‘Debuting in a mangled Orange, should you do that to Wieffer?’
The Dutch team was spared additional dropouts on Friday ahead of the European Championship qualifier against France (8:45 p.m., live at NOS) due to a virus that has been circulating within the squad.
On Thursday morning, five internationals dropped out because they are struggling with a viral infection. There was a possibility that more players would fall ill, but a spokesman for the Orange announced that there are no new cases of illness.
Cody Gakpo, Matthijs de Ligt, Sven Botman, Joey Veerman and Bart Verbruggen were the dropouts on Thursday, while earlier Frenkie de Jong and Steven Bergwijn were also able to cross the line. What kind of lineup will national coach Ronald Koeman come up with?
He will have to make other choices against World Cup finalist France. For example, is Mats Wieffer or Marten de Roon the suitable replacement for Frenkie de Jong in midfield? And will the former king couple Wijnaldum-Depay be reinstated?
Debut Wieffer and Geertruida?
“Orange is going to play in a completely different way, because there almost everything revolves around Frenkie de Jong,” states commentator Arman Avsaroglu in a new episode of the NOS Soccer Podcast. “I think De Roon is going to play, with Wijnaldum and Xavi Simons in midfield.”
“I still think this midfield is really too light for an opponent like France,” Jeroen Grueter responded. “Mats Wieffer could also be an option, but to let him make his debut against France. Although Geertruida is probably going to debut as well. So it could be possible.”
Jeroen Elshoff wonders if you should “do it to” an inexperienced player like Wieffer to let him debut in a “failed team.” “Against the vice-world champion. You can wonder if that is wise,” Elshoff said.
Grueter cites the specter of the dramatic international debut of De Ligt, who was substituted after one half in the lost World Cup qualifier with Bulgaria in March 2017. “This is a similar situation. De Ligt drowned then.”
Avsaroglu believes Wieffer is not the missing puzzle piece for Koeman. “I would still choose De Roon and Wijnaldum in midfield,” he said.
One thing is certain: things are moving incredibly fast for Wieffer. Last season, the Feyenoord midfielder still played with Excelsior in the first division and Friday night he may make his debut as an international.
From Woudestein to Stade de France: the meteoric development of Wieffer
Simons seems certain of a starting debut in Orange due to the absence of Gakpo and Bergwijn. “If you’re talking about players who are currently in top form, you’re talking about him. He brings something extra,” Grueter believes.
According to the commentator, it also plays into the fact that Simons is back in Paris. The PSV striker left Paris Saint-Germain last summer. “He is now eager to show the people in Paris that he has made strides, so he is going to play.”
So might Simons experience his “Frenkie de Jong moment” tonight? “It just might,” Grueter said. De Jong impressed a lot in September 2018 when he made his starting debut in Orange, which also involved an away game against France at the time.
Elshoff is holding back. “You compare because they are both special players. One has proven that by now and then other has yet to prove himself.”