Work to do for Frank de Boer

De Boer was convinced that his team could play the 5-3-2 system. Most players have played it, some still play it. And it’s not hocus pocus, he said. And of course he is right. Coaches are always right, before the game. But, like JC once said that he never saw a bag of money score a goal, I like to say that I never saw a system score a goal.

It’s all about how the players execute it. And against Scotland – which is not a bad side, people – we saw how a number of our players were not yet ready for Frank’s brain child.

Before the game, Frank said that Frenkie and Gini would not play more than 30 mins. They have had an intense season and are needed in the Euros, so they both got the full warming up and 30 mins game time, to be replaced by Gravenberch and Klaassen. And Jurrien Timber would make his debut vs Scotland, as both Blind and Ake, the left footed options, aren’t match ready yet. So the former Feyenoord talent played his first cap on the right hand side of a 3 man defence, with Dumfries as right wing back.

Krul played between the sticks but the pre-match info gave the name Stekelenburg. De Boer: “I think someone pushed the wrong button and they got the name wrong. Krul plays now, Stekelenburg plays Saturday and I will then decide who will be our goalie. I will probably have to trust my intuition on this one, as they’re both top notch.”

So, De Boer used a similar set up in his 5-3-2 as Van Gaal did in Brazil. Van Gaal used Robben and Van Persie as deep strikers. With Sneijder between them, hanging back a bit. The three central defenders and the two holding mids would press aggressively forcing the opponent to the sides, where the full back would spring the trap.

But, unfortunately, De Boer’s 5-3-2 worked out differently. More later, on that.

Pressure by the Scots resulted in their first goal. For me, Wijndal starts the problems for us. He tends to drop back way too much, allowing the Scots to push up. He basically draws the opponent in. When De Ligt hardly has any options, he tries to play in Memphis, who is dropping back to help out and offer an option. And in this Oranje, there are two players you think you can pass the ball to even when they’re marked: Frenkie and Memphis. But Depay loses out and the next ball is towards Hendry whose shot is too tough for Krul. So we have 4 players making mistakes: Wijndal, De Ligt, Memphis and Krul (the shot was stoppable… Maybe not by Stekelenburg but Edison or Becker or De Gea or Neuer would have stopped it…).

This is less a 5-3-2 problem, but more an individual execution issue.

Wijndal would do this time and time in the first half, but in the second half, De Boer clearly instructed him to stay higher and allow De Ligt space and time to build up.

It wouldn’t take long for Oranje to pounce back. Timber, playing as if he is playing his 30st game in orange, plays a ball with feeling into Wijnaldum who heads it back to Memphis. The former PSV man hits it volley with the left boot and scores a fine goal: 1-1.

The second half is better, as a result of some tweaks in at half time. Weghorst seems to be positioning better and as stated before, Wijndal is playing higher. After an hour, the Scots sub four players and one of the new lads – Nisbet – is found by Robertson, who crosses in from the left. It’s too easy for the Liverpool left back to cross and why De Ligt decides to let his man go is anyone’s guess… He puts his hand up for off-side but it’s never ever off-side. De Ligt tired? Or lazy? Complacent? Wow….

Van Aanholt gets a decent chance on his left, which results in a corner but Oranje is not creating much. With a couple of minutes to go, Depay is pushed to the ground. He takes the free kick himself and curls it with venom around the wall and scores in the corner where the keeper is. But the goalie doesn’t even move: 2-2.

I don’t think we deserved more.

The man with the brace, who saved De Boer’s bacon, said the following after the match: “These are not games we need to win, these are games we need to practice, to learn from.”

So what did we learn?

In individual performances, I think we can be positive about Jurrien Timber and Ryan Gravenberch. The youngsters didn’t seem out of place and never looked like they were young talents struggling to catch on. Sub Steven Berghuis demonstrated his good form and had some threat, at least. And Memphis demonstrated his individual class and worth for the team.

Otherwise, De Roon, De Ligt, De Vrij, not playing at their best. Hopefully keeping their gun powder dry. Dumfries is still a player with great energy and a strong will but limited footbal qualities. Weghorst tried hard, had some moments but also looked lost at times. Like the Turkey away game, Krul looked vulnerable and Owen Wijndal demonstrated he still has a lot to learn in a tactical sense.

