England can build on their superb 3-2 victory over world champions Germany when they welcome the Netherlands to Wembley (8pm Tuesday on ITV1).
Roy Hodgson’s charges, who were the only team to post a 100 per cent winning record in qualifying for the upcoming European Championship in France, continued the positive feeling currently surrounding the national team by overcoming one of the favourites to triumph this summer at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday night.
It was a fine performance from England, who played with real energy, vim and vigour and fully deserved the victory. While there were a few suspect moments defensively, the attacking quality on display via the likes of Harry Kane (pictured), Dele Alli, Danny Welbeck, Adam Lallana and substitutes Jamie Vardy and Ross Barkley was a joy to watch for fans of the Three Lions. Eric Dier was another Tottenham Hotspur player to impress at the base of midfield, while club colleague Danny Rose was an attacking threat down the left flank.
The Netherlands inexplicably failed to qualify for the 24-team Euro 2016 by finishing fourth in Group A, and are therefore looking ahead to the qualifying campaign for the 2018 World Cup which begins later this year. They were also involved in an entertaining game on Saturday, with France running out 3-2 winners at the Amsterdam ArenA despite the Dutch coming from two goals down to draw level at 2-2 thanks to second-half strikes from Luuk de Jong and Ibrahim Afellay. Such a proud football nation will be desperate to salvage some pride at Wembley after a disastrous two years, with Holland manager Danny Blind also needing to show he has what it takes to guide the Dutch to the World Cup in Russia.
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Fraser Forster is likely to start between the sticks for the hosts after Stoke City goalkeeper Jack Butland damaged ankle ligaments against Germany, with Joe Hart not included in the squad after hurting his calf in Manchester City’s last game before the international break. Phil Jagielka, Kyle Walker and John Stones will be hoping to receive some playing time at the back, with Danny Drinkwater likely to be handed his international debut in midfield and Barkley potentially ousting Alli from the No. 10 spot. Kane could continue up top, but Vardy and Daniel Sturridge will be pushing for starts as England’s leading centre-forward.
Southampton duo Virgin van Dijk and Jordy Clasie and Manchester United’s Daley Blind were among the starters in the Dutch’s loss to France, but Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie are not in the squad and Wesley Sneijder is injured. De Jong and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar are the contenders to start up front for Holland, with Blind likely to continue with the 4-3-3 formation that the late Johan Cruyff would advocate. Memphis Depay, Afellay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Patrick van Aanholt will hope to be included in the starting XI after beginning Saturday’s clash out of it.
Taking everything into account, it is worth backing England to pick up another victory on Tuesday. The Netherlands are not in great shape at present and are likely to field an experimental line-up, while the Three Lions’ performance on Saturday suggests they are strong enough to defeat Blind’s men. England still do not look solid enough at the back to record a clean sheet, though, so a 3-1 home win looks like a tempting wager.
In terms of potential goalscorers, Kane is the most likely but there is little value in putting money on the Tottenham striker to find the back of the net unless it is for the first goal of the game. The likes of Vardy, Barkley and Sturridge offer better value, particularly as Hodgson will probably give starts to some of those players who began the Germany encounter on the substitutes’ bench.