Friendly match: Ireland – Netherlands
Another international friendly match not to miss, the game between Ireland and the Netherlands promises to be a great spectacle as both teams seek for bragging rights against each other. The home team have qualified for the European championship and the upcoming duel is a perfect opportunity for them to test their current squad. Their opponents, the Dutch experienced what can only be described as a total failure in their qualifying campaign as they ended up fourth in a group they were originally supposed to win. Therefore, the visitors will just play for pride and FIFA ranking but the quality of their outfit is still outstanding, which is why they will be the favourites of the match. Kicking off at 8:45 PM (CET), the friendly match Ireland vs. Netherlands will be played at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The Irish had a hard time securing their spot in the EURO tournament. They finished third in their group behind Germany and Poland, which sent them to the tricky play-off where they faced Bosnia and Herzegovina. After a 1:1 draw claimed in the first away leg, Ireland won the home replay (2:0), booking their spot in France. Since then, O´Neill´s team have only played two preparatory matches in which they beat Switzerland (1:0) and were held to a draw (2:2) by Slovakia. In their next warm-up fixture, the Irish will take on the Dutch who are anything but their favourite opponents. Out of the last nine head-to-head encounters, Ireland managed to produce just one win and one draw – all of the remaining duels were won by Oranjes. Nevertheless, these matches date back to the era when the Netherlands were one of the very best teams in the world. Considering the current form of these sides, the Irish will certainly have a good chance of improving this extremely unfavourable record.
The Holland national team have been through a tough time. Although the Dutch still have a number of top-class players in their squad, they did unexpectedly miserable in the EURO qualification, ending up as low as in the fourth spot in the group behind the Czech Republic, Iceland and Turkey. Despite not having qualified for the tournament, Blind´s team arranged mostly top-notch sides as their opponents for their friendly games. In the first friendly match after the qualifying failure, the Dutch bested Wales (3:2). In their next game, the Netherlands faced the EURO 2016 hosts France but not even the home advantage helped them produce a good result in the fixture as Oranjes lost 2:3 to their rivals. However, just a few days later, the Dutch pulled together, claiming quite an unexpected win (2:1) at England. There are no doubts players such as Cillessen, Sneijder, Depay or De Jong can produce world-class football but the team spirit of the Dutch side has been gone, which has greatly weakened their squad.
The Dublin stadium will witness a major football event as the Irish will pit their strength against the Dutch in their preparation for their EURO 2016 campaign. While the individual quality is undoubtedly on the Dutch side, the home team will surely rely on the strong collective sense to their game and solid defence organization. The Irish should also be more motivated to win the match as some of their players are fighting for their spots in the final nomination. To find out which of these two teams will be more satisfied with the result of this game, we will have to wait until Friday night.