Preview: Netherlands vs. Denmark

Preview: Netherlands vs. Denmark

Two dark horses for the 2022 World Cup begin their preparations for the Qatar tournament on Saturday, as the Netherlands welcome Denmark to the Johan Cruijff Arena in Amsterdam for a friendly battle.

Oranje secured a first-placed finish in World Cup Qualifying Group G after beating Norway 2-0 back in November, while the Euro 2020 semi-finalists topped Group F despite a last-gasp defeat to Scotland.

Missing out on a place at the World Cup finals twice on the bounce would have been unthinkable for this Netherlands side, but Louis van Gaal and co ensured that would not be the case, with the 2010 runners-up seeing off the threat of Turkey to advance to Qatar.

The Netherlands’ qualification bid was not without its wobbles, but a 2-0 success over Norway on the final matchday – with Steven Bergwijn and Memphis Depay netting late on – confirmed their place in the finals as they prepare to return to the biggest stage of them all.

Bowing out of Euro 2020 in the last-16 to the Czech Republic was a bitter disappointment for the Dutch, who recovered from that exit with a string of stellar performances in World Cup Qualifying – taking 17 points from 21 on offer since the beginning of September.

Home is certainly where the heart is for Van Gaal’s side too, as the Netherlands have won each of their last four on familiar turf and have scored at least twice in each of those victories – amassing a whopping 18 goals in total, but friendly games at home have not been their forte recently.

Indeed, the Netherlands have won just three of their last 12 friendly matches on home soil since June 2015 and have only managed to keep two clean sheets in that stretch, so a Denmark side only looking upwards ought to travel with Amsterdam with no fear this weekend.

Denmark were only 90 minutes away from ending a perfect World Cup Qualifying campaign with 10 wins and 30 points to their name, but Scotland had other ideas at Hampden Park, as Kasper Hjulmand’s side dropped points for the first and only time in Group F.

Despite seeing their 100% streak come to an end against Scotland, Denmark’s tally of 27 points was the joint-highest in UEFA qualification – only Germany amassed the same amount over their 10 matches – while three goals conceded represents the joint-best defensive record alongside England in the six-team groups.

Reaching the semi-finals of Euro 2020 and winning nine in a row during World Cup qualification certainly made the world sit up and take notice of Denmark – now ninth in the world rankings – but they are winless in 13 away friendly matches dating back to 2013.

Not since Euro 2012 have the Netherlands and Denmark faced one another in any competition – with the Scandinavian side winning 1-0 that year – while each of the last four friendlies between the two European heavyweights has ended level.

Netherlands International Friendlies form:
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Netherlands form (all competitions):
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Denmark International Friendlies form:
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Denmark form (all competitions):
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We say: Netherlands 2-0 Denmark
A lack of first-choice defenders could prove to be Denmark’s undoing against the Netherlands and their bright attacking options, with the likes of Depay and Danjuma certainly fancying their chances on home soil.

Picking up exhibition wins away from home has been a struggle for Denmark year after year, and we can only back the in-form Oranje to kick off 2022 on the right foot with victory in Amsterdam.

Granted, Denmark’s XI had a bit of an unfamiliar feel about it with first place already assured, as John Souttar and Che Adams struck either side of the half-time whistle to see Scotland assure themselves of a spot in the playoffs back in November.

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