Netherlands begin their quest to reach the European Championships next year with a tie against Belarus. Kick-off on Thursday in De Kuip is 7.45pm.

After missing out on Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, Netherlands are looking to end their major tournament hiatus by booking their place at Euro 2020.

Eight qualifying matches stand between Oranje and their first major tournament since finishing third at the 2014 World Cup. Germany travel to Amsterdam on Sunday but before that Belarus are Netherlands first opponent in Rotterdam.

With a short qualifying schedule and only the top two in each group guaranteed a spot in the Euros, Netherlands boss Ronald Koeman has warned his players not to make any mistakes which could prove very costly. He said, “We want to start our qualifying tournament well against Belarus and Germany. We only play eight group matches, every mistake can be fatal. ”

There is plenty of optimism around the Dutch national team at the moment after the successful UEFA Nations League campaign which saw Netherlands top a group containing France and Germany. Koeman will now be hoping that confidence carries into the Euro campaign.

Opponents Belarus also had a good Nations League campaign, remaining unbeaten in all six of their games without conceding once. However, that was games against Luxembourg, San Marino and Moldova.

Belarus have never qualified for a major tournament and will see their playoff spot, earned through the Nations League, as their big chance to make the Euros.

Team News

There are no new faces in Koeman’s squad but Davy Propper and Steven Berghuis are back after missing the November matches.

It is expected that Netherlands will line-up in a 4-3-3 with Memphis Depay as the starting striker. Frenkie de Jong was struggling with his fitness recently but is expected to play.

Potential Netherlands line-up: Cillessen, Dumfries, Blind, De Ligt, Van Dijk, De Jong, Propper, Wijnaldum, Babel, Bergwijn, Memphis

Belarus have an ageing squad with only one player under the age of 25. Former Arsenal midfielder Alexander Hleb is the most recognisable name in the squad but is now aged 37.

Lokeren attacker Anton Saroka is the countries danger-man having netted seven goals in 14 internationals. They are likely to line-up with a packed defence and try and hit Netherlands on the counter.

Potential Belarus line-up: Harbunow, Shitov, Martynovich, Sivakow, Valadzk, Mayewski, Hleb, Dragun, Savitskiy, Stasevich, Saroka,

Odds

Netherlands are understandably the favourites for the clash at 1/7 while a Belarus win is seen as a lengthy 14/1. A draw is 7/1

Previous Meetings

Netherlands have met Belarus on eight occasions with Oranje winning six of those but also losing twice.

In 1995 the two nations met for the first time in the qualifiers for the 1996 Euros and Belarus came out 1-0 winners. During the qualifiers for the 2008 Euros, Belarus also won 2-1.

However, Netherlands unsurprisingly have the superior record and beat Belarus home and away during the failed campaign to reach the 2018 World Cup. A 4-1 win in Amsterdam was followed up with a 3-1 success in Minsk.

Important for Netherlands to start with a victory

Belarus offers Koeman a different test as Netherlands boss. So far in his tenure, Netherlands have been mostly underdogs in their games but against Belarus they will be expected to dominate and attack from the start.

Belarus are no pushovers and go into the game having shown some good form but anything other than a Netherlands win would be a massive shock.

Koeman will be hoping for an early goal in De Kuip to set them on to a confidence boosting victory ahead of Sunday’s crucial game against Germany.

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