Friday International Friendly Match – Netherlands vs England

March 23rd 2018 19:45 – Amsterdam Arena

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Netherlands: WLWWW

England: DWWWW

England make their final preparations for this summer’s World Cup with two friendly games against teams you would also expect to be preparing for the world’s greatest tournament but who both missed out. Italy await the Three Lions next week after this Friday’s match against the Netherlands in Amsterdam.

England Head Coach Gareth Southgate has made some surprise selection choices including the uncapped Burnley pair of Nick Pope and James Tarkowski, Alfie Mawson and Lewis Cook, who also join the senior squad for the first time. Meanwhile, the more established names of Chris Smalling, Gary Cahill and Michael Keane drop out just three months before the action begins. Pope has become a regular in the Burnley goal replacing Tom Heaton who is a long-term injury victim, while Tarkowski has provided assured cover in front of him as the pair have become an integral part of Burnley’s success story this season. Swansea defender Mawson is enjoying another impressive season, joining Bournemouth’s Cook, who was captain of last summer’s England’s Under-20s World Cup winning team, as they both look to impress in the senior squad. Joe Hart retains his place despite a lack of playing time and Jack Wilshire returns to the squad after a two year absence.

This will be the Netherlands first game under new head coach Ronald Koeman, who will be no stranger to fans of English football after his managerial stints at Southampton and Everton. In fact, a few of the Dutch squad ply their trade in England, including Patrick van Aanholt, Nathan Ake, Virgil van Dijk and Timothy Fosu-Mensah. The former Barcelona player has named five uncapped players for his first international in charge, including 18-year-old Ajax winger Justin Kluivert, the son of former Netherlands striker Patrick Kluivert.

Koeman’s also named three AZ Alkmaar players, goalkeeper Marco Bizot, midfielder Guus Til and striker Wout Weghorst, in his squad, while the final new face is right-back Hans Hateboer of Atalanta. The Dutch are entering a new phase, trying to rebuild after the indignity of failing to qualify for the World Cup. Koeman knows the task ahead as believes he well prepared for the job: “I spoke to Louis van Gaal before I took the job as Dutch national team manager. I wanted to prepare as best as possible for this job. I also spoke with players and visited clubs too.”

Prediction: It is hard to make any sort of prediction as this being the first time in charge for Koeman, but recent history between the two teams indicates there are usually goals. With only one goalless draw in the last ten meetings, a draw with both sides to score looks like a good shout at 16/5 with Betfair.

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