MX23RW : Saturday, July 24 17:45:45| >> :600:793135:793135:
Mar 27, 2021 at 5pm UK at Johan Cruijff Arena
Berghuis (32'), de Jong (69')
de Jong (52'), Blind (87')
FT(HT: 1-0)

Ikaunieks (34'), Karklins (52')

Preview: Netherlands vs. Latvia - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Saturday's World Cup Qualifying clash between Netherlands and Latvia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

The Netherlands will aim to kickstart their World Cup Qualifying campaign at the second attempt when they welcome Latvia to the Johan Cruijff ArenA for their second match in Group G on Saturday.

Frank de Boer's men were put to the sword by Turkey in a six-goal thriller on Wednesday, while Latvia were no match for Montenegro in their inaugural game of qualification.

Match preview

Turkey's Burak Yilmaz celebrates scoring against the Netherlands on March 24, 2021© Reuters

At the ripe old age of 35, Burak Yilmaz needed no second invitation to prove that his class is permanent on the world stage, as his exceptional hat-trick set Turkey on their way to a dominant 4-2 triumph over the Netherlands in their opening game of qualification.

Hakan Calhanoglu also produced one of his trademark long-range thunderbolts on the night, and even though the Oranje restored parity through Davy Klaassen and Frenkie de Jong before Memphis Depay missed a penalty, the 2010 finalists ultimately crashed to a disappointing defeat to leave them fifth in the rankings after the first match.

It is early days, of course, but De Boer's defence simply cannot be breached at will if they are to avoid a repeat of their doomed 2018 qualification campaign, and having won just two of their last eight games in all competitions, the signs are not exactly positive for this week's hosts.

De Boer affirmed that there were no "tears" in his eyes after their opening-day defeat, and he will be expecting his side to get right back on track against Latvia, where another defeat could certainly spell trouble for their top-spot prospects ahead of the rest of the year.

Nevertheless, De Boer's men have now struck at least two goals in their last three games and will also welcome a trip to Gibraltar at the end of the month, so there is hardly a better opportunity for the Oranje to demonstrate their World Cup credentials and hopefully string together another unbeaten run.

Like his Ligue 1 counterpart, Monaco's Stevan Jovetic followed in Yilmaz's footsteps by propelling his side to victory on the opening matchday, as the 31-year-old's brace gave Montenegro a 2-1 win over Latvia at the Skonto Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Jovetic equalised for Montenegro only a matter of seconds after Latvia's Janis Ikaunieks had drawn first blood on the night, and the Monaco man struck the winner seven minutes from time to condemn Latvia to only their second defeat from nine matches since the start of 2020.

Dainis Kazakevics's team had managed to record convincing victories over San Marino and Andorra before the visit of Montenegro, and while they are currently above the Netherlands in the rankings on goal difference, a trip to the Johan Cruijff ArenA is daunting enough, no matter what sort of form the Oranje find themselves in.

Latvia have managed to navigate their last five away matches unbeaten, but the calibre of their opponents in last year's Nations League must be taken into account, and their back-to-back victories over San Marino and Andorra represent their only wins in their last 24 on unfamiliar territory - not exactly cause for optimism before trips to the Netherlands and high-flying Turkey.

Furthermore, the Netherlands have triumphed in all three of their meetings with this week's visitors - keeping clean sheets each time - and the last fixture between the two teams ended in a 2-0 win for the Oranje back in 2015.

Netherlands World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • L

Netherlands form (all competitions):
  • D
  • D
  • D
  • W
  • W
  • L

Latvia World Cup Qualifying - Europe form:
  • L

Latvia form (all competitions):
  • D
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W
  • L

Team News

Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek celebrates scoring against Spain on November 11, 2020© Reuters

Norwich City's Tim Krul was a surprise starter against Turkey, but despite shipping four goals on the night, he should keep his place after Jasper Cillessen injured himself in the warm up, while Denzel Dumfries is an option for change at right-back.

Klaassen and De Jong are both pushing for starts after finding the back of the net in midweek, and the former will be pushing for inclusion over Marten de Roon, while De Jong's potential recall could see Depay shifted out wide in place of Donyell Malen.

Donny van de Beek and Ryan Gravenberch are also ready to be called upon, but the two midfielders may instead be given a run-out against Gibraltar as De Boer seeks to keep his team fresh.

Latvia defender Elvis Stuglis was forced to pull out of the squad before the Montenegro clash due to health problems, while Vladislavs Gutkovskis and Kaspars Dubra have succumbed to injuries.

Kazakevics spoke positively of his side's performance in midweek so may not see the need to make significant alterations here, meaning another start for Dundalk's Raivis Jurkovskis at left-back.

However, with a trip to Turkey also in mind, the visiting manager has Vitalijs Maksimenko and Alvis Juanzems raring to go from the bench, especially considering that four of his players are walking a tightrope after being booked on Wednesday.

Netherlands possible starting lineup:
Krul; Dumfries, De Ligt, Blind, Wijndal; F. De Jong, Klaassen; Berghuis, Wijnaldum, Depay; L. De Jong

Latvia possible starting lineup:
Steinbors; Savalnieks, Oss, Maksimenko; Jurkovskis; Jaunzems, Zjuzins, Tobers, Ciganiks; Ikaunieks, Uldrikis

SM words green background

We say: Netherlands 3-0 Latvia

The Netherlands have often flattered to deceive under De Boer, and Latvia will be determined to take advantage of their defensive frailties as they eye a shock result. However, the visitors are yet to score against the Oranje and we cannot see that changing anytime soon - this should be a routine win for the Netherlands to kickstart their qualification campaign.

Top tip

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Turkey's Burak Yilmaz celebrates scoring against the Netherlands on March 24, 2021
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World Cup qualifying roundup: Yilmaz hits hat-trick as Turkey beat the Netherlands
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