UNDER 21 EUROS: Dutch dismay in semi-final elimination

Italy 1 (Borini 79)

Netherlands 0


Italy defeated the Jong Oranje 1-0 on Saturday evening to set up a Under-21 Euro final with defending champions Spain on Tuesday.

A 79th minute winner from Fabio Borini earned the Italians the championship game with Spain, who earlier that evening eliminated Norway 3-0 to reach the final and try to retain their title.

Borini places the ball past Zoet with ease to give Italy a place in the final

The Dutch dominated possession from the off but failed to make that breakthrough past goalkeeper Francesco Bardi. The creativity and the final product was not there, Ola John looked leggy, midfield duo Marco van Ginkel and Adam Maher were non-existent and Luuk de Jong was left alone up top starved of any service.

It was a slow paced first 45 minutes, and both pressuring each other high up the pitch – Italy using the counter attack very well. The Dutch looked more likely to score due to the tremendous possession play and they could have been 1-0 up after just five minutes.

Marco Verratti brought down Georginio Wijnaldum on the edge of the penalty area and Maher took the resulting free-kick and the lucky Bardi was stuck to his line as he watched the ball hit the outside of his left post.

Cor Pot’s men were applying some force and won a string of corners but Bardi was able to deal with them all before the strong Kevin Strootman fired a power shot wide from distance.

Italy could themselves be a goal in front midway through the half if it were not for Jeroen Zoet in goal. Ciro Immobile then brought a save out of goalkeeper, with Zoet stopping his shot with his feet before the sharp Lorenzo Insigne fired wide from 25 yards.

Ajax left-back Daley Blind found himself attacking the edge of the box and he forced Bardi into a smart parry as the interval approached and but it was the Italians who should have went into the break a goal to the good.

Liverpool striker Borini collected the ball midway into his own half and continues into the penalty area but could only fire into the side-netting after bearing down on Zoet. The Azzurrini continued to miss several chances to take the lead, with a Manolo Gabbiadini attempt on goal in the 74th minute landing neatly in the arms of Zoet.

As the second half continued it proved to be incredibly cautious as both teams became weary of the either sides attacking threat. The Dutch received a blow when Stefan de Vrij had to be replaced by FC Utrecht powerhouse Mike van der Hoorn on 75 minutes due to a knee injury to the Feyenoord defender.

And unfortunately for Van der Hoorn, his mistake let Italy score the opener. Insigne showed smart feet to beat his man on the edge of the box and played the ball in to Borini who caught Van der Hoorn flat footed. Borini’s next two touches with his right foot gained an advantage on the stranded defender to get on his preferred side and the Liverpool man slotted past Zoet into the far corner.

Holland brought on some much needed attacking threat with Leroy Fer and Memphis Depay and Fer should have equalised in the 89th minute.

Maher delivered a corner and the leaping Fer jumped higher than everyone to connect to the swinging ball but he could only head straight into Bardi’s hands.

It was a disappointing end to Pot’s reign, who decided to step down after this tournament. His team were defeated by a team that they should have swept away with a far superior squad of players with international experience.



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UNDER 21 EUROS: Jong Oranje sinked by Spain

Spain 3 (Alvaro Morata 26, Isco 36, Alvaro 90)

Netherlands 0


Cor Pot rested all eleven players from the emphatic 5-1 win over Russia, as they were defeated 3-0 by tournament favourites Spain.

Julen Lopetegui’s side dominated the match from start to finish, himself resting seven players from The Spanish’s last game, a narrow 1-0 win over Germany.

Defender Mike van der Hoorn tries to keep Alvaro Morata at bay

With their place in the semi-finals assured, both teams made the changes to their starting line-up, but there was still an array of talent on show. Spain were captained by Barcelona midfielder Thiago Alcantara, who was partnered in midfielder by Malaga starlet Isco. Real Madrid highly rated prospect Alvaro Morata was starring up top.

For the Dutch, they left the likes of Luuk de Jong and Kevin Strootman on the bench with Feyenoord’s Jordy Clasie, Kelvin Leerdam, Tonny Vilhena and Chelsea’s Patrick van Aanholt all receiving their first start.

