When the Netherlands did not qualify for the European Championships in 2016 after ending fourth of their qualifying group – behind the Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey – enormous modifications had been required.
This was a facet that had completed third on the World Cup simply two years prior, however now completed fourth in a gaggle behind nations they’d ideally have been anticipated to beat with ease.
After Louis van Gaal left his function following the World Cup, the Dutch had a merry-go-round of managers.
Guus Hiddink first tried however resigned a 12 months into his function and his substitute, the inexperienced Danny Blind, did not encourage with failure to qualify for Euro 2016 following.
Dick Advocaat got here in briefly and oversaw the failure to make it to the 2018 World Cup, though that was largely right down to his predecessor’s ineptness.
Recognising the necessity for a large overhaul, the KNVB went for a person lengthy chased and out of labor.
Ronald Koeman took cost of the nationwide staff in February 2018 and has overseen a Dutch revolution.
CHANGES APLENTY UNDER KOEMAN
Essentially the most notable change beneath Koeman is the staff’s fashion.
Hiddink, Blind and Advocaat’s groups had been directionless however Koeman has sought to maintain Dutch traditions of ‘totaalvoetbal’ alive.
Koeman initially experimented with the 3-5-2 formation utilized by Van Gaal on the World Cup however shortly ditched it for a easy 4-3-Three when the Nations League started in September 2018.
A confidence-boosting victory in opposition to World Champions France arrived in November as they dominated possession, moved the ball shortly and maintained a agency construction.
The numbers present a window into the development. His facet rating a median of two.11 targets per sport and concede one and in 11 aggressive fixtures, they’ve averaged 59 per cent possession.
These aggressive fixtures have seen outcomes resembling a 4-2 and 3-Zero success in opposition to Germany in European Championship qualification and the Nations League respectively, the 2-Zero success in opposition to France, a 3-1 win over England within the Nations League semi-final and the come-from-behind 3-1 win over Northern Eire final week.
They’ve proven resilience and they’re rising in confidence.
Koeman has additionally blended youth and expertise whereas changing iconic figures like Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder and transferring duty to the likes of Matthijs de Ligt, Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum.
De Ligt, particularly, has been spectacular. Having led a beautiful Ajax facet final season, he has confirmed his high quality for the nationwide facet as effectively, flourishing with the serving to hand of Van Dijk subsequent to him.
THE RESURGENCE OF MEMPHIS DEPAY
No participant has scored extra targets beneath Koeman’s administration than Depay. When Koeman took over, nevertheless, he was a forgotten man.
He had a bust-up with Robin van Persie in 2015 after which Danny Blind dropped him in 2017, elevating questions on his perspective. Nonetheless, for the reason that ahead’s transfer to Lyon, not selecting him for the nationwide facet has been an inconceivable.
The 25-year-old has scored 11 targets beneath Koeman, six of which have are available in 2019. Along with that, he has additionally supplied eight assists in 2019, turning into the primary Dutch participant within the 21st century to be concerned in 14 or extra targets in a calendar 12 months.
Trendy attackers are dynamic and the evolution of Depay over the previous 12 months is worthy of excessive reward. Since leaving Manchester United, he has tailored effectively to a extra central function bettering vastly in his link-up together with his artistic team-mates.
A giant change has been his willingness to drop deep and create probabilities for teammates, spending a lot of his time in artistic zones across the field and averaging 3.Four key passes per sport.
The ahead has matured effectively on and off the sphere. Gone are the times inconsistent wing-play – he’s now the point of interest of the Dutch assault, main the cost down the center and getting assist from the wings via Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Babel.
His approach and wonderful studying of the sport makes him one of many key parts.
CONTROL AND BALANCE IN MIDFIELD
Each nice Dutch staff has at all times had an ideal midfielder. Whether or not it was Johan Cruyff or Sneijder, the midfield has supplied the X-Issue.
Within the present period, Georginio Wijnaldum is stepping as much as be that spark.
His function for the Dutch largely contrasts his one for Liverpool as he’s tasked with getting excessive up the pitch.
This extra superior function has at all times suited Wijnaldum. In his closing season at PSV Eindhoven in 2014/15, after they gained the Eredivise, he was concerned in 18 targets and 6 assists. The following season at Newcastle he recorded 11 targets and 5 assists.
These have been his two finest particular person seasons from a purpose manufacturing perspective and it’s been replicated at worldwide stage as he each creates and scores, as seen in the newest qualifier in opposition to Belarus, the place he netted twice.
His accomplice in midfield, Frenkie de Jong, has been simply pretty much as good. De Jong hasn’t fairly hit the heights for Barcelona however for the Dutch he dominates, though in Oranje he performs in a extra suited No6 slot versus additional ahead in Blaugrana.
The 22-year-old is essential to the fast-moving transitions that Koeman needs to deploy. Clean as silk on the ball, he can transfer, go and direct play with ease.
These two midfield items are very important, however they’re joined by the hard-working Marten de Roon, one other key element. His defensive work-rate and adherence to Koeman’s urgent system aids De Jong within the double pivot as he does a lot of the soiled work.
A TEAM OF LEADERS
Following the retirements of gamers like Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder and Dirk Kuyt, new leaders needed to emerge.
Whereas Van Dijk dons the armband for the nation, others resembling De Ligt (20), De Jong (22), Depay (26) and Jasper Cillessen (30), have proven nice composure and made the transition between coaches, eras and gamers a lot simpler.
In robust conditions, the staff steps up collectively and reveals the character that’s required to succeed. Collectively, they’re a united bunch hungry to succeed and make it again to a significant match for the primary time for the reason that 2014 World Cup.
We noticed within the Nations League semi-final in opposition to England, the place the staff went into extra-time, held their very own and got here out with a victory while their success in opposition to Germany in a qualifier in September was one other testomony to their character, as they dug deep and got here from behind to win 4-2 in Hamburg.
The management of Van Dijk on the again has completed them wonders and the truth that he has been within the working for prime particular person honours will probably be of nice inspiration.
Having gained each their qualifiers this month, they’re in a robust spot and solely want a draw of their subsequent sport away in opposition to Northern Eire to seal qualification for the European Championships subsequent 12 months.
Ought to they succeed, they are going to be place in Group C, the place they’ll have a good bit of dwelling assist, seeing as that group will probably be shared between the Johan Cruyff Enviornment in Amsterdam and Enviornment Naționala in Bucharest, Romania.
Maarten Wijffels, a journalist for Algemeen Dagblad, not too long ago mentioned of the staff: “Back then it was difficult to find faces for a billboard or poster because the public was fed up with them. Now with Van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Depay, De Jong & De Ligt the public likes the national team again.”
And he’s proper, the Dutch now have a lot to be happy with, and are available subsequent 12 months, a robust efficiency within the Euros – even perhaps going so far as the semi-finals – shouldn’t be a shock.