to play that game. This has been in the back of my head for a while and the last weeks we prepared so well. Tactical talks, practice, medical preps, nutrition. I think we are ready.”

The striker performed amazingly with Twente and Jong Oranje but his first season in Germany was a stop-start affair. “It wasn’t easy. Some ups and downs. But I think most young players experience this when moving to a new club. I am confident my second season will be better. But for now, I focus on the Germany game.”

He knows his opponents well. “Of course. And they are very good. But so are we. We need to careful in possession, as their turn around is quick. And we want to go full throttle but we need to pick the right moments.”

De Jong’s brother Siem is with LVG and the big squad in Indonesia. Luuk really wants to bring home the silverware, in preparation for a great World Cup campaign with his brother. “It’s time for two brothers in Oranje again”, he winks. “I would be disappointed if we don’t reach the finals, sure. You do need some luck to win this, as always. But it does look great on your resume, doesn’t it? We will definitely give it our all.”

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