Desperate Dutch need a result against unfancied Latvians
Hiddinks men should have enough strength to turn around poor run of form
Despite a poor run of results in the EURO qualifiers for Die Oranje, including a 2-0 dismantling at the hands of Gylfi Sigurdsson & co, the difference in quality between these teams means that I can’t really look past a comfortable victory for the Dutch.
Guus Hiddink will certainly be hoping so, having recently suggested that he would resign if his team suffered defeat at the hands of their Latvian counterparts, although he did go on to say that he was sure the Netherlands would qualify.
Hiddinks men have already suffered two shock defeats, losing 2-1 to the Czech Republic and 2-0 to Iceland. Whilst a 3-1 victory against Kazakhstan means they currently sit third in their group, which would potentially be good enough to see them qualify, Dutch fans and media are dissatisfied with the downturn in form since Louis van Gaal left after guiding them to third place at this summer’s World Cup.
One explanation for this has been the change in tactics used by the Dutch. After looking comfortable using van Gaal’s much heralded 3-5-2, Hiddink has switched to a 4-3-3 formation. Find free bets for this match here.
The extra defender used by Hiddink has not had the desired effect – they have already conceded more goals in three qualifying games (five) than they did in all seven games they played at the World Cup (shipping just four goals).
A win for Latvia would see them leapfrog the Netherlands into third place in the group, giving their fans hope that manager Marians Pahars can mastermind an unlikely push to qualify for the second time in their history (the only time being in 2004, when they returned home winless).
However Pahars’ men face a huge challenge competing with a star-studded Netherlands lineup containing such names as van Persie, Robben and Sneijder. By contrast,the only player most of us will have heard of is their captain Kaspars Gorkss, the former Reading defender who is now a free agent after being released by them this summer.
Whilst a good draw against Turkey in their last fixture proved they may be more of a challenge than most teams expected, the Dutch squad filled with quality attacking players will prove more of a challenge than a Turkey side who currently sit bottom of the group, just below Kazakhstan. With a defence lacking experience of playing against world class strikers, and a strikeforce which has scored just once in three games, I fully expect the Netherlands to silence their critics by comfortably beating Latvia.
I like the look of a Netherlands win with a -2 handicap at 11/10, as after a bit of a goal drought I feel this could be the game that the Dutch really find their form. The lack of firepower for Latvia, added to their defensive frailties means that it might be worth having a go at a Netherlands 3-0 win, at 11/2.
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