From a tactical perspective, I tend to agree with Frank de Boer: the 5-3-2 is a must have system to have under your belt. And it can’t be so different. We still have 2 weeks and 1 friendly to go and I would certainly suggest they keep on working at it. Although, some people think it is not worth it. And sure, it’s tough to play quick and build up fast when playing against a compact playing team. So normally, versus Scotland I would always play 4-3-3 as Frank did in the second part of the second half. De Ligt: “I am not a fan of the 5-3-2. At Juve we play with 4 at the back now and it’s more my style. This time I played on the left and I needed time to get used to it.” Stefan de Vrij was also realistic about the 5-3-2, a system he knows really well and plays week in week out with Inter. “It is not an easy task, in this case we play a new system for the team, but also with players who never played before. Even De Ligt and Timber, both Ajax talents, never played together. It took time and we need to be realistic and assess if we have time enough. It’s up to the coach, of course…”

Skipper Memphis: “This was not our best match, we were sloppy at times. I’m happy we didn’t lose, this is a team we usually should win against, with all due respect. But, we played a new system, I played with Weghorst for the first time like this, so we need some time. When we execute it well, we create space. But yes, we played this game to practice and we want to be able to play like this in the future, so we need to prepare for that.”

it was good to see Virgil van Dijk in de stands, by the way, and at half time he was instructing the Oranje subs…

Ok back to the analysis. This time the tactical side of things.

Like I said, Van Gaal’s 5-3-2 looked quite logical. Two strikers, one central mid and backed by two holding mids and 5 defenders. This is what it looks like.

Frank de Boer’s 5-3-2 looked different. This Oranje plays more like this:

And as a result, De Boer’s 5-3-2 with one holding mid, looks like this on the pitch:

Differences in approach.

Mentioned already above: the position of Owen Wijndal. He comes really deep, as he is used to at AZ but as a result he draws the opponents in and forces Gravenberch and even Depay further back. This makes problems for De Ligt who has to play from under that pressure. This is where the first Scottish goal came from.

In the second half, Wijndal is clearly told to move up higher, allowing space for the defenders, as the Scots are not keen on allowing Wijndal free reign.

Another point of difference is a central defender moving up into midfield. This is the second difference, De Boer wants one of his central defenders to dribble in where possible. We know Daley Blind is very capable doing this and this Scotland game, Timber and De Ligt kept on doing that. The way to cover defensively, is to always keep 2 central defenders back and have the two holding mids guard the space. For the Scottish second goal, this principle was abandoned, as Timber was up in midfield and De Ligt had moved away to the left flank, leaving heaps of space.

The third point of difference is the role of the wide midfielders. In Van Gaal’s Oranje, the wing backs would spring the trap. In De Boer’s system, the wide midfielders (Wijnaldum and De Jong) are the ones putting pressure on their wide defender. This means both Frenkie and Gini will have to run a marathon in order to put pressure on and the distance between our players – our 5 man defence – is way to much for the others to press. And now, we have 5 Oranje defenders, marking two Scottish forwards?

De Boer went back to the trusted 4-3-3 in order to regain dominance and after this failed experiment, it might well be that “the system” gets the blame, but I think it has everything to do with how the system was used.

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  1. I feel we have good quality players, just that they aren’t playing well as a team. At this point, I am not optimistic that FDB can do it. Somehow he can analyse the game well, but can’t translate to actual play.

  2. few changes I would think will help.
    De Light should be playing RCB
    Timber to play RWB
    Blind to play LCB or LWB. If LWB, Ake can play LCB.
    Malen and Depay upfront to add pace. Weghorst to play only as pinch hitter if required.

    1. Good assessment, this is what I would like to see next Sunday against Ukraine:

      Depay – Malen

      F. De Jong – Wijnaldum – Van De Beek

      Blind – Ake – De Vrij – De Ligt – Timber


      Berghuis Weghorst L De Jong as main subs up front

  3. If nothing else, Frank de Boer is terrible with press conferences, to the extent that I am slightly worried about his mental condition.

    So far, he’s confused van den Beek and Klaassen when speaking about van de Beek’s minutes. Then, Stekelenburg was announced as the starting keeper for the Scotland game but Krul came out. Now, he says that Queensy Menig would be his ideal RWB, but he’s probably talking about Promes.

  4. From FootballOranje

    Netherlands U21 XI v Germany: Bijlow, Teze, Malacia, Schuurs, Botman, Harroui, Kadioglu, De Wit, Kluivert, Stengs, Boadu

    Also, Koeman returning to Barcelona.

  5. My opinion about yesterday match:
    1/ Krul with another shaky performance. Can he stop weak shot from outside of the box?
    2/ Dumfries’s end product is very low. He got into the right position, the right play and then his final touch/decision let him down.
    3/ Timber: one of the good players from yesterday match.
    4/ De Vrij: ok, i did not pay attention to him but i don’t remember he played well/bad last match.
    5/ De Ligt: very bad, not comfortable on the left but also make mistakes in both goals.
    6/ Wijndal: the amount of back passes he play is insane. I don’t know the hype about him and why he started in XI. The last few matches I watched, he is clearly out of his depth. He is in good position many times, probably due to the other team know that he is no threat. Then someone play the ball to him, he has ton of space, first he has a clumsy touch to keep the ball down, second he pass it back. I would start Van Aanholt/Blind ahead of him, at least they know what to do.
    7/ De Jong: good
    8/ Wijnaldum: good
    9/ De Roon: ok, but I feel like if we play 5 3 2, why do we need him? You have 3 defenders already?
    10/ Depay: good
    11/ Weghorst: not good, but he might be the victim of this system. Throw in another striker and they will suffer the same fate.
    12/ Berghuis: good, looks dangerous
    13/ Promes: looks good also
    14/ Gravenberch: ok, i saw many hype about him, but i think he offer very little going forward
    15/ Klaassen: looks lost in the game
    16/ De Boer: bad. Playing Weghorst and 0 cross to the box? Terrible press where he does not remember stat and name of his players.

