Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam
Tuesday 13th October 2015, 1845 GMT
The Netherlands face an uphill battle to stay in contention for a spot at the European Championship in France next summer, with three points against the Czech Republic needed in conjunction with a Turkey loss at home to Iceland.
After a hugely successful World Cup campaign in Brazil last year under Louis van Gaal, the Dutch have surprisingly crumbled in their qualifying campaign for the 2016 Euros. Danny Blind’s men sit fourth, two points behind third-placed Turkey, and now need a win against the Czech Republic while having to hope Turkey lose at home to Iceland.
Meanwhile, the Czech Republic have already qualified for the tournament proper in France next year, but will probably aim to end their campaign on a high with the chance to finish top of the group still at stake.
Team News and Tactics
Manager Danny Blind will be without goalkeepers Jasper Cillesen and Tim Krul, with the latter being ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate ligament injury — a huge blow to his Premier League team Newcastle United. PSV Eindhoven keeper Jeroen Zoet could start in goal against the Czech Republic on Tuesday, while Southampton shot-stopper Martin Stekelenburg has also been called up as a replacement.
Netherlands will likely stick with the 4-3-3 formation they used in the previous game, with Schalke striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar being flanked from either side by Manchester United star Memphis Depay and Ajax talent Anwar El Ghazi.
Wesley Sneijder, Daley Blind and Georginio Wijnaldum are expected to form the Dutch midfield, with the hosts having to force the issue and win the three points to stand any chance of making it through to the playoff rounds. Although it will need a miracle, the Netherlands need to make sure they win their game, and as such, will need to take the game to the Czech Republic.
Depay has been accused of being predictable with his movement with the ball on the left flank, but the youngster will be crucial for the Netherlands, particularly if the game becomes open and spaces appear between the Czech defence and midfield. The Manchester United winger’s pace and strength mean that he can also beat his man on the outside just as easily as cutting infield, and his devilish crosses into the box could wreak havoc.
Although Sneijder and Blind aren’t the fastest players in the world, both have extremely good passing ability, and they will look to feed the likes of Depay, El Ghazi and Huntelaar. Their success very much depends on how much time and space on the ball they are afforded by the Czech Republic.
Possible line-up (4-3-3): Zoet; Tete, Bruma, Van Dijk, Riedewald; Wijnaldum, Blind, Sneijder; El Ghazi, Huntelaar, Depay
Having suffered a disappointing defeat to Turkey at home in their previous qualifier, Pavel Vrba’s men will look to end their campaign on a high with a high-profile scalp such as the Netherlands. The Dutch have been poor in the qualifiers but are amongst the biggest sides on paper in Europe, and a win for the Czech Republic would be a reinforcement of the quality within the team.
Arsenal FC goalkeeper Petr A?ech is expected to return to the starting line-up after being rested against Turkey, while Vrba will be without midfielder Bo ek DoA?kal, who was suspended after picking up a third yellow card of the campaign against Turkey. Striker David Lafata has been ruled out with a minor injury, meaning forward TomA?A? Necid could get a start up front.
The Czech Republic are likely to continue with their 4-2-3-1 formation, with Josef ural, Milan koda and Ji SkalA?k expected to start in the attacking positions behind the striker. DoA?kal is a big loss given he is their top scorer with four goals, but the return of koda to the starting lineup should offset that somewhat, given he has two goals to his name.
Vrba’s men are under no obligation to get a positive result from the game, and will look to counter-attack the Dutch — particularly exploiting the lack of pace in the midfield of Sneijder and Blind. However, the visitors will also have to be extremely wary of the threat posed by Depay, and would do well to follow the blueprint of other sides and double-mark him to try and reduce his influence on the game.
Possible line-up (4-2-3-1): A?ech; Kade A?bek, SuchA?, ProchA?zka, LimberskA?; PlaA?il, Pavelka; ural, koda, SkalA?k; Necid
- The Czech Republic have let in 12 goals in 9 games in their qualifying campaign, which is more than any other side that has already sealed qualification has conceded.
- The Netherlands have scored 17 goals in their last 7 home matches — an average of more than 2 per game.
- The Czech Republic’s last visit to the Netherlands was in 2004, with the Dutch winning 2-0.
- In the previous 10 meetings between the countries, Netherlands have only won three times.
- Czech Republic have scored 11 goals in their last 6 matches away from home.
Player to watch
The Schalke striker is the hosts’ leading goalscorer in the qualifying campaign with four goals to his name, and will be looking to add to that tally when the Netherlands take on Czech Republic on Tuesday.
Huntelaar is known for his innate ability to be in the right place at the right time in the penalty area, and his poaching skills could come in handy if the Czech Republic choose to adopt a more cautious approach and defend deep in their own half. With three points crucial to Netherlands’ hopes, the 32-year-old will likely play a big role for Danny Blind’s men.
Netherlands 2 – 1 Czech Republic
The Dutch will probably bow out at the qualification stage, but will want to give themselves every chance of going through by scoring early and increasing the pressure on Turkey, who host Iceland in their final fixture, needing just a draw. The determination to get a favourable result and the difference in motivation levels between the two sides should see Danny Blind’s men come out on top in what is likely to be a close game.
Blast from the past