Netherlands kickstart their preparation for the upcoming Euros, as they take on Scotland on Wednesday in Portugal.
Ahead of the upcoming European championship set to kickstart in less than a couple of weeks, teams have already started their preparations in the form of international friendlies
One of the most exciting teams heading into this tournament is Netherlands, especially after having missed the 2018 FIFA World Cup. They are keen on doing well in this competition, which is why a friendly against Scotland on Wednesday could be an important one for Frank de Boer’s men.
The former Ajax manager has picked a relatively young side and it will be important for him to put some of them to the test, up against a Scotland side determined to perform well than their neighbours in the Euros.
The Scots have been shuffled in an interesting group as well, involving World Cup finalists Croatia, as well as England and the Czech Republic. Netherlands, in contrast, have it much easier in Group C, featuring Ukraine, North Macedonia and Austria.
Nonetheless, both the teams will be keen on beginning their preparations on a positive note, and here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their friendly this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
It is a bit difficult to predict Netherlands’ starting eleven as this is Frank de Boer’s tenth game in charge since being appointed in September 2020. The Dutchman has mostly used a 4-3-3 formation and with just two weeks left before the start of Euros, he might be tempted to experiment with some of the individuals.
One of those could be Wout Weghorst, hoping to spearhead the attack with support coming from Steven Berghuis and Memphis Depay. de Boer does have alternatives in Luuk de Jong and the exciting Donyell Malen.
In midfield, Donny van de Beek has been called up largely to play as a second-fiddle in the Euros. Hence, he may once again have to settle for a place on the bench as Netherlands start with the midfield trifecta of Ryan Gravenberch, Georginio Wijnaldum and Frenkie de Jong, who will be operating in the deepest role.
As for the defensive unit, Virgil van Dijk has been ruled out for Euros but unlike Liverpool, Netherlands do have quality alternatives. Matthijs de Ligt could take his place, joining Stefan de Vrij at the heart of the four-man backline.
Elsewhere in defence, Denzel Dumfries might just get the nod ahead of Joel Veltman in the right-back position but de Boer will strongly insist on Owen Wijndal starting on the opposite flank, as the youngster continues to grow into one of the best full-backs in the country.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Stekelenburg; Dumfries, de Ligt, de Vrij, Wijndal; de Jong, Gravenberch, Wijnaldum; Berghuis, Weghorst, Depay
It will be interesting to see how Steve Clarke fields his first team. It won’t be surprising to see a strong lineup against Netherlands, perhaps even the one that may start against England in their first game of the Euros.
The 57-year-old generally favours a three-man backline, which means Kieran Tierney will operate on the left hand side of the defence, allowing Andrew Robertson to operate as a wing-back, with Stephen O’Donnell starting on the opposite flank.
KT with the skills in training
— Scotland National Team (@ScotlandNT) May 30, 2021
As for Tierney, he is likely to operate alongside Grant Hanley and Leeds United skipper Liam Cooper, forming the three-man backline that will protect the experienced Craig Gordon in goal.
Things get more interesting in midfield, where Billy Gilmour is pushing for a start after being selected for the Euros. The young midfielder hasn’t played a lot this season, though, and could be reserved for the upcoming friendly against Luxembourg.
Scott McTominay, too, could sit out this game, paving the way for John Fleck, Callum McGregor and John McGinn to form the three-man Scotland midfield, with the latter operating in the most advanced role.
McGinn’s ability to dart forward should indeed be useful to the two central strikers in Lyndon Dykes and Che Adams, who had pledged for the Scottish national side earlier this year.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Gordon; Hanley, Cooper, Tierney; O’Donnell, Fleck, McGinn, McGregor, Robertson; Adams, Dykes
- Netherlands and Scotland’s last meeting came back in November 2017 in a friendly – a game that saw the Oranje secure a narrow 1-0 victory.
- Netherlands, in fact, have lost to Scotland only once since 1986, though their last meeting in a competitive affair came in the European qualifiers in 2009.
- This is Frank de Boer’s tenth game in charge of Netherlands, with the former Crystal Palace boss having won just four of his first nine games so far, after initially starting his reign with a 1-0 defeat to Mexico.
- Scotland will be playing their first friendly match since October 2018, when they locked horns with Portugal, where this game will be played.
- The Scots have performed well with Steve Clarke, as they have lost only twice since October 2019, securing victories over teams like Czech Republic, Slovakia and Israel.
Player to Watch
This promises to be a special game for Wout Weghorst, whose inclusion in the team was a satisfying one for Bundesliga fans. Despite the age of 28, the forward has had a rather disappointing international career with Netherlands – one that certainly does not justify the quality of the player, who has notched up only four caps.
Weghorst’s last appearance for Oranje came way back in 2019. However, a successful season in the Bundesliga saw him finish the campaign with 20 goals and nine assists, helping VfL Wolfsburg secure Champions League football next season.
It will, therefore, be a chance for him to revive his international career, especially knowing the fact that a couple of good performances in the friendlies might just be enough to help him move ahead of Luuk de Jong and Donyell Malen in the pecking order, for the upcoming Euros – making him the one to keep an eye on this midweek.
Netherlands 1-1 Scotland
It is fair to say that Netherlands are not as powerful anymore, and need some getting used to under the leadership of Frank de Boer. Unless Weghorst starts, they also lack a proper goalscoring centre-forward, with questions often raised over de Jong’s inconsistency. As such, we are expecting Scotland to make a solid impression this week and perhaps secure a 1-1 draw in Portugal.