Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 3/5
There are still quite a few places up for grabs in Martin O’Neill’s final Euro 2016 squad, meaning that Republic of Ireland players are likely to take the Netherlands friendly very seriously. Oranje have been pretty disappointing of late, but they have won on their last two visits to the UK, recording 3-2 and 2-1 victories over Wales and England respectively.
Republic of Ireland
Republic of Ireland are not exactly one of Europe’s most successful sides, but the team have been on an uptrend at the turn of the century and they have now qualified for successive European Championship finals. The Irish were unfortunate to be placed in a star-studded group at the Euro 2012 tournament, resulting in three group losses, and they find themselves in a similar position ahead of the trip to France. However, having fared pretty well in the group that contained the likes of Germany, Poland and Scotland, Martin O’Neill’s charges have some reason for optimism as well. The Irish will be vying Sweden, Belgium and Italy in Group E at the Euro 2016 finals, and friendly games against Netherlands and Belarus will serve as final tests and an opportunity for the boss to take another look at his players before he trims down his provisional squad. Martin O’Neill has fitness doubts over several high-profile footballers, but their replacements can be trusted to give their best to try and secure their place on the final list, so we do expect the hosts to perform well at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Marc Wilson had been earlier ruled out through injury, whereas James McCarthy is unlikely to be risked as he battles a thigh problem, but his place in the final squad is not in doubt.
Ciaran Clark is slowly recovering from an ankle injury, whereas Shane Long should be fit to play. Shay Given could start as he bids to secure a place on the final list.
Even if their qualifying group was no walk in the park, Netherlands shocked everyone by finishing in fourth place, missing out on the first European Championship finals since 1984. Coach Danny Blind was, nonetheless, given a chance to rebuild the squad and friendly games against Republic of Ireland, Poland and Austria could prove crucial for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers. Oddly enough, Oranje have shown a lot of promise since the disappointing qualifying campaign, defeating Wales and England on the road, while narrowly losing to red-hot France, and they will want to extend the good run of results in Dublin. With the World Cup qualifying campaign on the horizon, the head coach opted against making major changes to his side, although Feyenoord starlet Tonny Vilhena returns after a three-year absence and Watford forward Steven Berghuis is surprisingly included despite not starting a single Premier League game this season. Despite playing on the road, Netherlands will be looking to dominate the match and enjoy a lion’s share of possession, but they could find it hard to break their hard-working opposition.
Key midfielder Wesley Sneijder is set to miss out as he is contesting a Turkish Super Cup final with Galatasaray, whereas Arjen Robben is out injured.
Jurgen Locadia and Bart Ramselaar have withdrawn due to injury, with Steven Berghuis called as a replacement. Kevin Strootman returns after a lengthy absence.
Key Factors to Consider
- Ireland won two of last three matches vs Netherlands (L1)
- Only one team have scored in five of their last six meetings
- Under 2.5 goals were scored in six of their last eight meetings
- Ireland are unbeaten in last 11 home games (W7 D4)
- Netherlands won last three matches on the road
With places in the final squad up for grabs, this will be no friendly game for Republic of Ireland, as the players will give their best in an attempt to impress Martin O’Neill. Taking into advantage that the Irish have done really well at their Aviva Stadium of late and that Netherlands will be missing main creative outlets, another low-scoring game could be on the cards.
Verdict: Under 2.5 goals
Best Odds: 3/5