Netherlands head to Belarus on Saturday looking to keep their 2018 World Cup hopes alive.

With only two games to go, Netherlands can afford no slip ups if they are to snatch second place in the group and a potential play-off spot.

Currently, Netherlands are three points behind second-placed Sweden, who are Oranje’s opponents in the final qualifier next week. However, Sweden’s much better goal difference makes them heavy favourites to take second, especially since they face Luxembourg at home. Netherlands need to beat Belarus handsomely on Saturday and hope Luxembourg can keep the score down in Stockholm to give Dick Advocaat’s side any realistic chance of sealing second spot on Tuesday in Amsterdam.

Speaking at his press conference, Advocaat admitted his side need to look for goals, “We know we must play aggressively, but we have to win first. From this thought we will try to score goals.

“I am convinced that we will win the next two games. I can not make promises about the number of goals. The situation with the goal difference is difficult, but we know how it is. We will certainly not make a calculation error. ”

Belarus are out of the competition already and currently sit bottom of the group with a worse goal difference than Luxembourg. Their only win of the qualifiers was a 2-1 home victory over Bulgaria. They also held France to a 0-0 draw.

Netherlands Team News

Advocaat revealed that he was considering playing with a three man defence  in order to put pressure on the Belarus back four, but added that he had not decided yet. The coach did confirm that both Virgil van Dijk and Jasper Cillessen would start the game while AD believe that Ryan Babel could be in for a shock start.

Bas Dost is a doubt for the game after picking up an injury in training, while Kevin Strootman is ruled out of both this match and the game against Sweden.

Possible Netherlands line-up: Cillessen, Janmaat, Van Dijk, Rekik, Blind, Propper, Vilhena, Wijnaldum, Robben, Babel, Janssen


Belarus 14/1 Draw 6/1 Netherlands 2/9

Netherlands record against Belarus

Netherlands have played Belarus on seven occasions, with the reverse fixture in October finishing 4-1 to Oranje.

Netherlands have won five of the meetings, but worryingly have lost two out of three matches played in Belarus. Most recently 2-1 in a Euro 2008 qualifier.

Football-Oranje editor Michael Bell’s Prediction

Sadly, Netherlands World Cup chances aren’t totally in their hands anymore with Oranje left relying on neighbours Luxembourg to do them a massive favour in their game with Sweden, that will be over by kick-off in Minsk. A big Sweden win will leave Netherlands needing to match/better that result to give them any real chance on Tuesday.

A win just simply isn’t enough. Netherlands need goals, goals and more goals. Whether, they can do that, though, is another question. The lack of creativity in the midfield leaves me a bit worried, with Netherlands having difficulty breaking down tight defences in recent matches.

With Belarus having nothing to play for, I am confident that Netherlands will win but whether the margin will be enough is another question.

Belarus 1-4 Netherlands

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