Josh Mol lists the 12 observations/opinions that he took away from Netherlands 3-1 European Championship qualification victory over Kazakhstan Friday night.

  • By Josh Mol
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ned kazak

  1. It was great to see Ibrahim Afellay once again represent the Oranje. Afellay has always possessed a great deal of talent and many viewed him as a key member of the Netherlands squad moving forward. Afellay suffered numerous injuries over the previous several years and many began to doubt if he would ever again be seen on the pitch for the Oranje.  Afellay starting was a welcome sighting and his play proved that he once again belonged.  Afellay seemed to gain confidence as the game progressed and ultimately was responsible for the goal that gave the Netherlands the lead.  This goal was the first International goal for Afellay since June of 2012 when he scored two goals in an International Friendly vs. Northern Ireland.
  2. The creativity and elusiveness of Arjen Robben was missed. Robben is viewed by many as the most indispensable player on the Netherlands squad. Kazakhstan played extremely defensively minded and allowed very little space for the Netherlands offensive players to operate.  This scheme limited the offensive ability of many of the Dutch players and the offense became stagnant.  It was the clever dribbling and elusiveness of Robben that created the majority of the early offensive movement.  In the first half Robben would routinely operate in the middle of the pitch to be the most effective and help facilitate movement.  Robben’s movement in the middle of the pitch also opened up additional room up the right flank for Gregory van der Wiel to operate and make runs.  Robben came close to scoring on numerous occasions and although he did not find a place on the score sheet his impact was undeniable.
  3. Another Costly error by Bruno Martins Indi. Martins Indi has established himself as a key member of the Netherlands, but his costly errors and mental lapses are concerning.  In the International Friendly vs. Italy last month Martins Indi made a costly error which saw Martins Indi receive a red card and Italy awarded with a Penalty Kick.  In this game Martins Indi did a poor job marking Renat Abdulin during an early first half corner kick which lead to the Netherlands conceding a goal.  If Martins Indi’s struggles continue Hiddink may look to partner Stefan de Vrij with Joël Veltman, Jeffrey Bruma, or Ron Vlaar once he returns to fitness.
  4. Georginio Wijnaldum’s pace and versatility was missed in the first half. Ibrahim Afellay had a good performance and illustrated his effectiveness by his well placed through balls and the goal which gave the Netherlands the lead, but he does lack the athleticism and motor of Wijnaldum. In the first half the Netherlands offense was stagnant and there was very little forward movement.  The Kazakhstan defense did everything they could to limit the effectiveness of Robben and loaded the box every time Persie looked for space to operate.  The Netherlands could have benefited from having an additional player with the necessary skill set to make well timed runs in the middle and take some defensive pressure off of Persie.
  5. Jeremain Lens did little to prove he deserves a starting spot once Memphis Depay returns to fitness. There were many times where Lens was able to dribble past his man, but he was unable to be effective in those circumstances.  Lens had no difficulty finding space up the left flank, but ultimately he did not pose much of a threat to the opposing defense and was unable to send any serviceable crosses.  Lens also seemed to fade as the game progressed.  Overall it was not a poor performance, but certainly not a performance that should convince Hiddink to leave Depay on the bench once he is healthy.
  6. Nigel de Jong was not necessary for this game. This is not meant to belittle the performance of de Jong, but rather the insignificance of his role in a game such as this.  De Jong has proven his effectiveness many times in the role of enforcer, but against teams with minimal offensive talent his skill set is mostly unnecessary.  De Jong is defensively gifted, but he is far less effective moving forward.  In a game such as this where the other team lacks top tier offensive talent and is taking a defensive approach I believe a more versatile midfielder would be better suited.  The Netherlands offense was stagnant in the first half and if the Netherlands had an additional midfielder that could push forward and make runs I believe the offensive would have been much more fluid and effective.  The midfield trio of Sneijder, Afellay, and Wijnaldum likely would have yielded greater offensive output without leaving the defense exposed.
