Saturday, November 18, 2017

Prediction: France vs Netherlands

Verdict: France to win & both teams to score

Best Odds: 11/4

Bookmaker: Bet365

Les Bleus hope to take a huge step forward towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification and grab a significant morale boost by beating one of Europe’s top sides the Netherlands at Stade de France on Thursday night.

France

Les Bleus manager Didier Deschamps has been blessed with a string of highly-talented footballers and it is fair to say that it has been a while since France had this much talent within their squad. Even with the high-profile names such as Ousmane Dembele, Kevin gameiro and Tiemoue Bakayoko left out of the squad, France boasts plenty of quality, skill and talent in every line of the team. Having opened the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifications on the high, the French suffered a last-gasp defeat to Sweden last time out which put them in second place in the standings, level on points with the Swedes. Heading into the next qualifying cycle, Les Bleus are determined to make most of their match against the Dutch and get back on the track in a highly-competitive group A. Now it is up to Didier Deschamps to find the sensible balance within his squad and fit all of the quality at his disposal for what has been described as a crucial match in the qualifiers. The Netherlands are enough of an inspiration for any side and the three points against the Dutch would provide hosts with a valuable morale boost as well.

Team News

Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane is injured, while his teammate Karim Benzema continues to be overlooked for selection.

There was also no place in the team for Manchester United wide man Anthony Martial, whereas Kylian Mbappe has been included in the squad despite being yet to feature in any of the matches this season.

Netherlands

The forthcoming match bears great importance for hosts but for the visiting side as well. The Netherlands are currently sitting in third place ahead of the Thursday’s six-pointer in Paris and are in grave danger of being effectively ruled out of the race for a place at the showpiece tournament in Russia next year. Two defeats from six games in a group as competitive as this one might come back to bite them in the back, whereas a potential third blow could be the final straw. The Netherlands are considered a world-class side in terms of quality, but the Dutch side has been lacking the team spirit and positive momentum for a while now. Their last three matches offer some promise as Oranje recorded three straight wins with ten goals scored and none conceded in their last two matches. Having missed the Euro 2016 finals in France, the Dutch cannot afford to miss another major tournament. Dick Advocaat’s men are in front of a genuine test of ambition, dedication and commitment and will be expected to go beyond their own abilities to secure three vital points in Paris. The fact Oranje have been alternating between wins and defeats in their last five matches will not offer a great deal of encouragement however.

Team News

Defenders Virgil van Dijk, Nathan Ake, Daryl Janmaat and Jeffrey Bruma are all absent which will give Dick Advocaat a huge headache ahead of the France match.

Veteran striker Robin van Persie has earned a recall to the national side, whereas the Manchester United youngster Timothy Fosu-Mensah received his first-ever call-up to replace the injured Kenny Tete.

Key Factors to Consider

  • France are level on points (13) with group A leaders Sweden
  • Netherlands trail France and Sweden by three points in third
  • France won last three matches against the Netherlands
  • Les Bleus lost only one of their last 10 home matches
  • Netherlands scored ten goals in last two matches

Conclusion

The Netherlands travel to France feeling great pressure on their shoulders. Oranje need a win to remain in the running for a coveted tournament, but it will be easier said than achieved given the quality of their rivals. France thrive under the backing of their fans and we fully expect them to emerge victorious from the Thursday’s encounter.

Verdict: France to win & both teams to score

Best Odds: 11/4

Bookmaker: Bet365

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