    1. klassen is Great that what great FDB rates..klassen is huge sucess at real madrid and chelsea…
      Berghuis was king of EPL so he came back to eredivise…
      Winjdal is the only king LB we have…he is so good appreciated…
      He should play thats what FDB thinks…

  6. I imagine de Boer will make a bunch of changes for Georgia. I could see Frenkie playing a few minutes again before switching.

    I think Ake will likely start of Timber, just to test. Stekelenburg will start of Krul. de Jong will probably start over Weghost. And I think de Roon may not make the starting line-up either, probably for Klaassen.

  7. Also I really don’t any hope on Frank de boer and oranje. I don’t see anything positive in this team. Berguis, wijnaldum and Dumfries r really bad. And about left back. We have four better left back player than wijndal in Iran. Really sorry for dutch football. For dutch soccer school. What the hell U do in that school.

    1. Faraz, Berghuis and Wijnaldum “really bad”? Right… You are demonstrating that Faraz knows more about football than Koeman, De Boer, Klopp and Advocaat hahahaha

      1. without wingers the team will be useless. the midfield also simply doesn’t have the cutting edge no matter whom you play. its mediocre at best with overrated frenkie who occasionally lives up to expectation you go back and look at the trend of the games NT games. with competitive teams they drag and either end up drawing or losing, they only time they look good is with average teams and this is how its gonna continue.

        the trend in performances and consistency of players always gives the true picture not what coaches think or dont think especially when it comes to NT. they don’t have quality players either and the spine of the team is bulit on few above average players and the rest are medicore at best.

        thinking a player can replicate club form at NT level is one thing but performing it is another. Maarten De Roon is another good example. At Atalanta he a one of their key players in the midfield but come NT his performances has copped alot of criticism. still he continues to be being selected.

      2. Jan, You make it seems like it is a tactical issue and I totally disagree. You have to admit that this generation is suck except for a very few. Majority of these guys are below average. Give me one reason why you think Wijndal should be a starter on this team? What does he bring to his position? Klaassen is physically weak and technically weak. Van De Beek is a bench player at Man U. If Berghuis was good enough he wouldn’t be in the Eredivise by now. Depay is ok. Any tactical decision wouldn’t make any difference. The fact and the matter is this entire generation except for a very few is suck. It is painful to watch these guys play. On top of that Frank DB in many people’s opinion is just an average coach.

        1. “You have to admit that this generation is suck except for a very few”

          your this statements sucks as well. its just the preference of players by coaches which has been major downfall leading to the . they are dragging with players who simply are not technical enough and neither will an asset to the team in future. berghuis, klaassen, Blind, Luuk,Veltman, tete, Van Annholt. wijnaldum question mark as well. its simple what you eat is whats gonna come out na.

          that last three qualifiers (Turkey, Gibraltar, Lativa) was the window for FDB to call up players like danjuma, karsdorp, El Ghazi, Lang, Brobbery, *Veerman. given the technicality of some of this players, this would have injected fresh breath of life and more thrust in the team.

          this culture in Dutch Football of where you play over how you play needs to be sweept away big time.

          1. “has been a major downfall leading to quality rollover of the team as coaches change hands”

          2. Jan, You make it seems like it is a tactical issue and I totally disagree. You have to admit that this generation is suck except for a very few. Majority of these guys are below average. Give me one reason why you think Wijndal should be a starter on this team? What does he bring to his position? Klaassen is physically weak and technically weak. Van De Beek is a bench player at Man U. If Berghuis was good enough he wouldn’t be in the Eredivise by now. Depay is ok. Any tactical decision wouldn’t make any difference. The fact and the matter is this entire generation except for a very few is suck. It is painful to watch these guys play. On top of that Frank DB in many people’s opinion is just an average coach.

