Ronald Koeman will give a first insight into the direction he wants to go with the Dutch national team on Friday. The national coach announces his provisional selection for the European Championship qualifiers against France and Gibraltar. What surprises can we expect?
Koeman abandons Van Gaal line
Ronald Koeman immediately made it clear that the Orange will play 4-3-3 under him again. He watched the World Cup in Qatar with little pleasure, where a 5-3-2 formation was used under Louis van Gaal. After the elimination in the quarterfinals against Argentina, there was a lot of criticism: the Hollandse School was completely let go. It’s up to Koeman to let it return. VoetbalPrimeur lists the opportunities that can help with this.
Bart Verbruggen intervenes in the goalkeeper debate
The goalkeeper issue has been on the minds for a long time. Louis van Gaal ultimately chose Andries Noppert, Justin Bijlow and Remko Pasveer. It is already clear that a metamorphosis will take place. Noppert and Bijlow are struggling with injuries, while Pasveer is no longer the first choice at Ajax. Jasper Cillessen and Mark Flek will hope for a comeback, but a new name is now knocking on the door: Bart Verbruggen.
Verbruggen made the switch from NAC Breda to Anderlecht in 2020, where his development has been going fast lately. The only twenty-year-old Dutchman pushed captain Hendrik van Crombrugge to the bank, although this is also related to the financial problems at the Belgian club. Nevertheless, Verbruggen is doing very well. He recently took the lead role by turning all penalties in the penalty shootout of the Conference League match against Ludogorets. It is not for nothing that goalkeeping coach Patrick Lodewijks recently spoke to him.
🧤 From Bart Verbruggen’s penalty heroics to Simone Scuffet’s double-save, #UECL keepers had themselves a night! 👊#UECLsaves @UKEnterprise pic.twitter.com/uM8SOWYbiP
— UEFA Europa Conference League (@europacnfleague) February 24, 2023
Feyenoord trio knocks on the door
Lutsharel Geertruida, Quilindschy Hartman and Mats Wieffer are having a strong season with Feyenoord, which is the proud leader of the Eredivisie and is in the eighth finals of the Europa League. The good performance of Arne Slot’s team will also stand out to Koeman.
Geertruida ended up in the center of the back due to Gernot Trauner’s injury and he makes a strong impression there. Slot called him ‘out of the category in terms of build-up in the Eredivisie’. He deserves a spot in the pre-selection of Orange, although the competition is fierce. Matthijs de Ligt, Jurriën Timber and Stefan de Vrij are the main challengers.
After the departure of Tyrell Malacia, Feyenoord felt compelled to get two new left backs with Marcos López and Fredrik Björkan. Ultimately, however, youth product Hartman seized his chance. It is already impossible to imagine the Rotterdam base without him and now an international career for the Netherlands, or possibly Curaçao, is dawning. Malacia of all places is his main competitor, especially now that Daley Blind is getting older. Other options, such as Owen Wijndal and Mitchel Bakker, struggle with form or playtime.
Karim El Ahmadi called it luck in an accident that Feyenoord grabbed Ramiz Zerrouki again in January. Wieffer has become the successor to Fredrik Aursnes. He makes a big impression in the Eredivisie, but it was pointed out that he has not yet been able to show himself at a higher level. It remains to be seen whether Koeman dares to do it with Wieffer.
Kenny Tete ramps up the pressure
The rapid development of Jeremie Frimpong at Bayer Leverkusen is striking at home and abroad. The attacking full-back has already been allowed to participate in the World Cup and should attract the interest of some European top clubs. But secretly another right back is also working on a very strong season with Kenny Tete. He is one of the best tacklers in the Premier League this season. Denzel Dumfries seems sure of his place, but behind it a competitive battle rages. Important detail: Dumfries is missing against France due to a suspension.
New growth on left back
Slowly but surely, new growth also seems to be emerging at left back. Hartman knocks on the door at Feyenoord, but Bjorn Meijer is also doing well. The former player of FC Groningen left for Club Brugge last summer, where he would have played in the spotlight at major clubs from England, Spain and Germany. Just like for Hartman, there are opportunities for Meijer to make it to the Orange squad.
If Koeman looks at the Championship every now and then, he will also see that Ian Maatsen is one of the stars at Burnley. Vincent Kompany’s team is firmly at the top and Maatsen has already scored four times and provided five assists.
Sven Botman, Micky van de Ven and Pascal Struijk fight for recognition
The names of Botman, Van de Ven and Struijk came up frequently in the run-up to the World Cup, but they were unable to enforce a place in the final selection. Botman in particular makes an impression every week at Newcastle United, while Van de Ven and Struijk are also fixed values in a top competition. The biggest problem for the trio: captain Virgil van Dijk and Nathan Aké are the competitors. Only when the latter moves to the left does space appear to be freed up.
