Netherlands will look to keep their good run going and will aim to take another step towards World Cup qualification with a win against minnows Latvia.
Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands will look to win their third World Cup qualifier on the spin when they travel to Latvia on Friday night. The Dutch are coming off the back of an impressive 6-1 smashing of Turkey in their last game.
The Oranje and currently top of Group G and hold a sizeable goal difference advantage over second-placed Norway who are also level on 13 points. With four more games to go, a win in Latvia could provide the momentum the Dutch need to get over the line.
Norway take on Turkey in Istanbul on the same night. The latter need a win to keep their hopes of qualification alive and will also do the Dutch a favour should they win all three points.
Latvia are currently bottom of the group on five points. To call the Dutch overwhelming favourites on the night would be an understatement. Netherlands lost their opener in Group G to Turkey but have looked excellent since. Having missed out on the 2018 FIFA World Cup, they will be keen to avoid a repeat of history.
While Van Gaal’s side are far from the total football preaching Oranje squads of old, they remain a formidable team on their day. They have won their last two games by a combined margin of 10-1 and will be high on confidence in Latvia. Anything less than a win would be seen as nothing short of a surprise.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will take a look at these two sides ahead of their WC Qualifying game this Friday.
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Here is Latvia squad to face Netherlands and Turkey at home⚽ pic.twitter.com/4R5WweyyTu
— Baltic football 🇪🇪🇱🇻🇱🇹 (@BaltianFutis) September 30, 2021
Latvia will be without the services of Vladislavs Gutkovskis who is suspended on the night. This could pave the door for Robert Uldrikis and Janis Ikaunieks to lead the home side’s attack. Goalkeeper Pavels Steinbors is back available but could see Roberts Ozols continue in goal following his heroics against Montenegro last time around.
It will not come as a surprise if Dainis Kazakevics opts to go for the same lineup that played Montenegro sans Gutkovskis. Midfielders Arturs Zjuzins and Janis Ikaunueks are the home side’s leading scorers with seven goals to their name. Both players look set to start in midfield once again.
Latvia were in fact lucky to come away from the game against Montenegro with a point. They have in fact conceded 44 shots in their last two games and will have their work cut out against an in-form Netherlands. The onus is on the Dutch to take the game to the hosts and Latvia would be expected to take a safety-first approach. Antonijs Cernomordijs, Kaspars Dubra could both have their hands full against the Oranje frontline.
Eduard Emsis and Zjuzins have the unenvious job of looking to stifle the Dutch midfield. Just how well they can stake their authority in the middle of the park could decide just how bad things could get for Latvia. Any chance the home side have of salvaging a point depends on their double pivot getting the better of the Dutch midfield.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Ozols; Jurkovskis, Dubra, Cernomordijs, Savalnieks; Emsis, Zjuzins; Ciganiks, Ikaunieks, Kamess; Uldrikis
Louis van Gaal will be without Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum who is suspended for the game. The former Liverpool star has not exactly found game time easy to come by at the Parc ds Princes.
It was a point the Dutch manager made ahead of the game and with Wijnaldum now absent, another player could have a shot at proving his credentials. With the World Cup just under a year away, the trio of Ryan Gravenberch, Guus Til and Marten de Roon could be handed an opportunity to prove themselves.
— OnsOranje (@OnsOranje) October 5, 2021
Donny van de Beek has been unsurprisingly left out given his troubles at Manchester United. Tottenham Hotspur ace Steven Bergwijn also misses out due to injury. The winger’s absence could see Cody Gakpo start alongside Memphis Depay and Steven Berghuis in the Dutch front three.
Apart from the aforementioned positions, the Oranje XI basically picks itself. They will be expected to keep their good run going and will be expected to adopt an attacking approach from the word go.
The Dutch frontline of Gakpo, Depay and Berghuis will be keen to continue from where they left off against Turkey. The trio could very well give the Latvian defence nightmares. Starting Denzel Dumfries on the right could tip the flank in Netherlands’ favour giving them a constant attacking outlet on the night.
One ploy Latvia could employ is to crowd the middle of the park to cut off what is likely to be a three-man Dutch midfield. However, Virgil van Dijk’s impressive passing range from deep could completely take the Latvian midfield out of play. More so, it could just give the Dutch full-backs space to run into.
Freiburg goalkeeper Mark Flekken and Club Brugge winger Noa Lang have both been named in the Dutch squad. Whether they will be handed their debuts on the night remains to be seen.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bijlow, Blind, Van Dijk, de Vrij, Dumfries; Klaasen, Jong, Gravenberch; Gakpo, Depay, Berghuis
- Netherlands have won all four meetings between the two sides in the past.
- Latvia are yet to score a single goal against the Netherlands in a competitive game.
- Netherlands have avoided defeat in 34 of their last 38 games.
- Latvia have only lost one of their last four World Cup qualifiers but could find their task cut out against the Dutch.
- Memphis Depay is the Netherlands’ top scorer in the qualifiers with seven goals in just six games. It is as many goals as Latvia have managed as a team in six games so far.
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The Barcelona star was the star man for Oranje against Turkey, grabbing himself his first hat-trick for the national team. He will look to add more to his tally against Latvia. He enjoyed a good start to life at Barcelona but has struggled to find the net of late. Donning the Orange jersey could be just the antidote he needs to turn his form around. Playing centrally, Depay will be the main focus of the Dutch attack.
The 27-year-old will have plenty of opportunities to impose himself on the game and it remains to be seen if he will show his clinical side on the night. Netherlands go into the game as heavy favourites and the better Depay plays, the better the whole offence clicks as a unit.
Latvia 0-3 Netherlands
The home side have not just lost all their previous meetings against the Dutch but have also failed to score a single goal. Given their weakness in defence and the Dutch side’s top form going forward, this could be a classic case of attack vs defence. Van Gaal’s side have too much quality in their ranks and should win the game comfortably.