The Netherlands can start dreaming of the World Cup knockout stages with a win against Ecuador on Friday.
After labouring to a late win against Senegal, Louis van Gaal’s men will be tested by an El Tri side refreshed from playing a whole half of football against Qatar at their own pace.
The charismatic Dutchman’s selections have already been called into question and he could make some changes for his side’s second outing. Here’s the XI the Netherlands could start with.
GK: Andries Noppert – Unemployed just two years ago, Noppert played well on his first ever appearance for the Netherlands on Monday.
CB: Jurrien Timber – Matthijs de Ligt admitted the Ajax defender is more suited to this role in Van Gaal’s system and so could come into the side.
CB: Virgil van Dijk – Monday’s win marked Van Dijk’s first ever appearance at an international tournament.
CB: Nathan Ake – A perfect left-sided centre-back in such a formation.
RM: Denzel Dumfries – Spent a lot of the Senegal match coming inside and acting as a number ten for some reason. Jeremie Frimpong is on standby if Van Gaal opts for a different tact.
CM: Steven Berghuis – Teun Koopmeiners is breathing down Berghuis’ neck but he should retain his spot here.
CM: Frenkie de Jong – Nearly made goals at either end of the pitch last time out. Will be hoping for a more stable performance.
LM: Daley Blind – Who thought we’d be seeing Blind in this position in 2022, eh?
AM: Cody Gakpo – Floated in behind the Senegal defence to score the opener on Monday. His versatility is beneficial to Van Gaal.
CF: Memphis Depay – Vincent Janssen simply shouldn’t be starting games for the Netherlands at a World Cup, so expect the 28-year-old to regain his place.
CF: Steven Bergwijn – Well, it seems Van Gaal is keen to play at least one Tottenham flop.