Netherlands vs England preview, betting tips and prediction: Can the Three Lions spoil Koeman's party?
Score Draw @ 16/5 with Betfair
Preparations for the World Cup in Russia this summer take a huge step forward this week, with all of the big hitters taking opportunities to gel together with international friendlies. Gareth Southgate takes his squad to face an out of sorts Netherlands side who will not be performing on the big stage this summer. One of the great footballing nations, Holland have really struggled since reaching the semi finals of the last World Cup in Brazil four years ago, failing to qualify for either of the last two tournaments. Former Everton boss Ronald Koeman has just taken over, and with some real quality in their squad, they will be a tough test for the Three Lions on Friday evening.
Southgate, though, has taken a few risks with his selection. Burnley pair Nick Pope and James Tarkowski have shone in the Premier League this season and have been rewarded with maiden call ups, as has Swansea defender Alfie Mawson. Koeman will be wanting to see a strong showing from his side, as he gears up for the UEFA Nations League, which replaces qualification for Euro 2020. Not much is expected of the Three Lions this summer, but they must perform in this one to grow confidence within the squad and the nation as a whole heading to Russia.
Koeman has not yet taken charge of a game as coach of De Oranje, so it is tough to critique his side. Under former boss Dick Advocaat, they had won their last four in both friendlies an qualifiers, since a 4-0 humbling by France in August last year. They finished third in their group, missing out on the playoffs.
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England, as usual, were strong in qualification and eased to the top of their group. Back to back 0-0 draws against Brazil and Germany in November extended their unbeaten run to six games, but ended a run of three wins in a row.
Wesley Sneijder may have retired from international football, with no place for veteran striker Robin van Persie, but Ajax striker Justin Kluivert, son of Patrick, could make his debut.
England will be without Harry Kane, who misses out with an ankle problem, but Mawson, Tarkowski and Pope could make debuts.