Netherlands vs Belgium predictions: Expect entertaining Amsterdam finale

James Milton
Spotlight
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has guided his team to a 14-match unbeaten run
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal has guided his team to a 14-match unbeaten run

The Netherlands are flying high at the top of Nations League Group A4, and they will secure a place at next year's finals as long as they do not lose at home to Belgium on Matchday 6.

Louis van Gaal's men made the perfect start to their campaign in June by thrashing Belgium 4-1 in Brussels, and the Oranje, favourites to win a 2022 World Cup group containing hosts Qatar, Ecuador and Senegal, have kicked on in style.

Late goals secured 2-1 and 3-2 victories over Wales, while they also fought back from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Poland in June before winning Thursday's reverse fixture 2-0 in Warsaw.

Belgium bounced back from their opening defeat to the Dutch with a 6-1 rout of Poland, and Roberto Martinez's men kept alive their hopes of overhauling their neighbours at the top of Group A4 by beating Wales 2-1 earlier this week.

Team news

Former Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi is likely to lead the line for Belgium against the Netherlands
Former Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi is likely to lead the line for Belgium against the Netherlands

Memphis Depay came off injured during the Netherlands' win in Poland on Thursday, and Van Gaal has confirmed that the Barcelona forward will not feature against Belgium.

Steven Berghuis has also been ruled out, and Atalanta midfielder Teun Koopmeiners is being assessed after suffering an early head injury in Warsaw.

Belgium's record goalscorer, Romelu Lukaku, is not in the squad as he continues his recovery from a thigh problem, so Michy Batshuayi, who scored the Red Devils' second goal against Wales, should lead the line again.

The stats

There has been plenty of entertainment in Nations League Group A4 as the Netherlands have scored 13 goals in their first five games and Belgium have found the net 11 times.

Neither side has been convincing at the back, but both teams have scored in eight of their 10 combined Nations League matches.

Confidence is growing in the Dutch camp as the World Cup approaches as Thursday's win in Poland stretched their unbeaten run since Euro 2020 to 14 matches, and they have won 10 of their last 13 internationals.

Depay's absence is a blow to the Oranje, but they have scored at least twice in nine of their last 10 games, with the exception coming in a 1-1 friendly draw with Germany in March.

This fixture tends to produce goals, and seven of the last eight meetings have seen both teams score, dating back to an extraordinary 5-5 friendly draw in September 1999. Six of the previous nine Netherlands-Belgium clashes have ended in draws, and three of the last six finished 1-1.

Prediction

A draw would ensure the Netherlands qualify for the Nations League finals, but the Dutch defence is not reliable enough for them to sit back and try to soak up pressure against a Belgium attacking unit masterminded by the brilliant Kevin De Bruyne.

Attack may be the best form of defence for Van Gaal's men, whose clean sheet in Warsaw on Thursday was their first shutout in seven matches.

Belgium, three points behind the Dutch in the standings, have to go for broke so the game could open up and backing both teams to score, and over 2.5 goals looks the way to go.

Netherlands star Cody Gakpo is hoping to take centre stage for the hosts with Depay sidelined. The PSV youngster opened the scoring against Poland, extending his hot streak to eight goals in his last seven appearances for club and country, and he is well worth considering in the first-goalscorer betting.

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