From the opening moments, Spain were intent on keeping possession, and Holland intent on pressing their opponents into their own half.

The team in red were getting frustrated and eventually when Morata got a chance to get through on goal, the game had already been stopped for a foul on Pablo Sarabia.

From the resulting free-kick, we had our first chance on 10 minutes when Alcantara tried his luck from 40 yards, but his effort was easily saved by Dutch ‘keeper Marco Bizot.

Lopetegiu’s men began to thread some good moves together and 25 minutes they found themselves ahead. Morata netting his his third goal in three games, but the praise will go to teammate Sarabia, who was extremely unselfish in cutting the ball across the six-yard box to the awaiting Morata.

The Jong Oranje were positive in their reply to going a goal behind, with the fast Florian Jozefzoon making the Spanish defenders looking like old men by gliding past them. Just before half an hour, Memphis Depay lined up a free-kick from way, way out, around 35 yards. Depay smashed it goalwards and it deflected off a couple of players before finding central defender Mike van der Hoorn six yards out, but he could only sidefoot the ball straight at goalkeeper David De Gea.

Ruing that miss the Dutch were two goals down minutes later, Iker Muniain played a pin-point through ball into the stride of playmaker Isco, who showed impeccable composure in lifting the ball over the goalkeeper Bizot from 12 yards. Spain were in total control now.

No changes were made by the Dutch at the break, Cor Pot thinking there might not be much benefit in making any changes to the Netherlands. Why would he really want to risk one of his key players for Saturday’s semi-final in a match they are likely to lose anyway?

Early in the second half, Ignacio Camacho suffered an ankle problem and was subsequently replaced by Asier Illarramendi, the Atletico man could be a doubt for Saturday’s game.

Just before the hour, De Gea saved Spain again and it was a tremendous effort by Depay. In a similar free-kick to the first-half, he lifted it over the wall and onto towatrds goal with tremendous speed. It was a phenomenal shot from the PSV striker, but it was an even better save from De Gea, the ball was struck a from 35 yards out, and just as it appears to be heading for the top corner, De Gea tipped the ball onto the crossbar.

The Dutch were the better side since the interval, but Pot’s side failed to make any of their pressure count, with Depay struggled to nod the ball home from six yards out. Spain had taken their foot off the gas but a great counter-attacking move nearly grabbed them a third on 65 minutes.

It was a fabulous breakaway, Illarramendi sending fellow substitute Alvaro Vasquez clear, but Bizot made a stunning one-handed save to keep the score at 2-0. From the resulting corner, an Illarramendi volley was cleared off the line by a Clasie header.

On 70 minutes, Pot made the only Dutch change of the game with the energetic Adam Maher being brought on forVilhena. Maher made an immediate impact and lifted the side but still failed to find the goal, the AZ man sliced a volley wide from 12 yards.

Minutes later, Maher found space and the ball perfectly for him to blast at goal, De Gea once again saving the Spanish but the ball fell to the quiet Danny Hoesen. The Ajax striker disappointingly made the wrong decision and fired his shot into the ground, the ball fired up and smashed off the crossbar.

In stoppage time, Spain made it three and it was man-of-the-match Sarabia again involved. Breaking down the left-hand side of the penalty area, he fired the ball across goal for Vasquez to score.

The Dutch play Italy on Saturday evening as the Spanish play Norway hours earlier. The bookies are tipping that we will see a replay of this game in the final but it will be a whole different story with two full strength sides. The returning strength of Strootman, the back line intimidation of Bruno Martins Indi and the hold-up play of Luuk de Jong will be battling for that trophy come Saturday.



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UNDER 21 EUROS: Jong Oranje send Russians packing

Netherlands 5 (Wijnaldum 39, de Jong 61, John 69, Hoesen 83, Fer 90+1)

Russia 1 (Cheryshev 65)


The Jong Oranje qualified for last four of the Under-21 European Champions after romping to 5-1 win against ten-man Russia in Jerusalem on Sunday evening.

