Category: Uncategorized

Oranje licking wounds preparing for Spain

As per usual, I found myself in decent company. Both Dutch football gurus Van Hanegem and Cruyff lamented Hiddink’s line up choices after the game vs Turkey. Both legends of the game and former success coaches felt the midfield set up was wanting, with the slower build up in the hands feet of Nigel de Jong and Martins Indi while Afellay was out of place as right winger and Wijnaldum got choked up in the masses around the Turkey box.

You need quick feet, decisive passing and good running patterns to break down a team like Turkey. Clasie has that in spades. Klaassen offers you the penetration options and with Promes and Narsingh you have real right wingers…so why not use them? Van Hanegem went a step further and implied that in his line up Blind would have started on the bench, with Willems on the left back spot. “Willems has the best left foot in Dutch football, so if you want to service Huntelaar, you’d want to use him.” Both Cruyff and De Kromme felt that too many passes went from defence (Martins Indi) to De Jong (midfield) and back. “If you play like this, the player in midfield is always with his back to the opponent’s box. What can he do? He needs to get the ball in his feet while facing the goal. The way to do this is to play the ball to the forwards, who pass it back into the feet of the penetrating midfielders. Martins Indi and De Jong won’t play those passes.”


Klaassen and Janmaat

Cruyff also mentioned Klaassen in particular, who – in JC’s vision – has the right skills and positionings smarts the team needs.

Cruyff felt it was a chore to watch the team play.

Now, I have to be frank with you. I wrote my earlier post without having had a chance to see the game. I have now watched the game in its entirety and what I am about to tell you will shock you:

It was NOT that bad.

Yes, Martins Indi and De Jong are not the right guys for the build up. I agree. Like I said, I would have been comfortable to use Veltman instead of Martins Indi or even Daley Blind as center back. I like Willems a lot and would have loved to have played him. And Clasie in place of De Jong. All that is a given.

But despite this, the team was focused, worked well and tried hard to get something happening against a sturdy and tough defending Turkey. We might not have had many open chances but I did count a number of good distance strikes from Sneijder (one free kick that would have been out of reach of the goalie), a pretty decent early chance for Depay, a shooting opportunity for Depay later on in the first 30 minutes…. Then we had that flick by De Vrij, scooped away by the goalie. There was a distance strike from Afellay that deserved better. That weird Narsingh flunked chance and Willems with an inside foot riser. And after the 1-1, Depay even had the opportunity to kill the game for us but missed.


Narsingh should have scored

The team kept the field wide. Dost did what he could to lay off balls. Blind and De Vrij played very decent. And Sneijder took his responsibility. Wijnaldum and Afellay were poor but I blame Hiddink partly for this, as Afellay should not have to play right wing.

In my view, there are two major causes for this performance:

1. The inheritance of the World Cup 2014

Oranje had a dominant leader in the last two years. Van Gaal moulded and fabricated a system and pushed the squad into that mould in weeks on end, before we started the World Cup. In dominant LVG style. After the World Cup, a number of things happened that had a tremendous effect. 1) Van Gaal left and with him the dominant in your face mentality, and 2) Hiddink came… a relaxed grandfather type laissez-fair coach. 3) opponents were/are extra motivated to play us as we were the #3 in the world. 4) Hiddink wants to or was told to go back to a more Dutch style 4-3-3 system and 5) key players were injured at key moments or players were distracted in the early stages of the season due to their moves to bigger clubs ( Porto, Lazio Roma, Man United, Newcastle United).

2. The tactical mistakes of Guus Hiddink

The KNVB decided to hang on to Danny Blind for the future, the LVG adept, but with Guus Hiddink as his mentor. Hiddink, being a totally different coach than Van Gaal (and Blind). Literally, the opposite on the spectrum. And Hiddink was given the task to let Oranje play more “Dutch school”.  So Guus goes 4-3-3 but everyone knows Guus is conservative, so he decided to use a midfielder as winger and destroyer Nigel de Jong as dreh-und-angel punkt as the Germans call it. The pivot. Wrong wrong wrong. You want Huntelaar to get service and you use two wingers who will drift inside and go for glory….


Memphis on the radar of Man United and Man City

This Oranje has been wounded from the first game. There is no real system, no automatisms in the team. The flow is gone as there is no real game plan and the players don’t fit the team tasks. And if you see the look on Blind’s face on the bench next to Hiddink you know enough…. Where is the pleasure, where is the football smarts?

Afellay is not really doing well in Greece. Martins Indi lost his spot in Portugal. Nigel de Jong has a dramatic season with AC Milan…. They are all big names, but the names don’t correspond with form. Why not Veltman? Or even Van Beek? Bazoer? Klaassen? Clasie?

