The Netherlands are back in European 2016 Qualifying action and will be hoping to get back to winning ways on Thursday night when they take on Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson’s Group A leaders Iceland at the Amsterdam ArenA.
The 19:45 (BST) kick off will see new Dutch manager Danny Blind take to the touchline – he served as assistant to Guus Hindink who resigned on August 1st paving way for Blind to make the step up to manager.
The former international defender has had enough preparation time to prepare his squad and make the necessary changes needed to help his side succeed and progress. One of the main changes Blind has put in place was to hand the captaincy to Arjen Robben replacing vice-captain Robin Van Persie.
Blind has been impressed with Van Persie’s response to his decision stating: “I think Robben brings a lot of enthusiasm”. He added: “I was impressed with how Van Persie responded, he was very professional. For Robin, only one thing counts. He wants to go to the European Championships.”
Van Persie has since responded to the change stating: “Of course, I am disappointed but a new coach can always choose a new leader, that is his right. I’m glad I’m still second captain”.
Both sides have previously met in October 2014 when two goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson were enough to give Iceland a 2-0 victory over the Oranje. The Netherlands currently sit third with ten points in Group A having won three, drawn one and losing two of their matches. Meanwhile, Iceland have won five of their games, losing just one to the Czech Republic back in November 2014.
Iceland have a number of familiar faces in their squad, with former Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson set to start up front, while ex-Heerenveen striker Alfred Finnbogason and former-AZ winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson are also in with a chance of playing. All will be hoping to make their mark in Thursday’s mouth watering encounter.
Iceland midfielder Emil Hallfredsson is out having picked up a muscle tear in Verona’s 2-0 defeat of Genoa earlier this week.
Blind’s son Daley is set to start at his favoured left-back position replacing the injured Jetro Willems, whilst the experienced Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Luuk De Jong are set to battle it out for a place in the starting 11.
Netherlands 4-3-3: Cillessen; Van der Wiel, Blind, De Vrij, Martins Indi; De Jong, Sneijder, Wijnaldum; Depay, Robben, Van Persie.
Iceland 4-3-2-1: Halldorsson; B Bjarnason, Skulason, Sigurdsson, Gislason; Gunnarsson, Sigurosson, T Bjarnason; Gudmundsson, Boovarsson; Sigthorsson.
Milorad Mazic (Serbia)
Netherlands 2-1 Iceland
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