Throughout the majority of the first half the Russians were showing the same resilience and organisation that frustrated Spain in their first group game. It took Holland 39 minutes before PSV attacking midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum broke the Russian guard.

20130609 - Georginio Wijnaldum
PSV’s Wijnaldum smashes home his second of the tournament

Wijnaldum drove at the opposition defence before rifling hard and low into the bottom corner, the ball taking the slightest deflection off defender Taras Burlak. It was an eye-catching strike and the balance was further shifted in the Cor Pot’s teams favour when Dinamo Moscow defender Nikita Chicherin was shown red soon after half-time.

Russia did show flashes of promise, but Chicherin’s dismissal for a foul on Adam Maher was the first real blow. Holland took full advantage when Borussia Mönchengladbach striker Luuk De Jong sent goalkeeper Nikolai Zabolotni the wrong way in the 61st minute with a clever header from Marco van Ginkel’s probing cross.

The spirit inside the ten-men of Nikolai Pisarev’s side responded four minutes later when playmaker Alan Dzagoev’s header smashed the post and bounced straight into the path of Denis Cheryshev. Pot urged his team forward, the Dutch soon hit back and made it 3-1 when Benfica winger Ola John gambled on De Jong’s flick-on and dinked over the Russian ‘keeper.

A similar finish gave substitute striker Danny Hoesen the fourth goal with his first touch after coming on. Leroy Fer repeated his feat in the first group game against Germany and scored a goal in injury time to send the Russians home. The Dutch need just a point against Spain to finish top of the group thanks to their superior goal difference.



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UNDER 21 EUROS: Dutch down the Germans with late Fer header

Netherlands 3 (Maher 24, Wijnaldum 38, Fer 90+2)

Germany 2 (Rudy 47P, Holtby 81)


After coming back from two goals down, Germany were shocked by a late Leroy Fer header to let the Dutch steal a 3-2 win in a true game of two halves.

Leroy Fer power headers in the winning goal

The Jong Oranje dominated the first half with great possession football and dazzling flowing attacking passing. The Dutch immediately settled into control inside their own half, and pressed forward early on with the impressive Marco Van Ginkel heading just wide from a Ola John whipping cross.

Cor Pot’s men won corner after corner and looked like scoring everytime they ventured forward. The Germans had barely had a shot on goal when Adam Maher fired a shot through Bernd Leno to put the Netherlands in front on 28 minutes.

The AZ playmaker reacted quickest to meet a swiftly-taken corner and decided to try his luck from just inside the penalty area. Germany were caught napping as a central strike seemed to swerve in the air, deceiving Bernd Leno to bounce beyond the diving keeper into the net. Germany had just enjoyed their best spell of the match, but fall behind to their fierce rivals here in Israel.

Just before half time the Dutch doubled their advantage with a great individual goal from the guy who got twenty goals at PSV last season, Georginio Wijnaldum. The winger cut inside and beat two defenders through sheer pace and power to drive towards the penalty area. His powerful strike from 18 yards looked to have been parried by Leno, but his save could only divert the ball just over the line. It was deserved 2-0 lead given the Dutch dominance in the first period.

Just after the kick-off for the second half, the Germans received a lifeline. Already boosted by the arrival of attacking substitute Kevin Volland of Hoffenheim late in the first half, Germany won a penalty after a terrible mistake from Feyenoord’s Stefan de Vrij. Volland pressured De Vrij into losing the ball after the defender dwelt on the ball. Volland’s pass released Tottenham Hotspur man Lewis Holtby, who was fouled by the PSV goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet allowing Sebastian Rudy to slot home the resulting penalty.

It was now a chance for Germany to dominate and they nearly levelled soon after the goal with a tremendous chance for the powerhouse Volland. He was desperately unlucky not to get the equaliser as the Hoffenheim striker quickly took advantage of his new role to make a chance out of nothing. He hit a tremendous curling strike from 20 yards had Zoet beaten with ease, but the dipping drive came back off the woodwork before being cleared by a combination of Zoet and De Vrij. Holland were hanging as the match entered the final third, but Pot’s men let themselves down with some terrible defending on 82 minutes.

