Netherlands will face off against South American nation Peru in a friendly, as they kick off their preparations for the UEFA Nations League.

Netherlands will be hoping to revive their fortunes under manager Ronald Koeman ahead of the UEFA Nations League, with a victory over Peru when the two sides meet on Thursday night at the Johan Cruyff Arena.

The Oranje were one of the most high profile absentees in the summer’s 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia having failed to qualify for the first time since 2002. Netherlands come into the game on the back of two 1-1 draws against Slovakia and Italy. And manager Ronald Koeman will be aiming to guide his team back on track, ahead of their UEFA Nations League fixture against France on Sunday.

Peru, on the other hand, having made it to the summer extravaganza in Russia, exited at the group stages after defeats to Denmark and France in their opening two matches. Ricardo Gareca’s side did, however, defeat Australia 2-0 before bowing out of the tournament and the manager will be hoping his team put up a strong display on Thursday.

Team News and Tactics

Netherlands

The friendly on Friday will mark veteran midfielder Wesley Sneijder’s farewell game, as he brings an end to his international career in what will be his 134th appearance. Midfield sensation Frenkie de Jong has been named by Koeman in the 25-man squad, along with a number of familiar faces like Virgil van Dijk, Memphis Depay, Justin Kluivert.

So far in his handful of matches in-charge, the former Everton manager has opted to use a 5-3-2 setup and is likely to stick with the same formation against the South Americans on Thursday.

With Jasper Cillesen recently recovering from a rib injury at Barcelona, Jeroen Zoet could be handed a start between the sticks for the Dutch. Watford’s Daryl Janmaat and Crystal Palace’s Patrick van Aanholt are the most likely contenders for the right-back and left-back slots respectively, after a strong start to their Premier League campaigns.

Virgil van Dijk is a certainty at the heart of the backline, while the other two centre-back spots are set to be taken up by the promising Matthijs de Ligt and Bournemouth ace Nathan Ake.

The manager has already confirmed that Sneijder will be starting the game, leaving only two other vacant spots in the middle of the park. The 21-year old De Jong should be in line to make his debut after an impressive start to the season for Ajax, while Liverpool’s Gini Wijnaldum should take up the third slot.

Upfront, the 19-year old Justin Kluivert is likely to be rewarded with a start by Koeman, alongside the experienced PSV Eindhoven captain Luuk de Jong.

Probable Starting XI (5-3-2): Zoet; Janmaat, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Ake, Van Aanholt; Sneijder, F. de Jong, Wijnaldum; L. de Jong, Kluivert;

Peru

Captain Paolo Guerrero is unavailable once again for the South Americans, after having his doping ban reinforced following special dispensation to play at the World Cup. There are seven changes made by manager Gareca, to the squad that he took to Russia a couple of months ago, with Renato Tapia missing out. Andy Polo withdrew from the roster as well, citing personal reasons.

La Blanquirroja will set out in a 4-2-3-1 formation and will make it hard for Netherlands to get past them with a solid defensive setup. However, without their leading goalscorer Guerrero, things might get a little difficult in the final third for the team.

The 28-year old Pedro Gallese is expected to continue under the crossbar for Peru. The back four that featured in Russia is unlikely to be tinkered heavily by the manager, with Luis Advincula and Miguel Trauco set to retain their places as the full-backs on the right and the left sides respectively. Christian Ramos and Anderson Santamaria will slot in the heart of the defence.

The 76-time capped Yoshimar Yotun is a guaranteed starter in the two-man midfield axis for the Peruvians and will be tasked with disrupting the home team’s rhythm. With Tapia unavailable, he is likely to be partnered by the 23-year old Pedro Aquino.

Christian Cueva will be in-charge of the playmaking duties, starting in the No.10 role, while support will be provided from the flanks by Andre Carrillo and Edison Flores, who is the second-highest goalscorer in the squad with 9 strikes in 33 caps. In the absence of Guerrero, 33-year old Jefferson Farfan could be set to spearhead the attack on Thursday.

Probable Starting XI (4-2-3-1): Gallese; Advincula, Ramos, Santamaria, Trauco; Yotun, Aquino; Carrillo, Cueva, Flores; Farfan;

Key Stats

  • This is the fourth time that the two nations will be facing each other. Netherlands have won two of the previous three encounters (D1).
  • The only competitive fixture between Netherlands and Peru came at the 1978 FIFA World Cup that ended in a goalless draw.
  • The South American nation haven’t scored a single goal against the Dutch.
  • Wesley Sneijder is the Netherlands’ most-capped player with 133 international appearances, in which he has scored 31 goals.

Player to watch

Frenkie de Jong (Netherlands)

Set for his international bow (Picture Courtesy - AFP/Getty Images)

Set for his international bow (Picture Courtesy – AFP/Getty Images)

While Sneijder will dominate the headlines going into the game, as he brings an end to a fantastic career with Netherlands, there will be a lot of expectations on a certain Frenkie de Jong, as he gears up for his first international cap.

The 21-year old, widely heralded as the next biggest thing in Dutch football, had been targeted all summer by Barcelona. Extremely versatile, De Jong can play in the midfield as well as the defence and was a crucial player for Ajax as they qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stages.

Known for his technical and creative abilities, the Dutchman has been tipped for a bright future and he would be hoping to kickstart his international career with a strong display against the Peruvians.

Prediction

Netherlands 1-0 Peru

Since Koeman took over the team, Netherlands have managed just to win just one out of four matches – a 3-0 win over Portugal in March – and come into the game having played out two consecutive 1-1 draws. Peru will not make things easy for the home team, considering their resilient nature. However, without Guerrero they are likely to struggle at the top end of the pitch.

It promises to be a cagey affair, with not many goals but considering Netherlands have better quality in their attacking ranks, we at The Hard Tackle expect Koeman to get his first home win as the manager of the Dutch national team on Thursday.

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