Netherlands begin their preparation for next summers World Cup with a friendly against Japan in Belgian side Genk’s Cristal Arena.

  • By Michael Bell
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vdv nethThe Match with Japan on Saturday begins a friendly double bill for the Dutch, who will also host Colombia on Tuesday.

Coach Louis van Gaal has been hit with a number of injuries this week, with captain Robin van Persie, Dirk Kuyt, and Jordy Clasie all pulling out, while Siem de Jong, Leroy Fer, and Davy Propper have come into the squad.

Vitesse midfielder Propper, along with Ajax defender Joel Veltman are both looking to make their debuts for the national team, after impressing Van Gaal with recent performances for their clubs.

PSV Eindhoven winger Luciano Narsingh could make his first national appearance for over a year after successfully returning from a long term injury.

Despite his heroics against Tottenham at the weekend, Newcastle United goalkeeper Tim Krul is set to be named on the bench, with Ajax’s Jasper Cillessen given the nod to start.

Likely Netherlands line up–┬áCillessen; Janmaat, De Vrij, Martins Indi; Blind; N. de Jong, Vd Vaart, Strootman; Robben (C), S. de Jong, Lens.

Japan have also qualified for next summers World Cup, and their squad is packed with talented players such as Manchester United’s Shinji Kagawa, and CSKA Moscow maestro Keisuke Honda.

Currently 44th in the world rankings, Japan have not played a competitive match since winning the East Asian Cup in July, and have recently lost friendlies to Serbia, and Belerus.

The two sides last met in the 2010 World Cup with Netherlands triumphing 1-0, thanks to a Wesley Sneijder goal on route to the final. Both sides could potentially be drawn in the same group again next year, and Alberto Zaccheroni’s side will be a good test for Van Gaal’s team.

With the next two games we will get an idea of how Netherlands could cope without either Van Persie or Klaas jan Huntelaar up front. Its worrying for the national teams future that a midfielder such as Siem de Jong is the best option to fill in up front without the two goal machines.

Bas Dost, Luuk de Jong, and Ricky van Wolfswinkel all need to work harder for their clubs if they are to have any chance of making it onto the plane to Brazil next summer.

A game where Louis van Gaal is set to experiment, while Japan will be determined to make a point after two disappointing recent results. It has all the makings of a great contest between two sides with great attacking talents, and one that should get the excitement for next summer building.

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