          3. Wilson, you have the tendency of bringing a bunch names on this blog but none of them play for any major clubs. If they were that talented why none of them are playing at high level? Those who finally made it outside of the Eredivisie, they either find themselves in a small club or seating on the bench some where like Van De Beek or Klaassen. Justin Klivert have not done shit abroad. Just because a player has one good game does not mean they can be on the NT. I am sure you are one of the people on this blog that brought up Winjdal. I think Karsdorp has his place on this team though. The Netherlands need to go back to the very basic. We used to produce talent. As far as I’m concern, it’s been a while since I’ve seen a real talented Dutch player at the exception of maybe Frenkie De Jong and Van Dick

  8. When I see FDB face I am reminded of Mr Bean. WE LOST against Scotland’s B team, the free kick for Depay was a complete travesty.
    I don’t have much hope for this team, in fact I believe they will have a hard time getting out of the group. This is the weakest team I have seen in a long time and FDB is a complete joke of a coach. In fact it may be best that this team doesn’t go through so FDB will hopefully get sacked. Under him even the players seem so ordinary. What’s worst is that he also is not a good character. He handled Cillessen Covid situation terribly and lied to him. This team is doomed and this idiot will set us back really bad. He has totally sucked out the joy of watching Orange play. I hope he goes out soon , I just can’t bear to watch him in the sidelines. Will probably go down like the worst coach in NT history. Yikes.

  9. If FDB wanted a 532 then He should have selecetd Jtero williams and karsdorp instead of winjdal and Dumbfry…may be thats why he is called joker…Selecting Blind,ake,winjdal and annholt then play PURE rcb DE LIFT AS lcb is nothing SHORT OF A IDIOTIC LUNATIC PERSONALITY…

    1. Jetro after tearing his ACL on loan at Newcastle hasn’t played a single minute since December. he has recovered but has been subject to bench at Eintracht Frankfurt after failure to renew his contract and is a free agent now. how would justify his selection?

      I Have already said this in Blinds case as well, and again it comes down to the FDB’S preference.

      1. Jetro is fit to play infact..yes do lack the game rythem..He was fans favorite at newcastle.(there is reason behind that)..thats not easy…klassen ran way from EPL,
        …Fit Jtero is miles ahead of Winjdal,Annholt…only Blind can compete him as Jetro is not safe LB..ultra offensive LB..Mercurious crosses..incredible speed….THATS WHAT WE NEED NOW…
        I think we made a mistake by not calling Pascal struijk and Botman in the absence of Virgil…if he sticks with 532
        Compared to dumbfry winjdal is decent but lesser player …or just a decen option..
        when u have Luuk as striker ,Jtero williams should be starting thats how couplte works…
        These players has quality…i doubted Promes but his work rate is pheonomenonal…

    Our problem is Full backs they are bleow average .not even average Winjdal,Hatboer,Dumbfry allll

  11. Guys, I understand your frustration and I am frustrated too and that is why I do not write anything here. There are two fundamental problems in the Dutch football: 1. “The Old Boy Club” Syndrome. KNVB brings Dutch coach to lead national team not because this is the best coach but because it is a Dutch coach. FDB shitted in every club that he took over, meanwhile he was appointed as a coach of Oranje. Subsequently, a biased Dutch coach is relying on specific set of players because of personal ties and some other subjective reasons. The second problem is a lack of real stars of international caliber that could lead the team to the glory. If you look at last couple of years, almost zero Dutch players were part of the CL finals and even semi-finals. Although we do not have star players, it still possible to make a good solid team out of what we have. However, not a single Dutch coach of this generation is capable of doing it because of narrow mindedness and attachment to a specific training system. Fish stinks from the head and the head is KNVB and their selected coaches. IMO, we need a foreign coach who will be impartial and unbiased. Otherwise, we will have what we have now: stubborn mediocrity.

    1. You spot on both problems. I don’t understand picking coach just because he is Dutch. We have gone backwards for a few years now, picking ready to retire Hiddink, no experience Blind, failure FDB. I don’t object picking Dutch coach but it has to be decent like Koeman or Bosz. We act like our clubs are still playing CL finals or Europa finals frequently and refuse to adapt to the reality.
      And perhaps this is inline with what jean_venette said above, we need to adapt to reality to produce new talents.

  12. Well, you guys may be right. But lets wait and see what team he fields for the opener against Ukraine, and how the team is playing by the end of the group stage. The team will have had two weeks of a camp together, and FDB will have been able to put his stamp on the team in terms of tactics and selection. It will either work or it won’t. If it doesn’t, no excuses, and turn the page on DeBoer for the WC qualifiers. But lets see the finished product before we bury the team and the coach.

  13. I was thinking we need a driving force at midfield, and be dynamic. Someone who can take the game by the scruff of the neck. think of Van Bommel, Edgar Davids and Sneijder. Currently, the team is too “soft” and “passive” in my opinion.
    Am thinking of either Koopmeiners or Gravenberch to partner Wijnaldum and De Jong in midfield. De Jong to be given a free rein to roam or dictate play with the others to adjust accordingly,
    De Jong’s role should be made more expansive given his qualities on the ball.

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