Netherlands vs France : The Netherlands must beat France at De Kuip in Rotterdam on Friday if they’re to stand any chance of finishing first in UEFA Nations League Group A1, with Les Bleus on the brink of securing their spot in the finals in June.
France sit four points ahead of the Dutch and will play their final group game on Friday, while Ronald Koeman’s hosts must win before defeating Germany away in Gelsenkirchen on Monday to finish top. France were 2-1 victors over the Netherlands in September and would advance if it went to a tiebreaker.
One point on Friday would also be sufficient to keep France four points outside the Netherlands’ reach and thus see Didier Deschamps’ men into the finals.
Both teams have beaten Germany—who have been sub-par of late—in their recent outings. De Oranje defeated Die Mannschaft 3-0 on October 13, and Les Bleus came from behind to defeat Joachim Low’s side 2-1 three days later thanks to an Antoine Griezmann brace.
The Netherlands have shown signs of a revival under Koeman, but France can put a premature end to their Nations League hopes in Rotterdam.
Defending world champions France have shown few signs of letting up in form following their triumph in Russia this past summer. They are unbeaten in four matches, although one was a 2-2 draw against Iceland in a friendly.
Deschamps’ men won the World Cup due to the depth in the quality of their squad, but the manager will be tested by a string of recent injury concerns that have affected them in almost all areas:
The squad at least still includes Paris Saint-Germain prodigy Kylian Mbappe and Chelsea frontman Olivier Giroud, who supplied their goals in the 2-1 victory over the Netherlands two months ago.
Giroud’s volleyed winner from a Benjamin Mendy cross was the highlight of the clash, with France scoring either side of Ryan Babel’s leveller to notch their first Nations League victory, via Sky Sports:
The Netherlands have kept only two clean sheets in their eight matches since Koeman took charge, holding off Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal for a 3-0 win in March and repeating that result against the Germans last month.
Liverpool star Virgil van Dijk will lead De Oranje out on Friday, and the national-team captain responded to his manager’s recent suggestions he can be lazy:
He can’t afford to show such signs against the likes of Mbappe, Griezmann or N’Golo Kante, three of France’s stars who have been key to their success in recent times.
France are unbeaten in 15 matches and have a place in the Nations League finals to fight for on Friday, though the Netherlands will treat this as their own final at the risk of falling out of the race for first.