The Netherlands will be aiming to stretch their lead atop Group A4 in the UEFA Nations League when they face Wales at De Kuip on Tuesday night.

As the UEFA Nations League group stage enters the second phase, Wales and the Netherlands return to action on Tuesday night in Rotterdam in another critical encounter that pits top against bottom, with massive ramifications for Group A4 standings.

The Oranje have built a formidable squad over the past year, as seen by their 4-1 victory over second-ranked nation Belgium in the 2022/23 UEFA Nations League opener, followed by a 2-1 triumph against Wales.

Louis van Gaal’s side stretched their unbeaten streak to 12 games with a 2-2 draw against Poland in Rotterdam at the weekend. But skipper Memphis Depay squandered the golden chance to complete a spectacular turnaround from two goals down when he missed a stoppage-time penalty.

Keeping aside the result last time out, the Netherlands have been fairly impressive so far and remain top of this section with seven points in the bag. They will be eager to bounce back from their disappointment with a positive result against a resurgent Wales on Tuesday night in their own backyard.

As for Wales, Brennan Johnson’s late goal against Belgium helped the Dragons put their first point on the board. They are rooted to the bottom of their group and while this summer was clearly all about securing the ticket to the FIFA World Cup later this year, Rob Page’s side must sustain this momentum and feel-good factor around the team ahead of Qatar 2022.

And a few positive displays in these Nations League fixtures could go a long way towards doing that as Wales trail Poland, who sit three points ahead.

Wales should look no further than the reverse fixture in Cardiff to draw some encouragement, as they came so close to taking something from the game when Rhys Norrington-Davies levelled things up with a stoppage time header, only for Wout Weghorst to head home the winner for the Netherlands in the 94th minute. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.

Team News & Tactics

Netherlands

Tim Krul is currently recuperating from an injury and remains sidelined. Virgil van Dijk has been handed a breather after playing a lot of football in the past season and will not feature here. Otherwise, manager Louis van Gaal has no fresh injury concerns from the game against Poland and has a full-strength squad to pick his starting XI from.

The former Manchester United manager made eleven changes for last week’s trip to Cardiff but is unlikely to shuffle his pack to such a drastic extent for the visit of Wales. Jasper Cillessen should be able to recover from a minor injury in time to take his usual place in between the sticks ahead of Mark Flekken, who has started the last two games.

Despite van Dijk’s unavailability, the Netherlands boast plenty of talented centre-backs on their roster, with Jurrien Timber, Stefan de Vrij, and Matthijs de Ligt set to form the central defensive trio. Right wing-back Denzel Dumfries’s bombing runs forward and directness have been a feature of the Netherlands’ attacking play, and his goal against Poland was fully deserved. Meanwhile, Daley Blind remains an ever-present figure on the opposite flank for the hosts.

Up ahead in midfield, the responsibility of keeping things in check will fall onto the shoulders of Teun Koopmeiners, who will also be spraying passes from the middle of the park.

The Atalanta midfielder will be supported by Barcelona superstar Frenkie de Jong and Steven Berghuis, both of whom will also have the license to drive forward and offer the creative thrust for the home team. Up front, Memphis Depay and Steven Bergwijn are the starters, but Cody Gakpo might see some action as well.

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

Wales

Wales will be without the services of Joe Allen heading into their clash with the Netherlands after the midfielder was forced off in the first half of the 1-1 draw with Belgium. Gareth Bale played 73 minutes last Saturday, so he is unlikely to be risked here from the start.

Rhys Norrington-Davies, who netted in the reverse fixture, will miss out due to a one-match ban for the accumulation of yellow cards. Danny Ward (knee) and Joe Morrell (broken toe) will also not be making the trip to Rotterdam owing to their respective injury problems.

The absence of Allen and Morrell is likely to force Page to switch a couple of players around. Versatile centre-back Ethan Ampadu could be promoted into the defensive midfield role to slot alongside Matthew Smith in the midfield double-pivot.

Wayne Hennessey had to shake off a knock to feature against Belgium, and he should keep his place in goal, especially with Ward still out injured. The veteran shot-stopper should be shielded by the three-man central defensive unit, comprising of Chris Mepham, Joe Rodon, and Ben Davies, as they look to keep the back-doors shut throughout the game.

The wing-back duo of Connor Roberts and Neco Williams will provide width in the final third while also keeping the defensive shape by tracking back. Aaron Ramsey will slot into the attacking midfield role. The 31-year-old midfielder provided a beautiful assist last time out and will be determined to set up some clear-cut goal-scoring chances for the men upfront.

It seems Wales have unearthed another gem in Brennan Johnson to follow in the footsteps of Bale and Ramsey, and the Nottingham Forest forward will be hopeful that his goal against the Red Devils should be enough to earn him a starting spot here. Kieffer Moore will be the target man at the top, and his aerial supremacy and hold-up play make him a potent weapon from set-pieces.

Probable Lineup (3-4-1-2): Hennessey; Mepham, Rodon, Davies; Roberts, Ampadu, Smith, Williams; Ramsey; Johnson, Moore

Key Stats

  • Netherlands have an unblemished record against Wales, having won all of the nine previous meetings between the two sides, netting 26 goals and shipping in just six.
  • Wales will seek to create history on Tuesday by scrapping a result against the Dutch, but it will be difficult given that Oranje last lost an official match at De Kuip way back in 2000.
  • The hosts are in good nick at the moment and have only lost twice in the last 20 games across all competitions (W14 D4) while winning eight of their last ten on home turf (D1 L1).
  • Netherlands have scored two or more goals in nine of their past ten home matches.
  • Wales boast a decent away record recently, winning five of their last ten away matches (D2 L3). But they have never beaten a side currently in UEFA Nations League A in the 22 competitive games dating back to 1998.

Player to Watch

Memphis Depay

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With 13 goals in his last ten appearances for his country, Memphis Depay is the man to look out for in this UEFA Nations League clash. He missed an added-time penalty late in the Poland game last time out and will be waiting on the wings to make amends by netting here.

The 28-year-old has set high standards for himself, especially when representing his country, as the Dutch skipper is now just nine goals shy of breaking the all-time Netherlands top scorer record set by Robin van Persie (50).

The former Manchester United forward is enjoying his best form for the Netherlands at present. A penalty-taker for the Oranje and excellent at free-kicks, Depay should have plenty of opportunities to deliver a trademark performance for the Netherlands against Wales.

Prediction

Netherlands 2-0 Wales

Goals could be in store at De Kuip; the Netherlands have not kept a clean sheet in six games since November, while Wales have scored in each of their last eight matches. Wales qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the first time in 64 years, and they are building something special under the guidance of interim coach Rob Page. The home side may be dominating the group, but they have shown defensive frailties that Wales might try to exploit to a good extent.

That said, the Oranje also showed great character, resilience and mental fortitude by scoring late in the last two games and will be determined to return to winning ways in front of their home crowd. They boast a better quality team on paper, and De Kuip is very much a fortress for the Netherlands, who should be able to secure all three points in Rotterdam.

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