Netherlands vs USA predictions: Berhalter's boys to block 'boring' Dutch
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Simon Barlow
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Gregg Berhalter is aiming to guide USA to the World Cup quarter-finals for just the second time
Gregg Berhalter is aiming to guide USA to the World Cup quarter-finals for just the second time

- The Netherlands were made to look second best by Ecuador in the group stage
- The USA have lost only one of their last 11 World Cup matches in 90 minutes
- Recommended bet: USA Win or Tie

The USA are bidding to reach their second World Cup quarter-final when they take on the Netherlands in the round of 16 at Khalifa International Stadium on Saturday.

Gregg Berhalter's side must overcome a significant psychological hurdle, as they and their predecessors have only once defeated a European nation at the finals.

The Dutch are well used to the knockout rounds, having reached at least the quarter-final in four of their last five appearances on the global stage.

But Louis van Gaal's men are yet to really capture the public's imagination back home after some stodgy performances that have led them to be labelled 'boring' to watch.

Team news

Van Gaal's options have been boosted by the returns of Jeremie Frimpong and Stefan de Vrij to training on Thursday.

The defensive duo, who did not feature in any of the Netherlands' three group matches, have recovered from injuries.

Frimpong suffered an injury to his right ankle in Wednesday's session as De Vrij trained separately from the rest of the Oranje squad, but the Bayer Leverkusen star later returned to the field with the joint taped up.

An unchanged line-up from the one that achieved qualification with a 2-0 win over Qatar on Tuesday is anticipated.

That would see the in-form Cody Gakpo joined by Memphis Depay in attack with Davy Klaassen operating just behind the front two in a 3-4-1-2 formation.

For the USA, star forward Christian Pulisic is winning his battle to take part after being forced out of the action shortly after he had scored his team's winning goal in the final Group B game against Iran.

Pulisic was hit on the pelvic bone in the act of scoring and was taken to hospital with what was described as an abdominal injury.

The Chelsea star is not the only injury concern going into the Netherlands game with striker Josh Sargent, who started against Iran, currently dealing with ankle soreness.

Sargent's place could go to Haji Wright, who came off the bench for him against Iran, or Gio Reyna.

The stats

Louis van Gaal is unbeaten in his 18 matches since taking charge of the Netherlands for the third time
Louis van Gaal is unbeaten in his 18 matches since taking charge of the Netherlands for the third time

The USA's solitary win against European opposition at the World Cup came against Portugal in 2002. Of their 19 total clashes with nations affiliated to UEFA, they have lost 11 and drawn the other seven.

Discounting penalty shoot-outs, Van Gaal is unbeaten in his 10 World Cup matches in charge of the Dutch. Only former Brazil coaches Luiz Felipe Scolari (12) and Mario Zagallo (11) have enjoyed longer undefeated streaks to start their finals careers.

Gakpo has put the Netherlands 1-0 up in all three group games and will seek to emulate Spain's David Villa, who in 2010 was the last player to open the scoring in four matches at a single World Cup.

The PSV Eindhoven star has 35 goal involvements in 29 appearances for club and country this season (17 goals, 18 assists).

Prediction

The Netherlands' unattractive displays at this World Cup have not been an issue so far, but something is definitely missing from their make-up.

Van Gaal's side are creating very little from wide areas and have been reliant on moments of individual brilliance from Gakpo, who the USA will be desperate to shut down.

This has the potential to be another shock as the USA — as they did against England — will outnumber the Dutch in the middle of the park and can sustain possession and pressure.

History may be against Berhalter's squad, which is the second youngest in Qatar and has fielded the three youngest starting line-ups, but they handled the Iran game well enough to suggest their run may not end here.

Extra time or penalties might be required for either nation to progress, with the USA available at 5/6 in LiveScore Bet's double chance market not to lose the game inside 90 minutes.

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