Comeback of Jordy Clasie and Georginio Wijnaldum?
With Jordy Clasie and Georginio Wijnaldum, two veterans will cherish hope for a comeback. Clasie had to give up for the World Cup due to minor knee problems, but the 31-year-old midfielder is extremely important to AZ and in this form an excellent candidate for the Orange squad. He is also very suitable for the position next to Frenkie de Jong. He still competes with players like Marten de Roon and Teun Koopmeiners for a spot.
Wijnaldum was not eligible for the World Cup due to a serious injury, but Van Gaal actually put an end to the name of the AS Roma midfielder much earlier. This week he played a full game again for the first time in a long time. Under Koeman, Wijnaldum previously formed a strong tandem with Memphis Depay in the Orange squad.
New midfielders hope for a chance
Tijjani Reijnders is having a particularly strong and consistent season at AZ, where he forms a duo with Clasie on the midriff. A dynamic midfielder, he scores goals and provides assists. Reijnders is a late bloomer, but with his unbridled energy he can be of added value in the Orange selection. Branco van den Boomen, on the other hand, stands out with his insight and kicking technique, with which he regularly makes the difference for Toulouse in Ligue 1. Jerdy Schouten is not an unknown face in the Orange squad, but despite his good performances in Serie A, it is not yet him managed to secure a permanent spot in the selection.
The trio regularly saw Van Gaal tinker with his midfield and will want to provide Koeman with more options. However, they know that this has been the case for players like Joey Veerman and Ryan Gravenberch for some time. And what about Azor Matusiwa, who is seen as one of the best ball conquerors of the competition in France. The choice lord will have to assess whether they are currently of Orange level.
The search for right wingers
Now that the Dutch national team is returning to a 4-3-3 system, Koeman will have to look for wing attackers. It is not for nothing that Van Gaal stated that he leaves the Orange without ‘wingers of the highest level’. This seems to be the case on the left. Cody Gakpo and Arnaut Danjuma play at top English clubs and Noa Lang and Steven Bergwijn are also familiar faces. On the other hand, Koeman will have to make more difficult decisions.
Xavi Simons and Steven Berghuis can of course play hanging on the right, just like Calvin Stengs, who is having a good year at Royal Antwerp FC. If Koeman is looking for more typical wing flashers, Justin Kluivert still has an interesting profile. Donyell Malen can also be an option with his speed. For both, they sometimes show beautiful things, but are not always assured of a basic place.
Players like Crysencio Summerville and Javairo Dilrosun fit in the same vein. It’s not consistent enough yet, but with a whim they can make a difference. Perhaps Koeman will give in to that after all.
Provisional selection announcement
Koeman will announce his provisional selection on Friday at noon. The Netherlands will play against the losing World Cup finalist in the Stade de France on March 24. The meeting with dwarf state Gibraltar is three days later in Rotterdam.
The possible pond from which Ronald Koeman can fish with the Dutch national team:
Keepers: Justin Bijlow*, Jasper Cillessen, Mark Fleks, Andries Noppert*, Bart Verbruggen, Nick Olij
Right backs: Denzel Dumfries, Jeremie Frimpong, Kenny Tete, Devyne Rensch, Rick Karsdorp, Jordan Teze, Hans Hateboer, Milan van Ewijk
Central defenders (right): Matthijs de Ligt, Jurriën Timber, Stefan de Vrij, Lutsharel Geertruida, Danilho Doekhi, Joël Veltman, Perr Schuurs
Central defenders (left): Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Aké, Sven Botman, Micky van de Ven, Pascal Struijk
Left backs: Tyrell Malacia, Daley Blind, Quilindschy Hartman, Bjorn Meijer, Ian Maatsen, Patrick van Aanholt, Mitchel Bakker, Owen Wijndal.
Defensive midfielders: Marten de Roon, Teun Koopmeiners, Jordy Clasie, Jerdy Schouten, Mats Wieffer, Azor Matusiwa
Central midfielders: Frenkie de Jong, Joey Veerman, Ryan Gravenberch, Branco van den Boomen, Kenneth Taylor, Tijjani Reijnders, Quinten Timber*
Attacking midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum, Xavi Simons, Steven Berghuis, Davy Klaassen, Guus Til, Calvin Stengs, Dani de Wit*, Donny van de Beek*
Right wingers: Justin Kluivert, Crysencio Summerville, Javairo Dilrosun
Strikers: Memphis Depay, Wout Weghorst, Luuk de Jong, Donyell Malen, Thijs Dallinga, Brian Brobbey, Vincent Janssen
Left wingers: Cody Gakpo, Arnaut Danjuma, Noa Lang, Steven Bergwijn