Tag: Watkins

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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