Netherlands get their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign underway with a trip to face the Czech Republic in Prague.

blind manThe Dutch go into the match hoping for a much improved performance after Thursday’s 2-0 defeat to Italy in Guus Hiddink’s first game back in charge of the national team. The new coach decided to change from the 5-3-2 formation, which was so successful under Louis van Gaal, back to a 4-3-3 but after ten minutes his game-plan was already ruined with the Italian’s 2-0 up and Netherlands down to ten men.

Hiddink is still unable to call on the services of injured trio Ron Vlaar, Klaas Jan Huntelaar, and Arjen Robben for the game in Prague, while defender Bruno Martins Indi is likely to be dropped to the bench after his red card against Italy.

In the run up to the game Ajax defender Joel Veltman has taken Bruno Martins Indi’s spot in training, while Hiddink has hinted that PSV talent Memphis Depay could come into the starting eleven.

Possible Netherlands XI: Cillessen, Janmaat, Blind, De Vrij, Veltman, De Jong, Wijnaldum, Sneijder, Kuyt, Depay, Van Persie

Opponents Czech Republic also go into the game on the back of a defeat with Pavel Vrba’s side falling 1-0 at home to the USA, meaning it is now four matches in a row without a win for the coach. The Czech national team is no longer packed with big names, and although Petr Cech and Tomas Rosicky are still available to select, neither player is a first choice pick at their clubs.

Possible Czech Republic XI: Cech, Kaderabek, Limbersky, Kadlec, Prochazka,  Jiracek, Darida, Rosicky, Pilar, Krejci, Vydra

Previous meetings:

The two nations have met nine times in history, with both winning three games each. The last meeting saw Netherlands defeat Czech Republic 2-0 in 2005 with goals from Rafael van der Vaart and Barry Opdam.

Key Players:

Memphis Depay

Czech Republic’s wing backs will look to get forward at every opportunity to try and exploit the lack of pace in the Dutch backline, and this could fall right into the hands of Depay. Without Arjen Robben the Dutch lacked any attacking threat on the wings against Italy, but in Depay, Guus Hiddink has a perfect replacement for the Bayern winger. The PSV star has nine goals already this season, and if Netherlands can get him on the ball and running at the Czech defence then it could be the key to victory.

Tomas Rosicky

The 33-year-old is still the key man in the Czech national team despite not being a regular for Arsenal. Rosicky will look for the ball at every opportunity and will try to dictate the play from the centre circle. It is important that Nigel de Jong can stay close to the midfield, and take away Czech Republic’s most skillful player/

Robin van Persie

The Manchester United striker has had an off key start to the season as he struggles to maintain match fitness, and he was virtually anonymous against Italy on Thursday. However that was due to the team being down to ten men, and the lack of pace on the wings. If Depay starts against Czech Republic then that gives Van Persie a player to play off and feed from, and coming up against Chelsea rival Petr Cech in the opposition goal should give the Netherlands captain more determination to lead his side to victory. Van Persie is coming under scrutiny from some fans of country, and club, but the striker can send out the perfect message by downing Czech Republic on Tuesday.

Matej Vydra 

The Watford striker will be the Czech’s biggest threat against Netherlands and he has the pace to exploit both Stefan de Vrij, and Joel Veltman in the defence, just like Ciro Immobile did for Italy on Thursday. The 22-year-old has four goals in thirteen caps so far

Conclusion:

Netherlands will be determined to show that the loss to Italy was just a World Cup hangover, and a victory in Prague would be a massive confidence boost at the start of the Euro qualifiers. Czech Republic are not the force they once were in European football, and their form shows that Netherlands should start the match as strong favourites, as long as Guus Hiddink has learnt from the tactical mistakes he made against Italy.

An injection of pace to the attack, and a tighter defensive showing should see Netherlands run out victorious and set them on the way to France in two years.




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