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Early winners Netherlands and Ecuador clash in potentially deciding clash
Netherlands to win 2-1
Tournament: FIFA World Cup 2022 | Venue: Doha, Khalifa International StadiumBet Now
Ecuador rolled out an impressive performance as they brushed aside any hopes that hosts Qatar might have of winning their opening game.
Qatar were woeful for much of the game, and are likely to crash out of the tournament when they play Senegal on the same day as this game.
This clash will tell us a good deal more about Ecuador’s prospects, coming up against one of the contenders to go deep into the tournament. The South Americans will be on a high from that first game, of course.
The Netherlands will also be on a high, although they had to be more patient in their opener against Senegal. The African nation frustrated the Oranje at times and had one or two chances of their own.
Louis van Gaal’s men won through in the end, however, and another three points here would see them almost certainly top the group and head through to the Round of 16.
FIFA Ranking: 8
Predicted Finish: Quarter Finals
Reasons to be cheerful:
Showed excellent defending against Senegal at times
Their attacking players will cause problems at this World Cup
Reasons to be fearful:
Lost their way after a strong start against Senegal
Memphis Depay still doesn’t seem fully fit to start
The Netherlands have often flattered to deceive at World Cups, promising so much with the ability throughout their squad but ultimately failing to reach their full potential.
For long parts of their opening game, it looked as though that would be the case once again, with Senegal doing a good job of frustrating Louis van Gaal’s team.
Van Gaal has taken the Netherlands to a 3rd place finish at the 2014 World Cup, and he will know all about the ups and downs of competition football.
From his perspective, he will be hoping that Memphis Depay is fit enough to start games as quickly as possible. The Dutch looked a little toothless with Janssen and Bergwijn upfront, although Gakpo is clear a star in the making.
They will face similar opposition here in Ecuador, an energetic team that will counter quickly and tackle fiercely, and the Dutch will need to be up for a similar battle.
Star Man – Cody Gakpo
If Depay is only fit enough for the bench once more, van Gaal must use Gakpo as his main man. The youngster has 13 goals in 24 games for PSV so far this season, while he scored his fourth for his country over Ecuador.
FIFA Ranking: 44
Predicted Finish: Round of 16
Reasons to be cheerful
Were pacey and direct in first half against Qatar
Enner Valencia’s quality upfront will cause problems for defences
Reasons to be fearful
Will face a much sterner test here
Defeat will leave them needing a victory over Senegal to progress
For Ecuador’s fantastic start in their opening game, they cannot take their foot off the gas now.
If, as expected, they lose this game against the Netherlands, they will probably still need to beat African champions Senegal to head through to the knockout stages.
That is assuming that Senegal beat Qatar, which is likely. It’s also a possibility that the Africans will put more than two goals past Qatar, meaning that they may have a better goal difference going into that decider.
In this game, Ecuador must be as direct and sharp as they were in that first half against Qatar. Valencia was brilliant, but so too was Caceido and Preciado as they carved through the hapless hosts.
While the Netherlands are a much tougher test, they too will be vulnerable against quick, incisive attacks.
Star Man – Enner Valencia
He now has five World Cup goals after his two against Qatar, extending his record for Ecuador to 37. He remains his country’s key hope of qualifying from the group but must now get past van Dijk and co.
Could have an end-to-end feel with Ecuador’s running power
Both teams to score
Netherlands to pinch it late on once more
The motivation for the two teams here, other than a World Cup win, is that six points from two games will almost certainly take you through to the knockout stages, possibly as group winners.
The Netherlands will have taken confidence from their late win over Senegal and we could see something similar here, with Ecuador possessing players to cause problems throughout the game.
The Dutch are favourites here, but we could see another evenly matched game.
Netherlands to win 2-1
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