Netherlands in Transition, But Could Still be too Strong for England
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Netherlands in Transition, But Could Still be too Strong for England

England’s World Cup preparations take another step along the road with an away trip to Amsterdam, and it shows how off the pace the Three Lions appear to be as they are second favourites against a Netherlands side who failed to qualify for this summer’s tournament.

The Dutch are a long way removed from the great sides of years ago, and their qualifying campaign ended in abject failure as France and Sweden beat them into third.

England, in contrast, advanced to Russia 2018 by going unbeaten against the likes of Slovakia, Slovenia, Scotland, Lithuania and Malta.

England have travelled to past tournaments on a wave of positivity and fallen on their faces. This year, expectations are low and you get the feeling that if England and Netherlands had switched qualification groups it would have been the Three Lions watching this summer’s finals from the comfort of their own sofas.

There are rays of hope for England. They have a threatening attack headed by Harry Kane, ably supported by Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford, while in Kyle Walker the side have a buccaneering full-back as good as anything in world football. Sadly, that’s as good as it gets.

With Dele Alli failing to kick on, the midfield looks lacking in guile and penetration. Jake Livermore is not going to strike fear into the likes of Luca Modric, Toni Kroos and Paul Pogba who will be dominating come the World Cup.

In the centre of defence, manager Gareth Southgate does not seem to know where to turn. The rumour has it that against the Dutch he will field a back three of Eric Dier, John Stones and Harry Maguire.

Stones has no doubt improved under the guidance of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, while Harry Maguire has impressed for Leicester City this term. Dier, while talented, appears to be the new Mr Versatile in the England ranks, a Jack-of-all-trades but master of none.

It all leaves England looking a little vulnerable and they could be exposed by the Dutch on Friday night.

Netherlands need to rebuild, and have turned to Ronald Koeman – a man who played a big part in their most recent tournament success way back in 1988 at the European Championship.

Long-term success is the desired outcome as opposed to instant results, but the Oranje may get the latter on Friday. 188BET have them priced at 2.44 for the win, with England at 3.10 and the draw 3.15.

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