Netherlands lock horns with France in the Amsterdam Arena on Monday as both nations look to take a big step towards the 2018 World Cup.

oranje-france-dNetherlands campaign has got off to a decent start with the Dutch currently top of the group on goals scored after the draw in Sweden and 4-1 over Belarus on Friday, but they face their toughest test yet when the French visit Amsterdam. Didier Deschamps side got off to a sluggish start with a 0-0 draw in Belarus but came from behind to comfortably beat Bulgaria 4-1 last week.

Oranje head coach Danny Blind lamented his own defence for their frailties against Belarus, but he told the press on Sunday that he believes his side can pinpoint weaknesses in the French side and come out with a positive result.

He said, “The French also have their defects. They sometimes give away areas where we can use.

“We started well against Sweden, only the result (1-1) was disappointing, and the good feeling about that game we brought to the game with Belarus (4-1). Now I want to do the same in that third game and, at the least, not lose, ut France are a tough opponent. Those guys are used to playing top matches every week. They are physically strong and so we will have to make a stand there straightaway.”

Team News

Wesley Sneijder will play no part in the game after suffering a hamstring injury in the win over Belarus on Friday, with Feyenoord midfielder Tonny Vilhena called in as a replacement. Jens Toornstra and Michel Vorm have also been added to the squad after injuries to Luciano Narsingh and Jasper Cillessen.

With Sneijder absence, Blind is likely to return to a 5-3-2 formation with Stefan de Vrij coming into the heart of the defence and Quincy Promes pushed through the middle. The tactic would be a risky one as France tore a 5-3-2 Netherlands apart in the first half of the 3-2 friendly win earlier this year before Blind changed to a 4-3-3. However, the coach may be hoping for more success with De Vrij’s presence.

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

Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna is a doubt for France after picking up an injury against Bulgaria, and will be assessed before the game. Deschamps started on Friday with two strikers, Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro, and after impressing they may well start again. If Sagna is out, Monaco defender Djibril Sidibe will likely take his place.

Possible France line-up: Lloris, Sidibe, Kurzawa, Varane, Koscielny, Matuidi, Payet, Pogba, Sissoko, Griezmann, Gameiro

Head to Head

Netherlands and France have met on 24 occasions since 1908 with the French edging it with eleven wins to the Dutch’s ten. The last meeting in Amsterdam came in March as a memorial match for Johan Cruyff with France coming out on top 3-2 thanks to a last minute goal by Blaise Matuidi after Netherlands had come back from 2-0 down. You have to go back to Euro 2008 to find the last Netherlands success over France, with Dirk Kuyt, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder all scoring in a 4-1 win.

Odds

Netherlands: 5/2 Draw: 23/10 France: 13/10

Strong Netherlands defence key to victory

On Friday, Netherlands looked threatening going forward, but the defence gave away far too many chances and against better opponents, would have been punished. Blind called out his back four after the victory, stating they were too sloppy and if they play like that again on Monday then France will surely win. The addition of De Vrij makes the defence instantly stronger, but Jeffrey Bruma and Virgil van Dijk must be much more attentive if the Oranje can be successful against the likes of Pogba and Griezmann.




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