World Cup 2022; Netherlands vs Ecuador.

The stars in the first two games of this tournament, Enner Valencia of Ecuador and Cody Gakpo of Netherlands both shone brightly for their teams as they went on to get maximum three points, in this game, both nations will have at the back of their minds that another win means qualification for knockout football, how huge that sounds. Holland managed by Louis Van Gaal said he took the job because “No one else wanted it” and has gone on to make his team the type that no one wants to play against. 

Just one draw in their last seven games with six wins including the 4-1 demolition of Belgium and most recently 2-0 win against African Champions, the Dutch team is looking unbeatable. Records show that they’ve faced Ecuador twice winning one and playing out a 1-1 draw back in 2014. The books still show that they know how to face South American nations at the World Cup, they proved so in 2010 when they knocked out Brazil, Uruguay and went on to clinch bronze over Brazil in the next edition, overall, the Netherlands seldom lose to teams from the South American continent as they remain unbeaten coming into this competition.

What’s the secret? No secret to be honest, just a crop of fine players well coach by one of the most experienced managers in world football. 

Ecuador on the other hand have a team yet to concede a single goal in their last seven games, winning three and drawing four, unbeaten coming into Qatar, first big test for me will come when they face this hardworking Netherlands side who play the game according to how they want and dictate the pace with midfielders like Frenkie De Jong who possesses world class ability to win games as we saw with his assist in the first game against Senegal. I expected the coach to start Teun Koopmeinersor Marten De Roon with Frenkie in midfield just to give that ball winning option but he opted for a more attacking option in Steven Berghuis against highly rated Senegal, I’d expect him to do same in this game as Van Gaal seldom chances his tactics and players selection. Piero Hincapie and Felix Torres in center back have a solid relationship of keeping opposition strikers out, how they perform against Vincent Janssen will be key to what result they get from the European heavyweights.


Injury denied Memphis Depay a start on the opening day; he’d most likely start with Janssen while Denzel Dumfries and Daley Blind orchestrate things from deep as wing backs high up the pitch in Van Gaal’s preferred 3-5-2 formation. They also have Wout Weghorst in contention to start as the big striker is one who can cause the Ecuadorians problems in defense. Amongst all, the Dutch do not have that poacher, the forwards aren’t really prolific hence attacking midfielders like Gakpo and Davy Klaassen got the goals in the first game. 

It will be interesting to see how Gustavo Julio Alfaro will approach this tie, does he go in with the mind of earning a draw or will he throw caution to the wind and play attacking football? It will be an unwise thing to do because I believe he knows his boys cannot match the Netherlands man for man talent wise.

Memphis Depay looks like the big name for this game for me, his experience and the fact that he’s the most prolific forward in the team will go all long way. Full backs Pervis Estupinan and Angelo Preciado will be heavily tested and look like they might slip up on one or two occasions this time, there are so many creative players for the Dutch that can unlock Ecuador’s defense and indeed, I think they’d get their reward if they keep pressing, just like it happened against Senegal, champions never give up, they keep coming at opponents till the final whistle and I suggest that’s the mentality they bring into this one.

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Finally, Ecuador’s hopes lie on Brighton & Hove Albion youngster Moises Caicedo in midfield, himself and Gonzalo Plata will be looking to linkup play with star man Valencia in a game destined to be their biggest test in the last two years. I do not believe the South Americans have what it takes to beat the 1988 European champions, they can exploit the sloppiness of Daley Blind and Nathan Ake, they should be looking to test Andries Noppert from distance as question marks still lie over the head of the SC Heerenveen goalkeeper with huge responsibilities of being number one in a massive competition like the world cup.

PREDICTION by Charles.E. Ofili


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