The Netherlands take on minnows Gibraltor as they look to increase their stronghold in Group G of the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers.
The Netherlands sit on top of Group G with a slender advantage over second-placed Norway. Loius van Gaal will be under some pressure to help qualify the team for the World Cup this time after they missed out on the 2018 edition. The former finalists do hold a decent position to go through, but some tough challenges lie ahead.
Gibraltar may not be those tough challengers for the Netherlands to be worried about, but a win over them carries as much significance as against any other side in the group. And, van Gaal will value a win over the European minnows and hope to gain momentum in the group.
Davy Klaassen scored the only goal in the last round of games to secure a win over Latvia, while nearest rival Norway drew with Turkey. Those results gave van Gaal’s side the advantage, and now the manager would want to make the most of it and collect all three points against Gibraltar.
The visitors are on a dreadful run of form, and like every qualifying campaign, they find themselves at rock bottom in their group. They have lost all their seven games in the group so far, conceding 25 goals in the process.
The 197th ranked side in football lost their previous game to Montenegro, which might have put their chances of making the Nations League playoffs into doubt. Gibraltar will have another huge task at hand when they visit Rotterdam to face van Gaal’s Netherlands side.
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Van Gaal will be delighted to welcome Gini Wijnaldum back into the fold after the midfielder served his suspension. Guus Til will probably be replaced by the PSG star in the lineup.
The manager will take the opportunity to provide valuable minutes to some of his younger stars, such as Ryan Gravenberch and Noa Lang, as both look ready to start games for the national side.
Van Gaal does not have new injury concerns in the side, although he could bring in fresh legs to replace top scorer Memphis Depay. Luuk de Jong, Donyell Malen and Wout Weghorst are all options if the manager decides to rest the Barcelona man.
However, we could see a strong defensive lineup at the back with Virgil van Dijk, and Matthijs de Ligt set to start against Gibraltar. Lang and Weghorst could support Malen in a different front three, as van Gaal targets plenty of goals from his players.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Bijlow; Timber, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Malacia; Wijnaldum, De Roon, Gravenberch; Lang, Malen, Weghorst
Gibraltar will have experienced defender Eyman Mouelji available for selection as he returns from a suspension. The 35-year-old veteran could likely push Louie Annesley out of the lineup. However, goalkeeper Kyle Goldwin will miss the game after picking a second booking, causing a suspension.
In Goldwin’s place, Jamie Robba could deputise. Meanwhile, Tjay de Barr could be missing for this round of international clashes, meaning there could be a role in the team for Reece Styche or 40-year-old Lee Casciaro to lead the lineup front.
Julio Cesar Ribas could go with a very defensive setup to stop the Netherlands attackers, with a back-five expected. Torrilla and Ronan could take up central midfield duties, with Styche expected to lead the line for Gibraltar.
Probable lineup (5-4-1): Robba; Wiseman, Mouelhi, R.Chipolina, Olivero, J.Chipolina; Walker, Torrilla, Ronan, Pons; Styche
- Gibraltar have lost the previous 17 games in World Cup qualifying rounds.
- Gibraltar have conceded at least three goals in their last eleven games in World Cup Qualifying.
- The Netherlands are unbeaten in their last six WC qualifying games, winning five of them.
- The Netherlands beat Gibraltar 7-0 in their only previous encounter back in March 2021.
- Gibraltar have been losing at half and full time in nine of their last 11 games in WC qualifying.
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The Borussia Dortmund star has taken to life in Germany rather slowly, shying away from his prolific form with PSV Eindhoven before that. However, in recent weeks, he has regularly found himself in the team and has already opened his account for the Bundesliga side.
Now, van Gaal is set to put his faith in the young forward for some important games, including the Gibraltar one. To be in the frame for selection for the big tournament next year, Malen needs to prove his worth to the manager.
Netherlands 4-0 Gibraltar
The Dutch beat Gibraltar by seven goals in their only encounter back in March of this year. With the sides set to clash again in Rotterdam, there could be plenty of goals to witness from van Gaal’s side.
Moreover, it’s impossible to think Gibraltar, who have a dreadful attacking record, to score one past the likes of van Dijk and de Ligt. Expect the Netherlands to score plenty of goals past the European minnows and comfortably achieve a clean sheet in this clash.