With Peru facing the Netherlands on Thursday afternoon, we spoke to Dutch football data analyst and writer Vincent van Raam about Holland, how they might line up, their player to watch and much more.
Check out the full Q&A below.
What is the general mood surrounding the Dutch national team these days from the fans’ point of view?
There’s been a general mood of worry over the future of the Dutch national side ever since the successful World Cup campaigns in 2010 and 2014. The likes of Arjen Robben, Rafel van der Vaart, Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder have all come to the end of their careers and are mostly past their prime.
The next generation of players simply wasn’t ready to fill the (big) gap of those players, which resulted in poor results. Danny Blind’s appointment was also one doomed to fail and now it’s up to Ronald Koeman to bring back the success and lay a foundation for the future.
People are happy with his appointment, though, as Koeman has always been wanted as the national team manager by many. He has a clear vision, integrates young talent and he has a good reputation. The future looks to be somewhat brighter, but no one believes they could soon relive the moments they had in South Africa back in 2010.
There are a number of promising young players coming through at the moment. Who would you say is the player to watch?
In the upcoming fixture, there’s absolutely one player in particular who deserves an extra eye. It’s Ajax’s highly rated Frenkie de Jong.
The 20-year old midfielder has earned his first ever call-up to the Dutch national side and is expected to make his debut either against Peru or France. He has received a lot of praise at Ajax but it’s now up to him deliver on his hype. He’s been used at Ajax in a “Beckenbauer” role where he would often carry the ball out of the defence, but Koeman has stated that he’s been called up as a midfielder and will only use him there.
The Dutch side have lacked player with his qualities as he’s one who can easily link defence and attacking ability on the ball.
How could Holland line up?
Wesley Sneijder will be in the centre of attention versus Peru. It will be his last game for the Netherlands in a farewell match which he’ll captain. It will also be his 134th appearance in what will be the end of a wonderful international career.
It’s really up in the air who Koeman will choose as his other two centre midfielders. Wijnaldum has done well for Liverpool, Frenkie de Jong is a player the squad is much craving for, but then there’s also Kevin Strootman, Marten de Roon, Davy Pröpper, Donny van de Beek, Tonny Vilhena and Ruud Vormer who can operate there. I could easily see Strootman feature instead of either de Jong or Wijnaldum to give the squad a bit more balance.
How has Holland looked under Ronald Koeman so far?
The Dutch side has struggled to find a suitable striker recently. You can see it in the squad as well with only PSV’s Luuk de Jong being an out-and-out striker.
Koeman has opted for a 5-3-2 with Depay and Promes leading the line. Two tricky wingers who can be useful on the counter with their pace. They still like to play the ball out from the back and then try to get in behind the opposing defence. The full-backs are required to constantly bomb up and down the flanks, providing width when necessary.
Koeman’s results have been mixed, but most people are glad that there’s someone in charge with experience and with a proper vision.
If you’ve seen anything, what’s been the general perception about Peru from the Dutch media?
The Peru match is totally about Sneijder’s farewell match. There hasn’t been much talk about Peru’s team or their strengths, perhaps because Peru is a somewhat unfamiliar team in the eyes of the Dutch public and then there’s also the fact that the Netherlands face France in the Nations League a few days later.
Jefferson Farfán is a familiar name as he played for PSV and some will probably remember André Carrillo and Luis Advíncula from their brilliant World Cup performances, but that will be about it. Most folk were definitely impressed with Peru at the World Cup as they displayed some fine football under Ricardo Gareca.
Sneijder’s farewell match and the more important France game are, however, outweighing that which has caused the media’s attention to Peru itself to be minimal.
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