Scotland V England Saturday 24th February. 4:45PM. BBC One Scotland v England renew their rivalry…
Watch The Netherlands v Wales on S4C or BB2 Wales from 7.30pm
The Netherlands welcome Wales to the Amsterdam ArenA in their final prep match for the 2014 FIFA World Cup tonight.
The Oranje, currently a top-priced 35/1 with Betfair to emerge victorious in Brazil this summer, impressed during their qualification campaign but have not been firing on all cylinders in recent friendlies.
Indeed, Louis van Gaal’s men were held to a 1-1 draw against Ecuador and, in their latest match, only just edged Ghana out, winning 1-0. The Dutch faithful will be hoping to see more spark against the Welsh.
Van Gaal, who will take hold of the reins at Manchester United following the World Cup, described his side as ‘careless’ against Ghana, alluding to how wasteful they were both in possession and in front of goal, particularly in the second half.
Change of formation to benefit Van Persie?
The manager also suggested that a change of formation was imminent, perhaps switching to 4-4-2 from 5-3-2. This will ensure that the Dutch have more width going forward and, moreover, eliminate the necessity for Robin van Persie to frequently drop deep and switch out wide, as was the case against Ghana.
Speaking to the medial earlier this week, Van Gaal said: ‘What is important is that Van Persie does not do too much work. On Saturday against Ghana, Robin did too much. He was behind the right back too often, and at times the left back.’
The 30-year-old endured a torrid, injury-plagued season with United, but has looked sharp since returning to the international fold, scoring Holland’s goals against Ecuador and Ghana. He is 33/1 with BetVictor in the 2014 World Cup top goalscorer betting at the time of writing.
Wales without their wizards
To their credit Wales have bounced back from the disappointment of failing to qualify for Brazil by going on a good run. They are unbeaten in their last four and outpointed Iceland 3-1 in their latest game in March.
However, the visitors will be without main men Gareth Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Ashley Williams this evening. In the absence of that trio, Bale and Rambo in particular, Chris Coleman’s side will, with all due respect, lack the requisite cutting edge to really trouble the Dutch.
The Netherlands v Wales prediction
Predictably, the Oranje are red-hot favourites to register a confidence-boosting victory before boarding the plane for Brazil; they are generally 1/4 in the match result market, while Wales can be backed at a top-priced 16s with Betfair, and the draw is available at 5/2 with BetVictor.
Despite the absence of key players, the Welsh will be no pushovers. Indeed, it’s highly unlikely that The Netherlands will repeat their 7-1 thrashing of Wales in 1996. Still, a decisive victory for Van Gaal’s charges is very much on the cards.
The last time the Dragons visited these shores they were beaten 2-0 by the Dutch, and Ladbrokes go a tempting 11/2 about that scoreline prevailing once again in favour of the home side.
Van Persie heads the first goalscorer market at 17/5 with 888sport, and fellow striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is 15/4 with Bet365. However, at 9/2 with the latter firm my money is on the redoubtable Arjen Robben to open the scoring.
The Bayern Munich winger is an ever-present threat on the right flank; he’s particularly dangerous when cutting inside and producing rasping shots from just outside the box. If at his best tonight, Robben will torment the Welsh back-line and could easily end up with a goal or two.
Arjen Robben in the first goalscorer market – 9/2 (Bet365)