The group stage went far from smoothly. And yet the Orangemen still have everything in their own hands at the European Championship in Mönchengladbach. National coach Jeroen Delmée knows that there is still a little more to do to compete for the prizes.  ‘Our level is lower than at the World Cup.’

He has mixed feelings about the three group matches at the European Championship, says Delmée. In the garden of the chic players’ hotel in Venlo, he looks back on the three duels that the Dutch have played. Part of that feeling is based on the first ten minutes against Germany. We were bad at that. On the other hand, it is very neat if you make a total of fourteen against France and Wales. If you look at the semi-final against Belgium, it has to be a bit better. What we have shown so far is not enough to continue.’

And that feeling is not only based on that much-discussed initial phase against Germany, in which the Orange quickly fell behind 2-0. “We also made unnecessary mistakes in other games. Sometimes we wanted to force too much. I’ve seen that much less in the Pro League. We played better in that. Now it was a bit rushed at times, which made it restless and messy.’

Jorrit Croon missed a large part of the hockey summer due to a hand injury. Photo: William Vernes
Jorrit Croon missed a large part of the hockey summer due to a hand injury. Photo: William Vernes

The worst phase under Delmée?

Those peaks and valleys were not entirely a surprise. ‘We had to look for automatisms. Jonas de Geus and Jorrit Croon had injuries in the run-up to this tournament, so we knew we had to take steps. As a collective we have been a bit too variable. What I think is positive is that we gave away few penalty corners. Defensively it still stands. We create enough, the basics are okay. I hope we can take the next step in this. The boys themselves are really working on that.’ 

After that infamous 3-0 against Germany, the Orange as a group looked back at the failed first minutes. Delmée indicates that he was not shocked by the performance of his team. ‘That is only the case if it is structural, which you see. I was bummed about what happened. Also because we were preoccupied with those opportunities from the back line. We had appointed that, we trained on it. If we make several mistakes in such a situation, it will be a goal. If something like this happens three times, then you are not sharp. It is clear that we were not ready for a fight.’

Was it the weakest phase under his leadership? ‘We were punished so hard in such a short time. In Eindhoven we also conceded seven when we played against Australia in the Pro League. It’s about how you react. We did that properly against Wales. But an additional ten to fifteen percent can and must be added. Our overall level is lower than at the World Cup. Then we had more control in the games. Was it less variable.’ 

Jip Janssen was allowed to take nine (out of ten) corners, but did not score in the group stage. Photo: William Vernes
Jip Janssen was allowed to take nine (out of ten) corners, but did not score in the group stage. Photo: William Vernes

The corner that didn’t yield a goal yet

Another pain point from the group stage was the penalty corner. The pressure on specialist Jip Janssen is therefore increasing towards the decisive phase of the tournament. The Orange was allowed to take ten in total, but not a single attempt from the header resulted in a goal. Is that worrisome? We’ll know on Friday. At the World Cup, the corner in the group stage did not go that way either. Teun Beins scored more than Jip in the group stage. Jip then pushed in two in the semi-final against the Belgians. A nice harbinger, right? He is fit, his finger is no longer bothering him. I think the rhythm of the corner should be better. We didn’t declare it properly against Germany twice. Then it is a lot more difficult to push well.’

Olympic champion Belgium, where the Netherlands lost in the semi-final at the World Cup, is of course the ideal opponent to showcase the corner class. “I think they are very good,” says Delmée about the upcoming opponent. “They were very solid in the group stage. I understood that they were a bit shocked about the chances they gave away against England (5-3 win, ed.). After that they were never in any danger. It is a seasoned team, with some very good fresh guys. We’re getting a whole lot out of it. I would rather have met them in the final.’

Is Belgium the favourite, according to Delmée? ‘I don’t know’, says the man from Brabant after a pause for reflection. ‘On the one hand, my gut says ‘yes’. On the other hand, we recently beat them twice in the Pro League. They go through the tournament more consistently. We are growing. The latter growth must exceed the solidity of Belgium. Now it’s really going to happen.’

by Hockey.nl

Like this article?

Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter
Share on Linkdin
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

SanFair Newsletter

The latest on what’s moving world – delivered straight to your inbox
Verified by MonsterInsights