NETHERLAND VS SCOTLAND
Netherlands meet Scotland on Thursday in the first of the two friendlies to be played by each nation before the European Championships from June 11.
Frank de Boer’s side are making their Euro return after embarrassingly missing out on qualifying in 2016. The Dutch manager was only appointed towards the end of last year and the results since have been a mixed bag. He failed to win any of his first four matches in charge, a first in the national team’s history.
Though they have won two of their last three matches, those wins were over minnows Latvia and Gibraltar. The lone loss was a 4-2 thriller against Turkey. With Virgil Van Dijk not being in the squad, it will be a mammoth challenge for Oranje to overturn the recent blemishes in their footballing history this summer.
The Tartans come into this match amidst a bad run of form. Steve Clarke’s men have won only one of their past five games, a 4-0 drubbing of the Faroe Islands. There’s a lot of optimism around this side, having qualified for their first major international tournament since 1998.
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) May 31, 2021
They have quite a few experienced Premier League hands in Scott McTominay, Kieran Tiernay and captain Andy Robertson. However, Scotland still remains one of the most inexperienced side at the Euros and it will be a tough ask for them to go deep.
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) May 30, 2021
With both teams having announced their 26-member squad, the pair of upcoming friendlies will be a good exercise to assess their squad strength and get a much clearer picture of how to approach the competition proper.
The Netherlands are without starting goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen, who is expected to make a full recovery soon. In his place, Norwich number one Tim Krul is expected to start. New Barcelona signing Gini Wijnaldum is also likely to feature along with talisman Memphis Depay.
— UEFA Nations League (@EURO2024) May 28, 2021
PROBABLE LINE-UP: Krul; Van Aanholt, De Vrij, Blind, Veltman; Wijnaldum, De Roon, Gravenberch; Berghuis, Depay, Promes
Midfielder John Fleck has tested positive for Covid-19 at Scotland's training base in La Finca, Spain. He won't travel for Wednesday's friendly against Netherlands in Portugal.#bbcfootball
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) June 1, 2021
Scotland have an injury concern relating to Southampton man Che Adams and Sheffield United midfielder John Fleck did not travel with the squad after contracting COVID. Clarke has favoured using McTominay in the centre of his three-man defence with good effect and may continue with the same idea.
PROBABLE LINE-UP: Marshall; Hanley, McTominay, Tierney; Christie, McGinn, McGregor, Gilmour, Robertson; Dykes, Nisbet
Memphis Depay will be the leading man for Netherlands in this match and beyond. The Lyon attacker is coming off his best production year in terms of goal contributions. He scored 22 goals and had 12 assists in all competitions, and has been heavily linked with a move to Barcelona.
20 – Memphis Depay becomes the first Lyon player to score 20 goals and deliver 10 assists in a single Ligue 1 season since Opta analysed the competition (2006/07). Brilliant. #NOOL pic.twitter.com/pAamSPOJoA
— OptaJean (@OptaJean) May 16, 2021
Depay’s pace and incredible shot ability are likely to cause heavy problems for the Scottish defence. They are not the most agile around, except for Tierney who will be tasked with containing the striker. The Tartans also have to be aware of Depay finding his partners in attack with his precise passing and close him down quickly whenever he is near the penalty box.
First training done. pic.twitter.com/vujxkYiEpC
— Memphis Depay (@Memphis) May 30, 2021
Scottish captain Andy Robertson is his side’s, main dual man. The Liverpool left-back is one of the world’s best while going forward and putting in dangerous crosses from the left. He has racked up 30 assists over the past three Premier League seasons, and will once prove to be a handful for the opposition’s right side.
Andy Robertson: ‘Kieran Tierney is a fantastic, fantastic footballer. He’s a pleasure to play alongside. He’s still young. People forget that he has a lot of potential ahead of him to improve. He’ll only get better & better with his attitude’. pic.twitter.com/odY0RdwLZm
— Patrick Timmons (@PatrickTimmons1) May 27, 2021
Given his attacking prowess, it is somewhat of a surprise that Robertson also performs his defensive duties admirably. He is one of the quickest players on the pitch and will be able to track back in competition with some of the Dutch players. It is safe to say that Clarke will be heavily reliant on Robertson to cover the left flank effectively.
With the Euros less than two weeks away, these friendlies will provide much needed game time for both sides. Coming off gruelling league seasons, the match might be off to a slow start but there’s no doubt that the pace will pick up very quickly. After all, it is an audition for the best eleven for the tournament. FootTheBall predicts a 2-1 win for the Netherlands.