World Friendly International
(23 Mar 2018)
Netherlands – England
Match Preview: Gareth Southgate hones his starting XI
There were a few surprises as Gareth Southgate named his 26-man squad for the upcoming friendlies against the Netherlands and Italy. Nick Pope, Alfie Mawson, James Tarkowski and Lewis Cook could all make their international debuts having, with the exception of Pope, surprisingly been called-up. More established figures like Chris Smalling – who is playing regularly for Manchester United – and Michael Keane were left out as the England manager picks players that are both in-form and able to play in the way that he desires.
Recent reports have suggested that Southgate will try out playing with a back three – something he did in last year’s friendly draws against Germany and Brazil – as he tries to make the Three Lions more creative in attack without compromising defensive solidity. This approach will be particularly important in their first two 2018 World Cup matches against Tunisia and Panama – two sides that are likely to sit deep. With Belgium their only major rivals to win Group G, reaching the last-16 should be no problem; even for England.
Trusting untested and young players is something that Netherlands manager Ronald Koeman must now also do. The former Everton boss was sacked earlier this season after a dire start, before taking over his national team. Having failed to qualify for Euro 2016 or the upcoming World Cup, Oranje is in desperate need of a new generation of players to step up. Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, two of the country’s most iconic players in the last decade, have retired from international duty but their replacements are yet to fully convince.
Koeman has named five uncapped players and most exciting of all of them is Justin Kluivert, Patrick’s son, who has been linked with a transfer to Manchester United from Ajax. The lack of experience in the Dutch squad is shown in the fact that no player has scored 10 goals. A good performance and result, though, could boost their confidence ahead of the Euro 2020 qualifiers which begin next year.
Match Preview: Market Offers
There are currently over 60 markets for Friday night’s friendly. England may have a better record internationally in recent years, but Tipbet has the Netherlands at 2.45 to win, compared to their visitors’ 2.90. There are also extensive markets on goalscorers on offer.