The game against Spain will be an interesting one. If there is one team in the world with a game plan and clarity in how they play it is Spain. And they’re opposing a team that is drifting and swirling. In that game, Del Bosque says his team is not out looking for revenge. He might be truthful: “We just want to play a good game of football.” I do hope Hiddink’s lads are out for revenge though. On themselves. Hiddink has already mentioned he will rest a number of players. And according to the newspapers, we’ll see the likes of Janmaat, Promes, De Guzman and Klaassen come in. Huh?

opstelling spain

Not a midfield I have a lot of faith in, to be honest

What good will that do? I think it is wrong. Against Spain, in a friendly, you need to test your preferred starting line up, or at least your defence. These lads will be tested. Against Turkey, who park the bus, you want quick young feet (Klaassen, Clasie) and against Spain you want a destroyer like Nigel de Jong! Not the other way around? Promes would have been good against Turkey. Against Spain, that might be a bit much for a youngster like him. De Guzman on the holding mid spot is also not what I’d like to see. Use De Guzman on no. 10, but please play Blind as holding mid, Guus, and use Willems as left back.

I would also like to see Vermeer in the goal, or Krul. Time for the goalies to do some rotating.

The Spain game only makes sense if we use it to get better. Just throwing the B-team in front of the train will not do us any good!

I’d like to know what the game plan is against Spain. Win? Win in any way possible? Or play 4-3-3 Dutch style and win? Or practice certain patterns and who cares about the result? Or let young players experience a big game? What is the objective of this game?

Maybe we need to play this guy below as the striker?

guus balt

Bookmark and Share

Oranje can’t rely on Robben….

It’s good to be back! Thanks again, for staying true to your favorite Dutch blog :-).

Starting to feel the jibbers already for the Saturday game!! And after, we’ll take Spain as well of course!

The man who deserved at least one Ballon D’Or. The man who will be remembered as one of Holland’s finest ever. The man who took us single left-footed almost into another World Cup finals….will not be at hand to guide the Orange Lions to victory against the Turks. Robben tore a muscle in his belly and will be out for four weeks. Just fit in time to win the CL with Bayern.

robben injury

The King is injured, love live the King.

The lads need to do it themselves. Sneijder, Hunter and De Jong are the only old guard soldiers and may not both make it in, even. So it will be down to Depay, Wijnaldum, Blind, Clasie, Narsingh to do the job.

depay guus

Depay has been criticised of not showing up in big games. The Ajax game, the two Zenit games…. He did perform ok vs Feyenoord last weekend (scoring one and having a huge opportunity for the equaliser) but needs a big game to shine. I believe in this kid! He does have that specialness that Robben has.

While the Dutch sports press is still focusing on the new coach, appointed or next season, Gio van Bronckhorst, Oranje is preparing for Turkey and Spain. Gio, who started as F pupil at Feyenoord and played in the first team in two periods (start of career and end of career) is proud to be the new Feyenoord coach. His buddy and colleague assistant  coach Jan Paul van Gastel will remain as his sidekick.

Kazim Richards, Feyenoord’s striker, will be part of the Turkey squad in the Arena. The English born Turk has been having a go at the Feyenoord international Jordy Clasie for weeks and Clasie quipped: “We all know he has a big mouth and I want to beat Turkey, so I can shut him up. Don’t want him yapping at me for weeks again!”. Clasie made his debut for Oranje in a game against Turkey under Van Gaal. “That was quite special for me, but at the same time, I didn’t play well. But hey….still a big thing, making your debut for Oranje.”

training players

With the three skippers injured (RVP, Robben and Strootman) Hiddink will fall back on his last big name player Wesley Sneijder to wear the armband. Hiddink, in his typical underrated tone: “I suppose that will work out well, yes? To give the little guy the band? He’ll know what to do?” knowing well that Wes was Van Gaal’s captain of choice when he started Holland’s qualification campaign for Brazil.

Sneijder was quite happy with the armband and his rehabilitation as a key player for Oranje. “I’m now one of the older guys who is being avoided by the young guns for being a nuisance, hahahaha.” The sparkle in his eye showed his excitement. “No one needs to tell us how important this game is. It hurts to see Iceland above us in the table. We will do what we need to do. And as an older player and now skipper, I will take responsibility and chat with the lads individually in the coming days.” Sneijder was in Istanbul when the news broke that both Van Persie and Robben couldn’t play. “They cheered as if there was something to really celebrate. They think they’ll have a chance now. And seriously, they do have a chance. They can play football when they have the ball. So the trick is not to give them possession. Tactically, they tend to be less strong. We need to play our game and not allow them on the ball and simply do what we do well.” Sneijder scored against Turkey in the WC qualification game and had very modest celebrations. “Of course, out of respect for them. I enjoy playing in Turkey. They treat me with the utmost respect and some of the Turkish internationals are my team mates, so I treat them with respect too.” Sneijder has the same number of caps as Frank de Boer and will probably over take him as the most capped field player for Holland, ever. He has 112 caps, with Van der Sar 130. Is that record achievable for Sneijder. “I am not really interested in that right now, but it’s 18 games away I suppose. So if we qualify for the Euros, or WHEN we qualify it will be feasible. But lets focus on winning first and then we’ll see later how that all adds up.”


