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AFCON champions Senegal kickstart their World Cup campaign against Netherlands
Netherlands to win 2-1
Tournament: FIFA World Cup 2022 | Venue: Al-Thumama, Al-Thumama StadiumBet Now
Netherlands are the favourites to win Group A, largely due to their status as one of the most famous footballing nations from around the world.
While they have never lifted the famous golden trophy, the Oranje have reached the final on three occasions, in 1974, 1978 and 2010.
They have had some fabulous players in their ranks over the decades, although they have always fallen just short. They didn’t ever qualify in 2018, so this represents a fresh chance for them to succeed.
Senegal are one of the strongest ‘non-elite’ countries in the World Cup, and will be expected to progress from the group stage and then see where things take them.
Their squad is littered with players from the highest leagues around Europe and they are the current Africa Cup of Nations champions.
African teams always play with great energy and vibrancy, but there is plenty of quality on show here too and it’ll be an interesting test for the Netherlands in their opening game.
FIFA Ranking: 18
Predicted Finish: Round of 16
Reasons to be cheerful:
AFCON champions bring plenty of quality to the tournament
Are good enough to reach the knockout rounds
Reasons to be fearful:
Sadio Mane is a real injury doubt for this one
Don’t score as many goals as they should
There are five African countries taking part in this year’s World Cup, and Senegal have shown themselves to be the best among them over the last few years.
They are the Africa Cup of Nations champions, the equivalent of a European team winning the Euros, and they will come into this with some confidence.
Up until a couple of weeks ago, they will have been even more optimistic about their chances. That was until their star man, Sadio Mane, injured himself playing for Bayern Munich.
He is likely to miss the opening game or two.
Still, manager Aliou Cisse has plenty of talent available to him, including Watford’s Ismaila Sarr, Everton’s Idrissa Gueye and Chelsea’s Kalidou Koulibaly
Star Man – Pathe Ciss
Ciss comes from a family of players who have represented their country in seven major tournaments over the years. Pathe plays his club in Spain and is arguably Senegal’s best midfielder.
FIFA Ranking: 8
Predicted Finish: Quarter Finals
Reasons to be cheerful
Legendary manager who has tasted success throughout his career
A well-balanced squad of youth and experience
Reasons to be fearful
Goalkeeper position has been unsettled
Have a history of underperforming at big tournaments
Once again, Netherlands appear to have one of the most talented squads on paper. They have a superb mix between attack and defence, and youth and experience.
Virgil van Dijk has had his injury issues in recent times but remains one of the world’s best defenders. Cody Gakpo has become one of the most sought-after forwards after he burst onto the scene at PSV.
They have quality in every position, and are in good form coming into this game. Since being eliminated from Euro 2020, they have gone unbeaten in 15 games, winning 11 of those.
The Oranje must overcome a history of underperformance at World Cups. They have been runners up on three occasions, but with the quality they have had over the decades, they should have done better.
They are favourites to top Group A, however.
Star Man – Memphis Depay
Despite his struggles at club level, failing to hold down a starting spot at Barcelona, his form has been excellent for his country. He is just nine goals short of Robin van Persie’s national record of 50.
Opening group games are often tight
Netherlands have the quality going forward
Senegal will need to improve their goal scoring
If Netherlands are to progress deep into the tournament, you would imagine that they need to top their group.
To do so, they need to beat Senegal, who will be favourites against Ecuador and Qatar in their other fixtures. Senegal have a habit of keeping clean sheets, but need to improve going forward.
If Netherland’s players can click, they will be a force in this tournament. It’s likely to be a close game, but one that Louis van Gaal’s men should win.
Netherlands to win 2-1
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