This fixture sounds like it could be a World Cup Quarter or Semi-Final but the reality is neither of these sides will be in Russia this summer and both are very much living off past glories. Both sides suffered embarrassment in qualifying with Sweden finishing above the Dutch in their group before knocking Italy out in a play-off.
You sense those outcomes were more the result of the fall from grace these two proud football nations have suffered in recent years rather than any real Swedish brilliance. A quick look through the squads both sides have named for this friendly and it’s hard not to be struck by the lack of genuine top quality in each camp.
The Dutch have been hit by the recent retirements of the likes of Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder and there is a distinct lack of emerging talent in a country that has always flourished in that regard. Ajax’s 18 year old defender Matthijs de Ligt is certainly one to keep an eye on but at even at this point when they clearly need to look to the future, there is only one other play under the age of 23 in this squad.
Italy have been a bit bolder in terms of throwing younger players into these friendlies but Roberto Mancini’s squad isn’t a particularly exciting one either. Only the recalled Mario Balotelli has scored more than 6 international goals while fellow forwards Lorenzo Insigne and Simone Zaza both have very poor records at this level.
The midfield is very inexperienced with only Alessandro Florenzi having made it past 10 caps while more proven performers such as Marco Verratti and Giorgio Chiellini aren’t involved so it’s hard to really feel confident about this Italian team. They’ve already played twice during this international break and they didn’t really impress in either of those games. They edged out a fairly average Saudi Arabia side 2-1 before being well beaten in France and it’s now just 2 wins in 8 internationals for Italy.
The Netherlands have at least had a bit longer to get used to the idea that they are no longer footballing giants at least in terms of their current talent pool. They’ve only lost 1 of their last 8 internationals, a 1-0 loss to England in Amsterdam and it’s worth noting they did impressively win 3-0 in Portugal in March.
They may lack the creativity of yesteryear but they have plenty of pace up front with the likes of Memphis Depay and this game may just suit them as it should allow them to play on the counter.
Overall backing Netherlands Double Chance could well be the way to go.
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This is the fifth friendly meeting between these sides in the space of 9 years. Italy have won the last 2 while there were 2 draws. The Dutch won the last competitive clash, a 3-0 win at Euro 2008.
Italy are likely to rotate following a 3-1 loss to France. Alessandro Florenzi and Giacomo Bonaventura could return to bolster the midfield.
The Dutch are likely to name a stronger team here than they did in Slovakia. Liverpool duo Virgil van Dijk and Georginio Wijnaldum are likely to return to the eleven having been rested in that game following Champions League Final action.