The German captain Holtby swept his way long the box, with De Vrij failing to cope with the Spurs midfielder and he smashed a shot past the helpless Zoet. De Vrij was doing himself no favours and Pot may change the defence with the next match against Russia in mind.

It was 2-2 and Germany were back on terms and deservedly so with their second half performance, but the goals were not finished.

Substitute Leroy Fer, whom replaced goalscorer Maher, glided into the penalty area late on to grab what proved to be the winning goal. The Germans thought they had escaped as Tony Jantschke blocked Luuk de Jong’s strong strike behind for a yet another corner. From Van Ginkel’s curling corner found Fer, who powerfully sent a header into the back of the net unmarked and under little pressure. With just over a minute of stoppage time left to play at that stage the goal proved to be decisive as the Dutch topped the table from the opening games of the group.

NETHERLANDS: Zoet, Van Rhijn, De Vrij, Martins Indi, Blind, Strootman, Maher (Fer 82), Van Ginkel, de Jong, John (Depay 82), Wijnaldum (Jozefzoon 68)

GERMANY: Leno, Jantschke, Thesker, Ginter, Sorg, Rudy, Rode (Polter 80), Holtby, Herrmann, Mlapa (Volland 39), Lasogga (Clemens 61)

20130606 - U21Euros - Group B



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UNDER-21 EUROS: Jong Oranje Squad Preview

Here’s Will Burns with his preview of the Jong Oranje squad ready to travel to Israel for the UEFA Under-21 European Championships. Cor Pot’s side begin their campaign on June 6th against a formidable German side.




16. Marco Bizot (FC Groningen)

Bizot will be the number two choice for coach Pot after cementing his place in goal for FC Groningen this past season since his transfer this last summer. A product of the Ajax academy, he has made five appearances so far for Jong Oranje.


23. Nick Marsman (Go Ahead Eagles)

After spending the last season loaned out to promotion winning Go Ahead Eagles where he was a permanent fixture. Will be third choice in the championships.


1. Jeroen Zoet (PSV Eindhoven)

First choice goalkeeper who spent the last two seasons on loan at RKC Waalwijk in which he made 67 appearances. He returns to parent club PSV ready to face off with Polish ‘keeper Przemyslaw Tyton in a fight for the number one shirt. At 6ft 3inches he is commanding in the penalty area and comes out for crosses well and always looks the favourite to get to the ball.




20. Patrick van Aanholt (Chelsea)

A strong and determined left-back recently on loan at Europa League qualifiers Vitesse Arnhem where he picked up one goal in 35 games. Unfortunately for Patrick, with Daley Blind and Bruno Martins Indi in the squad alongside him, he may not find any game time in this tournament, even though his performances in the Eredivisie this season merits it.


5. Daley Blind (Ajax)

A championship winner three years in a row, the 22-year-old has done well at the left-back position in the absence of Nicolai Boilesen since September 2011, and lately admitted in the press that he is becoming comfortable with his role. A sure starter for the tournament, a disclipined player collecting only one yellow card in 40 games in the 2012/13 season.


13. Mike van der Hoorn (FC Utrecht)

The huge 20-year-old central defender has no doubt a big future in the game. A pure powerhouse and a threat from set-pieces, I would not except Van der Hoorn to be still at Utrecht in the foreseeable future. Last month he was linked with Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal with PSV and Ajax also rumoured to be the looking at the imposing youngster. Surely a starter for Pot this summer, the teams playing the Jong Oranje will have to do something special to beat this monster. Van der Hoorn looks a formidable athlete possessing all the qualities needed in a centre-back – speed, strength, a great leap and tremendous positioning. Could be a standout star of the tournament, and with the build and strength we could see him fit right at home in the Premier League.


