Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 7/20
Netherlands will play host to Bosnia and Herzegovina at the Johann Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam on Sunday, in the fifth matchday of League A Group 1 of UEFA’s Nations League.
The home side will need the three points from this game as they seek to increase their chances of reaching the finals. After four rounds, they’re not looking nearly as good as they would have hoped to at this stage, given the fact that they were the runners-up of the competition’s previous edition. They are in third place with five points to their name. Their opponents in this match are the only team below with two, while Poland and Italy sit above with seven and six, respectively.
It started well enough, with a 1-0 win at home against Poland, but they were brought back down by Italy in the following game by the same scoreline (0-1). A goalless draw against Bosnia in Zenica came also as a blow, as opposed to the 1-1 in Italy which followed it. The thing is, a defeat in this one would see them drop to fourth, and the danger of a shocking relegation would become real as they prepare to go to Poland next week.
Netherlands also squeezed in two friendlies between the rounds, losing 0-1 to Mexico and drawing 1-1 against Spain.
The biggest blow for Frank De Boer and his team is, of course, the absence of their captain. Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk will probably miss the entire remaining part of the season having suffered a torn ACL in the Merseyside Derby last month. Further more, Manchester City defender Nathan Ake is also out after picking up a hamstring problem in the game against Spain earlier this week.
Marco Bizot was in goal for that one, but De Boer will likely put Tim Krul between the posts this time.
Bosnia and Herzegovina
The visitors are also in need of a result here, though for different reasons. A defeat would put them beyond all chance of rescue ahead of the final round, while a point would keep their hopes alive at least until Italy come to visit next week. A surprise win would, of course, put them above the hosts and then they’d really have a lot to play for in the final round.
Bosnia and Herzegovina started with a surprise 1-1 draw away to Italy, but were defeated by Poland in Zenica next by 1-2. The goalless draw at home against Netherlands followed, and then came a 3-0 defeat in Poland. Meanwhile, they also played the semifinals of the Euro qualification play-off where they were knocked out on penalties by Northern Ireland, and a 0-2 friendly defeat to Iran.
Like Netherlands, Bosnia will go into the game without their captain. Roma striker Edin Dzeko has been tested positive for coronavirus and Armin Hodzic of Turkish side Kasimpasa is likely to take his place in the team. Malmo defender Anel Ahmedhodzic was sent off against Poland and is now serving a one-match suspension.
AC Milan midfielder Rade Krunic is likely to start having spent the Iran game on the bench, but the captain’s armband will probably be worn by Barcelona’s Miralem Pjanic in the absence of Dzeko.
This match certainly won’t be easy for either team. There are a number of high-quality players in the ranks of both.
The fact that Netherlands aim higher and are playing at home is set to act in their favour, and with a midfield that will likely consist of Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum, Barcelona’s Frenkie De Jong and Manchester United’s Donny van de Beek, they will be controlling the possession and keep the ball in the opposition half for longer spells.
Nothing is guaranteed and the home side will certainly have to watch out for counterattacks, but even without Van Dijk and Ake, they should be able to win this match and make the final round of the group extremely interesting; for all but for Bosnia.
Verdict: Home win
Best odds: 7/20
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