Netherlands begin a crucial week in qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with a tie against Belarus at De Kuip. 

neth audhgAll eyes may be on Monday’s blockbuster clash with France in the Amsterdam Arena, but its crucial that Netherlands register their first win of the qualifying campaign when Belarus visit Rotterdam on Friday night. Danny Blind’s men were forced to settle for a draw against Sweden in the first group game and cannot afford any dropped points against Belarus if they are to avoid a repeat of the failed Euro 2016 qualifiers.

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Blind stated he expects nothing less than three points, “We are playing at home and our boys play at the top of the UK, Italy, Russia, Turkey etc, so we know what to expect against Belarus at home. We just have to win. ”

Opponents Belarus got off to a good start by holding France to a 0-0 draw in Borisov and they go into the game on Friday undefeated in their last three matches. However, as an independent nation, Belarus have never qualified for a major tournament and like Netherlands missed out on the European championships after coming fourth in their qualifying group, which contained the likes of Spain, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Netherlands Team News

Danny Blind was hoping to call upon the services of Arjen Robben for the upcoming internationals but the Bayern Munich winger hasn’t recovered from a rib problem and will take no part in either game. Winger Steven Berghuis and forward Luuk de Jong were also forced to withdraw from the squad through injury with Memphis Depay and Siem de Jong getting late call-ups.

Blind has stated he will continue with a 4-3-3 formation but there are a number of positions that are undecided. The coach has stated that either Maarten Stekelenburg or Jeroen Zoet will start in goal, while Stefan de Vrij could come into the centre back position and Rick Karsdorp is in line to make his debut at right back. Wesley Sneijder is struggling with a muscle injury but should start while its a choice between Vincent Janssen and Bas Dost for the striker position.

Possible Netherlands line-up: Zoet, Karsdorp, Blind, De Vrij, van Dijk, Strootman, Wijnaldum, Klaassen, Promes, Sneijder, Janssen

Previous meetings

Netherlands and Belarus have met on six occasions with the Oranje coming out on top in four of those. Belarus won the first meeting in 1995 and the last time they met during the qualifiers for Euro 2008. In 2006, Netherlands last hosted an encounter between the two nations and ran out 3-0 winners thanks to a double from Robin van Persie and a late strike by Dirk Kuyt.

Odds 

Netherlands 2/7 Draw 5/1 Belarus 12/1

What to expect

With the national team returning to De Kuip stadion for the first time in years, the atmosphere on Friday should be electric and it will be up to the players to keep that going with a dominant display. Belarus will likely sit deep and look to play on the counter so it will be up to Danny Blind’s side to break down their organised defence. An early goal should ease any nerves between the players and send them into the tie with France on the back of a comfortable victory.




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