Bas Dost was one of the key targets for the photo journalists when the players entered the hotel. “Huh? And only because I scored some goals?”, said the down-to-Earth Wolfsburg front man. He said he doesn’t expect to get playing time. “I would be foolish to count on playing. Huntelaar is number one and rightfully so. And I expect the team and Klaas Jan to do really well so I don’t think they’ll need me.” The tall former Heerenveen striker downplayed his amazing run. “Listen, I scored in a number of games. That is my job. When I don’t score for some weeks, people will call me a loser and waste of space again. I keep my feet firmly on the ground.”

Hiddink trained with 24 players on the Katwijk grounds and did his best to conceal what he’ll do with the absence of Vlaar, RVP and Robben. It’s highly likely that he’ll play 4-3-3 with a definite starting spot for Sneijder left in midfield. Clasie or Blind will play centrally and most likely Wijnaldum right in midfield. Depay seems a cert, and Huntelaar impressed against Real Madrid with two goals and will most likely start too. It seems only logical for Narsingh to start in place of Robben.

At the back, Bruma might take Vlaar’s place, with De Vrij the other centre back. Blind will play left back, or Willems will if Blind plays in midfield and Van der Wiel is the most likely right back, although Janmaat is probably on par with the Paris right back.

Gimme your preferred line ups and your prediction for the game!!!


Bookmark and Share

Preview Holland – Mexico: Nachos time!

Couldn’t resist. Plus, it’s my superstition that I have to do this.

So, a short one!

The biggest topic in the run up to this match is the weather. And it might well be a key topic, as the humidity in the North of Brazil is pretty hectic.

As Andrea Pirlo said, there are two World Cups being played in Brazil, one in the North and one in the South. Sadly, we’ll have to deal with it, versus Mexico.

The good thing is that although Mexicans are used to this weather, that most Mexican players play in Europe and will have to get used to the humidity as well.

Van Gaal hopes that the ref will use his privilege to pause for drink breaks as the game will most likely be influenced by these circumstances.

I believe the quality of the bench will determine the end result. And with players like Depay, Lens and Clasie, we should be in pretty good shape :-). Between you and me, I rather not see Huntelaar, as it would mean that we are behind and need to bring our pinchhitter.

Mexico, to me, is a scary opponent, as they sort of combine all what Spain, Chile and Australia have but then combined. They lack the big names Spain has, for sure, but they can play like Chile (and Spain) and have the physical presence of Australia.

I think though, that position by position we are better. Our four big guns (RVP, Robben, Wes and Nigel) are better than any of their players and the rest of our team is not necessarily weaker. The difference lies in the coach, for me.

They have quite a good coach, we have a brilliant coach ( a twat of a man, but a superb coach!).

And that will make the difference, to me!

That, plus the quality we can bring from the bench. I expect another key role in this game for Depay, but I am also disappointed with Fer’s injury. He could have been key yet again. But with Clasie and Huntelaar present as well, we do have options.


Anyway, a short post this time around. Not much to add.

I hope you all enjoy and may I say thanks here to all the punters here who were able to help me out with my request. I hope I can count on most of you out there to get this blog to the World Cup finals as well :-).

I do believe in a 3-0 win, with an early first half goal by none other than Robben and two late goals in the second half, with Sneijder getting on the score board and Wijnaldum scoring as well!

fer lvg

Funny close of this post: at the press conference, Leroy Fer was asked if he could play in the quarter finals. And dead pan, the former Feyenoord man answered: “I am not sure. I only know the coach wants me fit for the finals. He told me he wants to come onto the pitch in the second half as a sub and score the winner with my head.”

Bookmark and Share

Live Blog Australia – Holland

Well good peeps. We are back on air. Last time we did a Live Blog (Spain) we lost the blog for days, so please be patient and don’t hit the refresh button too often :-).

Lets hope we are ready for this!

I am watching this in the middle of the night with some good friends (Aussie supporters) and – in all honesty – not so confident as normal.

Playing Spain will bring the best out of Holland (as did playing Brazil in 2010) but against minions (with all respect) is not always easy for us…

Anyway, join me at this exciting second game of Oranje. If we win: we are through! If we don’t, we are not (yet) :-).

What to expect? The Aussies will not play as arrogant as the Spanish. They will want to take the game to Holland but they will be cautious. It will either be a tough, fast paced game or the Aussies will be too cautious in their approach and Holland might be too smart not to attack like crazy. Which could result in a boring match, where a patient Holland will snatch the 3 points with one or two goals difference.

It seems that Louis van Gaal wants to play with the same team in the same line up. So 5-3-2, is the general expectation.

By the way, the Dutch hockey team was basically humiliated by a very fit and agile Aussie team: 6-1. The Dutch fans fear a similar fit and physically demanding Socceroo team. I am not sure. In hockey, Australia is world class. Not so much in soccer football.


Bookmark and Share