Sports Mole previews Saturday’s Nations League clash between Netherlands and Poland, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
The Netherlands will aim to make it three wins from three in the UEFA Nations League when Poland make the journey to Rotterdam on Saturday evening.
Louis van Gaal‘s side left it late to snatch a 2-1 victory over Wales in midweek, while the visitors were thumped 6-1 by Belgium in a humbling.
Connor Roberts seemingly had some choice words for Burnley teammate Wout Weghorst at the full-time whistle on Wednesday night, as the Dutch giant produced a magnificent header to propel Oranje to a dramatic late success in Cardiff.
Rhys Norrington-Davies had previously levelled for Wales in the 92nd minute following Teun Koopmeiners‘s opener, but Weghorst’s brilliant finish kept the Netherlands’ perfect Nations League run going before Roberts appeared to ask the striker why he could not replicate such feats for the Clarets.
Weghorst’s effort has ensured that Netherlands remain at the summit in League A Group 4 with six points from a possible six, and preparations for the impending World Cup could hardly be going better for the 2010 runners-up.
Van Gaal has now overseen eight wins and three draws from 11 matches since the Netherlands were dumped out of Euro 2020 at the hands of the Czech Republic, and the Dutch have also gone 11 games without defeat on home soil – prevailing in six of their last seven and scoring at least two goals in each of those successes.
Failure to keep a clean sheet in four successive matches may come as a concern to Van Gaal, although he experimented with a much-changed XI in the battle with Wales, and their upcoming opponents have already been torn to shreds once in North-Western Europe.
For 42 minutes of Poland’s midweek contest with Belgium, Czeslaw Michniewicz‘s side were in dreamland after Robert Lewandowski‘s opener, but Belgium soon kicked into gear and taught their continental counterparts a footballing lesson.
Leandro Trossard struck twice off the bench alongside goals from Axel Witsel, Kevin De Bruyne, Leander Dendoncker and Lois Openda to humiliate Poland, but fears of relegation to League B should not be creeping in for this weekend’s visitors to Rotterdam just yet.
Victory over Wales on the opening day leaves Poland sitting comfortably in third place and three points clear of the Dragons, but another daunting clash with Belgium is to come for Poland, who have held their spot in League A since the Nations League’s inception.
Lewandowski’s effort against Belgium at least marked the ninth away game in a row that Poland have managed to find the back of the net, although they have only kept one clean sheet on unfamiliar territory in that time, and that will not be music to the ears of the Brussels faithful before the Netherlands’ well-rested attackers come out to play.
Furthermore, it has been 43 years since Poland last claimed victory over the Netherlands of any sort, with Oranje picking up a 2-1 win in the most recent encounter in the 2020-21 Nations League for their fifth triumph in a row in this fixture.
Netherlands Nations League form:
Netherlands form (all competitions):
Poland Nations League form:
Poland form (all competitions):
The Netherlands lost Matthijs de Ligt to an unspecified injury during the latter stages of their win over Wales, and Van Gaal’s options in the defensive third were already cut before the contest as Virgil van Dijk left for his holidays.
Nathan Ake is primed to return at the back, though, and it would not be a surprise to see Jordan Teze drop out after Van Gaal gave a brutally honest assessment of his debut on Wednesday evening – the same can be said for five-cap attacker Cody Gakpo.
Frenkie de Jong, Memphis Depay, Steven Bergwijn and Steven Berghuis will all expect to be rotated back into the side for Saturday’s game, while uncapped goalkeeper Kjell Scherpen is in the squad after Tim Krul‘s withdrawal.
In contrast, Poland suffered no physical injuries to their players on Wednesday night, in spite of their morale taking quite a lot of damage, and various changes can be expected on the visitors’ end too.
Grzegorz Krychowiak left the field at half time after picking up a booking in midweek and is a candidate to drop out, while Bartosz Bereszynski could benefit from a move to a three-man defence to return in place of Robert Gumny.
Wojciech Szczesny will expect to finally earn some minutes in goal for Poland this month, and centre-back Kamil Glik prepares for his 95th appearance for the national team.
Netherlands possible starting lineup:
Cillessen; Dumfries, De Vrij, Ake, Blind; De Jong, Koopmeiners, Klaassen; Berghuis, Depay, Bergwijn
Poland possible starting lineup:
Szczesny; Bereszynski, Glik, Bednarek; Cash, Linetty, Zurkowski, Frankowski; Zielinski; Buksa, Lewandowski
We say: Netherlands 3-1 Poland
While a change in shape and personnel should at least see Poland’s defence tighten up a tad, the visitors’ defensive record away from home makes for bleak reading, and a well-rested crop of Netherlands stars should have a glint in their eyes here.
Poland always possess a goal threat going forwards, but Van Gaal has overseen a stellar period of rejuvenation at the Oranje helm and will expect to see his side move onto nine points with relative ease.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.