Netherlands v Ecuador
Louis van Gaal is likely to make a few changes for this one. Memphis Depay could be in the mix to start the match (but it is unlikely he will play the full 90 minutes as he returns to full match fitness), Teun Koopmeiners could slot into midfield next to Frenkie de Jong to help offer more control in the middle of the park, and there may be a change at centre-back if Jurrien Timber’s pace is better suited to deal with Ecuador’s attack over Matthijs De Ligt. In short, the Dutch have more options as they look set to grow into a tournament that has already had a few major shocks.
As for opponents Ecuador, they have nothing to lose now that they have earnt three points last time out. Enner Valencia is highly probable to miss out after sustaining an injury in the win over Qatar, which is a big blow to their attacking plan. They will pass it around the back and unleash a long ball for either a physical or pace battle; without Valencia, significant strength and aerial ability is lost.
Gustavo Alfaro will look to change tactics against the Netherlands instead of the attacking 4-4-2 he went with against Qatar. A usual lineup we saw during the South American World Cup Qualifiers was a 4-3-3 for Ecuador. We are likely to see this formation again on Friday with the intention of holding our defensive line while creating quick counterattacks and using our pace to beat the Netherlands in their game.
The Netherlands are viewed as dark horses to win this tournament, and van Gaal has bigged up players’ attitudes that they will lift the World Cup in a month’s time. Early nerves will be dispelled by the result against Senegal: Andries Noppert was excellent on his first international cap, the sometimes inconsistent Cody Gakpo came up with the goods at the top level, and the five-man defence looked rock solid.
Another game in this group with few goals is expected, and a narrow Netherlands win would therefore be a good bet to place.
This is a repeated bet from the last Netherlands game. It is a no brainer for de Jong to be in control of the game once more. He is always amongst the top passers on the pitch as he is one of the best midfielders in the world. Yet again, he will play the full 90 minutes and be integral to any success his side will have at the World Cup.
Very often, de Jong attempts way more than 50 passes in a game, and in a game that he was said to have “struggled” in, the Barcelona midfielder still completed 53/62 passes – also winning duels and notching an assist for the goal that broke the deadlock. Playing next to Koopmeiners, de Jong is assured even more space and time on the ball this time.
The Ecuadorian winger had a phenomenal performance in the opener against Qatar but was unlucky to find the back of the net. With doubts of Enner Valencia playing, Gonzalo Plata looks to be the main man against the Netherlands. 2 or more shots is a given!
The Ecuadorian centre back attempted 71 passes in the opener against Qatar. Piero is one of the best ball playing central defenders in world football and has been consistently getting these numbers in the Champions League and Bundesliga this season with Bayer Leverkusen. You can bet against the Netherlands he will get to 50 passes easily.
The starting centre back for Ecuador will be likely to get more than a foul against the Netherlands as this might be his toughest opponent yet. The 25-year-old Club Santos Laguna player is a fan favourite in Ecuador for using his strength and power to beat the opposing forwards. With the Netherlands looking to consistently attack during the 90 minutes, I can see Felix committing more than a foul throughout the match.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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