France v Netherlands
Thursday 31 August, 19:45
Live in Sky Sports Football
A bad choice in Badalona last night, as our selection Elche won their Copa del Rey tie, but only after a penalty shootout. The 2-2 draw that preceded it was no good to us, and we move on.
A bit of World Cup glamour awaits us this evening, as France take on the Netherlands in Paris. A late error from Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris gifted Sweden a late winner against Les Bleus in the last set of qualifiers, and now the Swedes are level on points with Didier Deschamps' side, with the Dutch three points behind.
Having missed out on qualifying for EURO 2016, the Dutch are once again in serious danger of failing to qualify for a major tournament. Coach Danny Blind paid the price for a series of poor results, and his replacement Dick Advocaat has taken the helm for the third time. He has led his side to a 5-0 WCQ win over Luxembourg, and comprehensive friendly wins over Morocco and Ivory Coast.
However, this is the first big test for the Oranje since Advocaat took charge, and there are big concerns over the team's defensive capabilities. They have kept just one clean sheet in qualifying, and tonight they'll be without Virgil van Dijk, Jeffrey Bruma and Rick Karsdorp. Veteran Robin van Persie has been restored to the squad, but it would be a surprise if he started.
The French have a frightening array of talent, with plenty of big decisions for Didier Deschamps to make. Olivier Giroud may well be given the nod to spearhead the attack, with Antoine Griezmann in support. Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante will look to win the midfield battle. It says a lot that Barcelona's new mega-money signing Ousmane Dembele hasn't made the squad, and PSG target Kylian Mbappe isn't likely to start.
France have won both home qualifiers so far, beating Bulgaria 4-1 and Sweden 2-1. In their last two friendlies in Paris, they beat England 3-2 and thrashed Paraguay 5-0. This is a high-pressure match, but I think France have the quality to take advantage of a Dutch team that has lurched from problem to problem since Louis van Gaal stepped down in 2014. The Netherlands lost three of their five away qualifiers for the Euros, and in this campaign they lost 2-0 in Bulgaria and were held to a 1-1 draw in Sweden. The French have won their last three games against the Dutch, and I believe that sequence will be extended.
Recommended Bet
Back France -1.0 on the Asian Handicap at 2.02

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