Sunday, October 25, 2020

Bosnia-Herzegovina 0-0 Netherlands: De Boer draw leaves questions for new boss

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Oct 2020

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Frank de Boer is still waiting for his first goal since taking charge of the Netherlands after his side laboured to a 0-0 Nations League draw with Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Having started his reign with a disappointing 1-0 loss to Mexico in Amsterdam, De Boer – appointed after Ronald Koeman’s departure to take charge at Barcelona – saw the Netherlands dominate possession and territory in Zenica. 

However, they lacked a cutting edge as Bosnia-Herzegovina – knocked out of the Euro 2020 play-offs on penalties by Northern Ireland on Thursday – stood firm to earn a point from the Group A1 clash. 

Luuk de Jong – selected in place of the suspended Memphis Depay – came close to a breakthrough, his downward header forcing a superb save from goalkeeper Ibrahim Sehic, while Ryan Babel spurned a glorious opportunity in added time.

A draw was hardly a surprise, though. Neither team had managed an attempt on target in a first half that saw plenty of intent but a distinct lack of quality, with the action barely improving after the interval. 

Stefan de Vrij wastefully headed wide from an early free-kick, though the defender make an important impact in his own penalty area later on, producing a well-timed challenge to block Amer Gojak’s attempt. 

The Netherlands pinned their opponents in deep for long periods, yet Bosnia-Herzegovina looked the more likely to make a breakthrough as the minutes ticked by.

Edin Dzeko’s introduction from the bench made a difference, his run and square pass allowing Miralem Pjanic to take aim with a firm drive that finally forced goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen into a save in the 69th minute.

At the other end, Sehic reacted smartly to prevent Frenkie de Jong’s effort, then showed great agility to keep out namesake Luuk from the resulting corner.

The home keeper should have been beaten in the closing stages, though, when a loose ball fell kindly to Babel in the area, only for the substitute to rather sum up the performance by wastefully shooting wide.

 

What does it mean? Frank assessment over scoring issues 

A lack of goals will be a concern for De Boer; he becomes the third Netherlands coach not to see the Oranje score in his first two games at the helm, after Danny Blind and Guus Hiddink. 

Having lost out in the inaugural Nations League final to Portugal, the Netherlands will need to improve – and quickly – if they are to go so far in the second edition of the UEFA tournament. Having had 69 per cent of possession, they should have done better.

Dzeko shows his worth 

Having played 120 minutes against Northern Ireland, Dzeko was understandably spared from starting again. Still, the striker showed his worth during a lively cameo, including laying on the solitary on-target attempt Bosnia-Herzegovina managed in a largely defensive display. 

No Dutch delight for De Jong 

Luuk de Jong was not able to fully capitalise on the opportunity presented to him with Depay absent. The Sevilla forward had just 31 total touches and saw Sehic dive to keep out his solitary attempt during proceedings. 

What’s next? 

The Netherlands have a trip to Italy – who won the reverse fixture on Dutch soil in the competition – to come on Wednesday, that game taking place at the same time Bosnia-Herzegovina tackle Poland in Wroclaw.

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