4. Bruno Martins Indi (Feyenoord)

Already a full-fledged Oranje international defender, the 6ft 1inch Martins Indi is one of the brightest prospects in Dutch football particularly in a position that the Dutch national side have failed to staff effectively in recent tournaments. Strong, fast and composed, he is versatile and can play in the centre of defence or at left-back. However in the left of defence is where his current Feyenoord coach Ronald Koeman sees his future. Great in the air, he is also adept in possession when playing out from the back. The one small flaw is that he needs to work on his defensive positioning, although with time on his side, I am sure this will improve in the future.


14. Bram Nuytinck (Anderlecht)

A veteran to the Jong Oranje side with a total of 21 appearances to date. Another strong central defender, who plys his trade in the Belgian league with Anderlecht, who paid €3m for him from NEC last summer.


2. Ricardo van Rhijn (Ajax)

Ajax’s first-choice right-back who has recently been watched by the scouts from Serie A giants AC Milan. Van Rhijn is naturally a centre-back, yet has looked great at right-back this past season. Contracted to the Dutch champions until 2015, he may look to extend his experience abroad after this upcoming season. Normally the starter for Pot’s team and a leader at the back, who always does well to organise in the penalty area.


3. Stefan de Vrij (Feyenoord)

Made some terrible mistakes towards the end of the season at Feyenoord and will look to bounce back with a strong showing in this tournament.  Heavily linked with a transfer to Everton of the Premier League but that was before manager David Moyes moved onto Manchester United. Recently signed an extension to his contract to stay at De Kuip he looks to stay in Rotterdam for some time to come. An elegant player on the ball with a good sense of positioning and an excellent man-marker but sometimes can be overpowered by a big striker.


12. Kelvin Leerdam (Feyenoord)

Leerdam is another stalwart in the Pot’s Jong Oranje team with 21 appearances although time will tell if he can add to that tally with the talent that surrounds him in the squad. A right-back that can fit in at defensive midfielder if needed, but more likely to be a reserve for Van Rhijn.




6. Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord)

Although small in stature, this young battling midfielder has the heart of a lion. He controls the machine that is Feyenoord, and many have compared his style to Xavi and consequently gaining the nickname of ‘Dutch Xavi’. With tremendous vision, before receiving the ball, Clasie already thinks out his next move as he has the ability to boss any midfield. Leading the Eredivisie in interceptions, he can also prove to be a dangerous threat going forward, rarely losing possession and feeding strikers the killer ball. Like De Vrij, recently extended his contract at Feyenoord, thwarting any rumours he was ready to move to Italy with Fiorentina.


17. Leroy Fer (FC Twente)

Central midfielder signed for Twente last summer after being one of the many products of Feyenoord’s youth academy. In his time in Rotterdam he made well over 100 appearances where he scored 14 goals. Fer has a fearsome physical presence and dynamic box-to-box energy. The reason that Fer may spend most of his time in this upcoming competition on the bench is a testament to the squad that Cor Pot has at his disposal. Look for him to come on when the Dutch have a lead and need a protector in there, because he is the man for the job. A solid player who does the simple things well, with a back catalogue of quality goals and assists aplenty and a career average of a goal every five games.


18. Marco van Ginkel (Vitesse)

Van Ginkel is an adaptable midfielder talented enough to take on both defensive and offensive roles. At Vitesse last season he was often positioned as a defensive midfielder, but his desire leads him to surge forward and assist his attacking partners. He does this quite well, with already 17 goals in 87 appearances; van Ginkel has displayed an impressive feat for a midfielder. Even though still only 19 years old, the midfielder made his international debut on 9th November 2012 against Germany. Marco is a key example of the current midfielder with great pace, strength, and tremendous fitness levels. Due to leave Vitesse is the summer, another player that could end up at Frank de Boer’s Ajax.


10. Adam Maher (AZ)

Looking to move onto to either PSV or Ajax this summer, Maher could well be another superstar in the making. A deep-lying playmaker with great vision, silky dribbling, fast feet, pace, technique alongside with his creativity enables him to produce holes in the oppositions defence. Displayed a tremendous performance in the KNVB Beker final last month scoring a great goal helping AZ lift the cup against a lacklustre PSV. Depending where Pot plays him, he could be a dangerous player in the tournament. The team will benefit more from his precise passing and long-range shooting if played behind the striker, which would work well with Strootman and Clasie behind him.