  7. Gregory van der Wiel played well in his return to the Netherlands starting lineup. Van der Wiel missed the World Cup due to injury and had not been in top form for his club last year.  Daryl Janmaat became the first choice at Right Back under Louis van Gaal and seemed ready to maintain his starting position, but a costly error vs. Czech Republic and an untimely injury to Janmaat opened the door for van der Wiel to make a case that he deserves to once again be the starting Right Back.  In the first half van der Wiel was very aggressive and provided effective offensive support up the right flank.  Van der Wiel was less active in the second half, but still played an effective role in his return to the starting lineup.  Van der Wiel had to handle minimal defensive duties in this game so it is hard to accurately judge his overall quality for the Oranje, but if he continues his effective play he could once again be seen as a first team selection.
  8. An overall disappointing display for Daley Blind. Blind was stuck playing at Left Back and not in his preferred role in the midfield.  Blind was not as active and effective up the flank as van der Wiel on the opposite side.  When Blind did offer offensive support he appeared shaky and lacked confidence.  Blind’s passing was subpar and when given the opportunity was not able to make the most of the chances given him.  Blind is unlikely to lose this starting spot as the Left Back, but needs to perform better than he did in this game.
  9. Klaas Huntelaar truly is a super sub. Klaas Huntelaar became widely regarded and referred to as a “super sub” after his performance off the bench vs. Mexico in the World Cup.  His effectiveness off the bench continued as he scored the equalizer and almost added an additional goal later in the game, but was called offside.   Louis van Gaal once said that: “Huntelaar is the world’s best penalty box player.”  Huntelaar once again proved his effectiveness in the box and his presence in the middle gave van Persie the ability to roam and find open spaces.
  10. Tension between Robin van Persie and Klaas Huntelaar is unacceptable. It’s no secret that van Persie and Huntelaar do not like one another, but it is important for them to not let their distaste for one another to negatively impact the team.  Robin van Persie is the captain of the team and since he is in a leadership role it is his responsibility to minimize any potential problems within the team especially when he is involved.  There are very few world class centre strikers in the world and the Netherlands has two of them.  This game showcased how effective these players can be while playing together.  If the Netherlands ever finds itself in desperate need of a goal their ability to field a front line that consists of Depay, van Persie, Huntelaar, and Robben could give any defense nightmares.  Robin van Persie is the all time leading goal scorer for the Netherlands and Huntelaar will likely retire as second on that list.  The Netherlands has two of the most prolific goal scorers in their history on this team and it would be a shame if their egos limited their effectiveness.
  11. Hiddink has tough decisions to make in the midfield. In this game Afellay showcased his ability and proved that he can once again be an effective midfielder for the Netherlands.  Georginio Wijnaldum showcased his ability in the World Cup and showed he has what it takes to be a truly effective box to box midfielder.  In the upcoming months the Netherlands should also once again have a fully healthy Kevin Strootman on their team.  If the Netherlands continue playing with three midfielders then Nigel de Jong, Georginio Wijnaldum, Ibrahim Afellay, Kevin Strootman, and Wesley Sneijder will all be vying for the three starting selections in the midfield.  It is better to have a surplus of talent in a position than a shortage, but the selections could also point towards a chance in tactics.  The Netherlands could keep Nigel de Jong in as the enforcer role or could instead choose to utilize two box to box midfielders such as Strootman and Wijnaldum to pair with Sneijder.
  12. A 3-1 victory vs. Kazakhstan is not good enough. There are some positive notes to take away from this game, but overall this game was not very encouraging.  The Netherlands came away with the 3 points for the European qualification which is what matters, but ultimately it was not a convincing victory.  The Netherlands is ranked 4th in the world and Kazakhstan is currently ranked 127th.  The fact that two of the goals came late in the game after the 127th ranked team was down a player is not something that points to the quality that the Netherlands possesses.   On Monday the Netherlands play a talented Iceland team that currently sits atop their qualification group. A win on Monday would once again put the Netherlands on the right path and they would be building momentum for a team that will soon have Memphis Depay and Kevin Strootman back on their team.

Josh Mol (12 Posts)

My name is Josh. I am an American with Dutch roots. I have always felt a connection with all things Dutch especially Dutch football. I love the strong rich history of total football and am a loyal supporter of the Oranje. My grandfather was from Rotterdam and for that reason I am also a big Feyenoord supporter. I don’t just love the game for its enjoyment factor, but I also love to study the tactical side of the game. I love watching the future generation and see the unproven players reach their potential.