Gareth Southgate will look to get a clearer idea of his best eleven as England take on Netherlands in an international friendly on Friday at the Amsterdam Arena.
Netherlands have endured a tough time of late, with uncertainty surrounding the managerial spot and a lack of positive results. Ronald Koeman has now taken charge of The Flying Dutchmen, with hopes of rebuilding the team and reinstating their previous stature within world football.
England, on the other hand, have been dominating in recent times. The Three Lions secured qualification into the World Cup and under Gareth Southgate’s tutelage, are finally looking more like a team than a collection of individuals. The manager will still look to give chances to a few players before taking the decision of whom to include on the flight to Russia, if they end up going, with political uncertainty surrounding their participation in the World Cup.
Their last encounter saw Netherlands emerge victorious over England, albeit with a narrow 2-1 scoreline. Ahead of their encounter on Friday at the Amsterdam Arena, we take a closer look at the two teams.
Team News & Tactics
Ronald Koeman has called up several new faces for the current bout of international fixtures. Jasper Cillessen though, is likely to be deployed in goal for Oranje ahead of Jeroen Zoet and Matco Bizot, who has to bide his time and wait for his first senior cap for the nation.
Virgil van Dijk should partner Stefan De Vrij in central defence, with Nathan Ake and Timothy Fosu-Mensah likely to be on either flank. Georginino Wijnaldum and Kevin Strootman are almost guaranteed to start in midfield for Koeman while the last spot is up for grabs.
Tonny Vilhena is likely to get the nod ahead of Davy Propper, Marten De Roon and others.
The wingers pick themselves, with Memphis Depay and Justin Kluivert – two of the most in-form players within the Netherlands setup – set to take their place on the flanks. Depay is likely to be deployed on the left while Kluivert will be looking forward to making his senior debut for the nation from the right wing.
Wout Weghorst could be given the nod ahead of Bas Dost, with the latter not showing much form in front of goal at the international level. The AZ striker would be eager to open his account on his senior debut.
Ronald Koeman likes his team to play possession football to an extent. But, against a Gareth Southgate-led England that have also transitioned towards eye-pleasing football, Netherlands could play on the counter on Friday.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Cillessen; Fosu-Mensah, van Dijk, De Vrij, Ake; Strootman, Vilhena, Wijnaldum; Kluivert, Weghorst, Depay
Gareth Southgate has experimented with a three-man backline in recent matches, but should revert to a back four, with the idea of giving the team and tactics better shape ahead of the World Cup. Joe Hart, Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland have all been underwhelming to an extent, which could see Nick Pope being handed his debut in goal for England.
Kyle Walker and Danny Rose should make up the numbers on either side of central defence. John Stones and Harry Maguire should start at the heart of the defence, with Alfie Mawson and James Tarkowski having to bide their time for their respective senior debuts.
One of the main points of contention will be as to whether Southgate will field a 4-2-3-1 or a 4-3-3 against Netherlands. Given Southgate’s affinity towards attacking football, we should see a 4-3-3 on Friday. But, we expect the manager to try out the 4-2-3-1 formation against Netherlands.
Jack Wilshere has returned to the fold after a long exile and should partner Eric Dier at the base of the 4-2-3-1. Ahead of the duo, Dele Alli is almost certain to start, while the boss should field Jesse Lingard and Raheem Sterling as the other attackers behind the lone striker.
Marcus Rashford has been talked up by Gareth Southgate in recent times and we could see the Manchester United striker start upfront for the Three Lions in the absence of Harry Kane.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Pope; Walker, Stones, Maguire, Rose; Dier, Wilshere; Sterling, Lingard, Alli; Rashford
1. Netherlands have won the last two meetings between the two nations, both by a margin of 1 goal.
2. Interestingly, England have failed to record a win over Netherlands in their last six encounters.
3. The match has always been an entertaining one, with both the teams scoring in all but one of the last six matches.
4. Neither of the two goalscorers in Netherlands’ last win over England have been called up by Ronald Koeman.
Player to Watch
Justin Kluivert (Netherlands)
The player is almost guaranteed to start on the back of some impressive form at club level. The teenager will be keen to follow in his father’s footsteps and be the torchbearer for Netherlands going ahead. The nation has seen a crunch in quality recently, with several old guards retiring, making it the right time for the likes of Kluivert to step up and take charge.
Jack Wilshere (England)
We selected two players to watch here just because they both bear significance to their respective setups, albeit in a slightly different manner. Jack Wilshere has long been hailed as the golden boy for England. Injuries curtailed his influence, but he is finally back within the senior fold.
Gareth Southgate loves his side to play smooth and there aren’t much options at his behest that can act as a smoother operator than the Arsenal midfielder.
Netherlands 2-3 England
This is sure to be a high-scoring friendly, with both sides eager to showcase their attacking pedigree. The form of the individuals is also high going into the game and we should see the likes of Depay, Kluivert, Rashford, Sterling, Alli and Lingard put on a show for the onlookers.
We expect England to edge ahead, with Southgate having a clearer idea of his side while Koeman has only just taken charge of the national setup and is likely to take some time before embedding his identity into the team’s playing style.