8. Kevin Strootman (PSV)

What can say about Kevin Strootman? Already a regular in the full Oranje side, a dominator of games against any team he plays. Strong, determined, driven with great technique, he possesses all the physical attributes that you would want from a central midfielder. One thing Pot may be criticised for is if he decides to pigeonhole Strootman into a defensive midfielder role, as he has so much to offer going forward. Linked to Manchester United through last season, he can remind many at Old Trafford of a young Bryan Robson if purchased by the English champions. A future world-class player and maybe a key member in the success of this team and the future of the national side.


19. Tonny Vilhena (Feyenoord)

A quick left footed midfielder, Tonny Vilhena is very balanced in control of the ball with both attacking and defensive qualities. Although small in height, his strength and determination are often underestimated as he will battle for the ball with great drive. For a player aged just 18, he can read the game very well and uses this to his advantage often. A strong shot from his dynamite left boot may take a few goalkeepers unaware in the tournament if he gets to experience some pitch time.


15. Georginio Wijnaldum (PSV)

Skilful player who has enjoyed his last two years at PSV Eindhoven, finding the net 23 times in 65 games. Wijnaldum’s favourite position is the central playmaker role, where he often played in his youth career and where Pot likes to feature him. He was only on the pitch for four minutes when he scored against San Marino for the full Oranje side in a Euro 2012 qualifier. As an attacking midfielder, good movement is so important to your game and he offers that on and off the ball.  Playing in the gap between the oppositions defence and midfield is a key role and for a 21 year old he has really shown he has a player for the future, the near future. Despite having great movement he is a player that is confident to run at players with the ball and isn’t scared of a challenge. Wijnaldum has the ability to terrify defenders with some very important centre forward runs which have resulted in goals. Another guy with a big future on the international stage.




7. Florian Jozefzoon (RKC Waalwijk)

A wide striker that had a so-so time at RKC Waalwijk last season scoring just six goals from 33 starts. A product of Ajax youth system that was purchased by RKC last summer. Can be found on the right-wing turning full-backs inside out and a menace when cutting inside. Has the ability to finish well but may not see much time with such talent ahead of him. 


22. Memphis Depay (PSV)

Speedy small winger Depay has tremendous ball control and constant thorn in the side of a defender. A great finisher, generally composed in the box and very good at helping the build up of play. A strong right foot has proven the PSV attacker an efficient crosser of the ball and good delivery from a free-kick. What has let him down is his attitude at times with past PSV managers Dick Advocaat and Fred Rutten questioning his commitment. Look for Depay to be a hit coming off the bench when the opposition’s defenders are tiring.


11. Ola John (Benfica)

Left footed forward who has enjoyed a great first season in Portugal for Benfica. An explosive striker who will prey on every ball that layed into him, you should find him sitting on the left wing on Pot’s teamsheet come the first game against the Germans on June 6th.


9. Luuk de Jong (Borussia Mönchengladbach)

A clinical finisher that demands the ball to be played through to him as soon as possible. Signing a five-year deal with Borussia Mönchengladbach last summer, his first season has not seen as many highlights as you would have expected. Scoring six times from nineteen appearances, injuries troubled him and he will look at this tournament as an attempt to bounce back and gain fitness for the season ahead. De Jong is more than comfortable on the ball, his movement without it, blessed with electric pace, is aided by instinctive understanding of his surroundings. He draws defenders out of position with clever jinking runs thus creating space for himself and teammates. He will be the focal point in Pot’s attack and if he can find the goalscoring touch he had at Twente he could lead the Dutch to glory.


21. Danny Hoesen (Ajax)

Former Fulham striker, Hoesen was a late call-up replacing the injured PSV striker Jurgen Locadia this past week. He previously scored on his only appearance for the Jong Oranje. A wide player who has progressed at Ajax this last season, scoring three goals from 11 games.



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