The Netherlands will look to keep their perfect start to the UEFA Nations League going when they welcome Poland to De Kuip on Saturday.

An impressive Netherlands side will take on Poland in their Group D fixture in the UEFA Nations League on Saturday. With two games played, the home side currently have a 100 per cent record and appear to be going from strength to strength.

The Oranje have often fallen short of achieving glory on the international stage despite producing some world-class outfits in eras gone by. Runners up in the inaugural Nations League tournament, the Netherlands will be keen to go one better this time around.

They certainly appear to be making the right noises and have gotten off their 2022 campaign to a flying start. A convincing 4-1 thrashing of heavyweights Belgium was followed up by a hard-fought win away to Wales. This has taken them to the top of the group, ahead of Poland and Belgium by three points.

A win against Poland will see the Netherlands solidify their grasp at the top heading into the halfway mark of the group stages. Poland, for all their talent, blow hot and cold but could prove to be a real thorn in the Oranje’s side should they fail to turn up on the night. Led by the imperious Robert Lewandowski, Poland have some dangerous game winners in their mix.

Poland will have to overcome the burden of history to secure something out of this game. They have won just thrice in 17 attempts against the Netherlands and are yet to defeat the Oranje since 1979. Both teams were also drawn together in the group stage of the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League with the Netherlands coming out on top in both games.

It should prove to be a hard-fought game between two sides who can be excellent on their day. The Hard Tackle takes a look at how both sides will line up on the night and what tactics they might employ.

Team News & Tactics

Netherlands

The Netherlands are currently on an 11-game unbeaten streak since their loss to the Czech Republic at UEFA Euro 2020. They are also on a similar unbeaten streak at home and will be formidable opponents under Louis van Gaal.

The Oranje will be without Matthijs de Ligt, who picked up a knock in their win over Wales. With Virgil van Dijk also unavailable, van Gaal has decisions to make in defence. He is likely to play a 3-5-2 formation that can also transition to a back five if needed. The setup will give the veteran manager enough options to shuffle his tactics.

Several of the Dutch side’s top players look set for a return after being rested against Wales. With Tim Krul injured, Jasper Cillessen will start in goal behind a back four that will be led by Inter Milan ace Stefan de Vrij. He will be accompanied by Jurrien Timber and Nathan Ake, who will form a flat-back three capable of playing the ball out from the back.

Frenkie de Jong will be the Netherlands’ orchestrator from midfield and will pull the strings in possession. The duo of Steven Berghuis and Davy Klaassen will provide the muscle and will give de Jong the leeway to dictate terms in the middle of the pitch. Both players will also get forward when possible and try to overwhelm the Polish defence.

Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries should start as the wing-backs on the night and provide width. Matty Cash and Nicola Zalewski are a real handful on their day and silencing them on the night will starve Robert Lewandowski of crosses to feed on. The wide duo will also be tasked with stretching the Polish defence and handing Memphis Depay and Steven Bergwijn channels to make runs into.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Cillessen; Timber, de Vrij, Ake; Dumfries, Berghuis, de Jong, Klaassen, Blind; Bergwijn, Depay

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Poland

Poland go into the game knowing full well that a loss could set back their ambitions of progressing in the competition. With a game against Belgium and the reverse fixture against the Netherlands up next, they cannot afford to drop cheap points. Securing all three points at De Kuip will function as a morale booster.

Czeslaw Michniewicz will be without Jakub Moder on the night as the Brighton star nurses an injury. While he does not have other injuries to worry about, the Poland head coach will be keen to address the team’s pride that experienced a real rollicking thanks to their 6-1 thrashing against Belgium. There is no better way to put behind such a result than to return to winning ways, but against the Netherlands, it is easier said than done.

Poland are likely to make a few changes to their lineup and could adopt a 4-3-1-2 formation. Juventus ace Wojciech Szczesny is likely to return to the starting lineup behind a flat back four of Matty Cash, Kamil Glik, Jan Bednarek and Nicola Zalewski.

The trio of Mateusz Klich, Grzegorz Krychowiak and Jacek Goralski will form the three-man midfield that will look to contain de Jong’s orchestrating abilities. As long as Poland can silence de Jong, they will have a better chance at preventing the Netherlands from gaining an early foothold in the game and dictating terms.

Piotr Zielinski will be tasked with providing the attacking impetus from midfield, and the veteran’s ability to carry the ball forward could prove decisive. His movement and ability to make a pass could fashion opportunities for Robert Lewandowski and Karol Swiderski, who appear set to start up front.

Probable Lineup (4-3-1-2): Szczesny; Zalewski, Glik, Bednarek; Cash, Klich, Krychowiak, Goralski; Zielinski; Swiderski, Lewandowski

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Key Stats

  • The Netherlands are on an 11-game unbeaten streak since their disappointing loss to the Czech Republic at UEFA Euro 2020.
  • Both teams have faced off against each other 17 times. The Netherlands have won eight of those games, with Poland coming out on top thrice.
  • Poland have not beaten the Netherlands since 1979.
  • The Netherlands have won the last five games against Poland with an aggregate scoreline of 11-4.
  • Poland have managed to keep a clean sheet against the Netherlands just thrice. The last time they did so was in the 1986 European Championships.

Player To Watch

Robert Lewandowski

Will Poland captain Robert Lewandowski lead by example? (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Will Poland captain Robert Lewandowski lead by example? (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

The Poland captain is his nation’s biggest threat and will need to be at his best if his side has any ambitions of earning points from the game. A serial goalscorer, Lewandowski will be up against a Dutch defence that has failed to keep a clean sheet in their last four outings.

Also, the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt should give Lewandowski a slight advantage when it comes to a head-on-head duel. The 33-year-old is a serial goalscorer and can turn a game around in an instant. His ability to make runs into channels and the clinical ruthlessness that he shows in front of the goal makes him a difficult player to pin down.

The Netherlands go into the game as heavy favourites against a Polish side that is low on morale. Should Poland spring a surprise, Lewandowski is likely to be the difference-maker.

Prediction

Netherlands 4-1 Poland

The morale in both camps could not have been in starker contrast given their respective results last time around. The Netherlands also have the upper hand when it comes to quality, and with home support egging them on should secure a comfortable win.

Poland can cause the home side some trouble thanks to Robert Lewandowski, but the visitors are lacking in quality in most other positions with respect to their opponents. Anything less than a Dutch win on the night should be considered a shock.

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