A 2-2 draw with Scotland on Wednesday earned widespread blowback from players and fans, but the Oranje may yet stick with it at Euro 2020
Ronald de Boer understands the resistance to his brother Frank’s deployment of the 5-3-2 formation with the Netherlands national team, adding that Oranje legend Johan Cruyff “would turn in his grave” if he saw it – but stresses that there is still a place for it on the international stage.
De Boer saw his side held to a 2-2 draw against Scotland in their first warm-up game ahead of Euro 2020, with a late Memphis Depay goal needed to salvage a share of the spoils against Steve Clarke’s side.
Throughout, the Oranje trialed a more defensively minded formation than their traditionalistic 4-3-3. The formation’s shortcomings earned blowback post-match from both players and pundits – but their coach’s sibling can see both the merits and flaws of such a tactic.
What has been said?
“Johan Cruyff would turn over in his grave,” De Boer told De Telegraaf of the formation ahead of the Netherlands’ final warm-up against Georgia.
“But he would also do that [if he saw the] games of Barcelona under Ronald Koeman. While it is still a very attractive system, it is about how you fill it in.
“When you have two very good opponents against you, it is useful to put someone between your two central defenders. Then you always have certainty and you also play offensively.”
The bigger picture
Having missed out on qualification for the 2018 World Cup, De Boer will now lead the Netherlands to their first major tournament since they finished third at the 2014 World Cup.
That gap means that a clutch of generational talent will be competing in their maiden competition for their country – though in a cruel dash of fate, captain Virgil van Dijk will miss out through injury, while goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen is absent following a case of Covid-19.
They will face Ukraine, North Macedonia and Austria in Group C, and are favoured to reach the knockout stages.