Tag: Zirkee

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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