The last international period of 2020 is now over and Netherlands recorded two wins and a credible draw against Spain. Michael Bell takes a look at the main talking points now surrounding the national team heading into the new year.

De Boer enjoying a good start?

I for one was definitely not happy with the choice to appoint De Boer as national team boss, but credit where credit is due, I think he has actually made a good start to his reign.

The defeat to Mexico in the opening game was poor but he has improved since, and draws against Italy and Spain are credible, while they have won the ties with Bosnia & Herzegovina and Poland. The latter victory should have been by a greater margin but he cannot help his players wasting chances.

De Boer has omitted Kevin Strootman from the squad, called up youngsters such as Ryan Gravenberch, and handed starts to the likes of Calvin Stengs and Donyell Malen.

The team is also not as defensive as feared. There is progress under De Boer and lets hope it continues into next year.

Hateboer can’t play at right-back in a four

It is becoming blindingly obvious that Hans Hateboer is not a right-back for the Dutch national team in a 4-3-3.

At Atalanta, Hateboer basically plays in a right midfielder role in a back five, but he struggles badly when asked to play in a back four. Poland exposed badly to score the opening goal, while he provided nothing to the attack.

Denzel Dumfries looked a big improvement when he entered the pitch and should be first choice going forward. De Boer must now look for back-up options elsewhere. Possible Jordan Teze of PSV or Jeremie Frimpong of Celtic.

If Malen works on his finishing he can be Netherlands striker

Donyell Malen put in an impressive performance in the win over Poland, but one thing was missing… a goal.

Malen caused Poland plenty of issues and was direct and full of intent on the wing. However, he missed a great chance to score in the first half with a header.

At this level, Malen has to be more clinical in front of goal, and highlights an issue he has had with PSV recently. Malen gets plenty of chances, but isn’t scoring as many goals as he should so far this season.

If he becomes more clinical between now and next summer then there is no reason he can’t line up at Euro 2020 as the starting forward. He is much more useful than Luuk de Jong.

Midfield spot still up for grabs

Frenkie de Jong and Georginio Wijnaldum are among the first names on the teamsheet for Frank de Boer but the other midfield spot is still up for grabs.

Donny van de Beek and Davy Klaassen both got their chance to impress over the last few games, but neither really took it. Klaassen especially looked slow in the win over Poland.

Marten de Roon has struggled to impress recently, while Kevin Strootman is out of the running.

Ryan Gravenberch could be the one that seizes the opportunity if he can continue to impress for Ajax. He did not get any game time this time around, but he could be the missing link. Then there is Teun Koopmeiners too, who was unlucky to get injured.

What now for Daley Blind?

Daley Blind has been an ever present for Netherlands for years, filling in at left-back, centre-back and in midfield, but the Ajax star’s position is now under real threat.

Owen Wijndal has put himself forward to be the starting left-back for Netherlands after some excellent displays. There is no place for Blind in the midfield, and in the centre of defence he looked really exposed against Poland.

Once Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt return, Blind cannot play in the centre of defence again, so what does De Boer do?

He may choose to use his experience at left-back, but his lack of pace leaves him exposed. Blind may need to get used to a place as a back up on the bench.

Memphis excels in Oranje whatever position

At times he can be frustrating and can fluff some chances, but Memphis Depay is the star of this Netherlands side, whether that is on the wing or through the middle.

He inspired the win over Bosnia and Herzegovina and was crucial in the victory over Poland.

His arrogance and ability to do something unexpected sets Netherlands apart against the smaller nations, and he will be crucial against Austria, Ukraine and North Macedonia when the European Championships gets underway.

Frank de Boer should give permission for Memphis to have a free role and watch him excel.




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