The second round of group stage action gets under way at the 2022 FIFA World Cup as the Netherlands take on Ecuador in Group A.
Both sides are coming off comprehensive 2-0 victories in their first games, with the Netherlands taking down Senegal and Ecuador downing hosts Qatar.
It was more elementary for Ecuador who dominated the opener and got a brace from in-form striker Enner Valencia. The Netherlands, meanwhile, were nervy against Senegal, but managed to pull out a pair of goals late courtesy of Cody Gakpo and Davy Klaasen.
With both teams tied atop the group, this match will go a long way towards not only determining which side will qualify, but also who will top the group, a vitally important distinction for obtaining a softer draw in the Round of 16.
Date, kick-off time and venue
|Photo: Getty Images
Netherlands vs Ecuador is scheduled for a 4pm GMT kick-off on Friday, November 25, 2022.
The Khalifa International Stadium in Qatar will host the match.
Netherlands had to be patient against Senegal on Monday, as it did appear that the points were going to be shared in their opening match, with the two teams level at 0-0 heading towards the final whistle.
Cody Gakpo sent Holland ahead in the 84th minute of the contest, though, before Davy Klaassen secured the points in the ninth minute of added time at the end of the 90, with Van Gaal’s side making the perfect start to their Group A campaign.
Netherlands will face Ecuador on Friday before rounding off their group stage against the hosts Qatar next Tuesday, and it will be fascinating to see what this group of players can achieve in the tournament, as Holland have impressed in their last two World Cups.
The national team, who have never won the World Cup, were absent from the finals back in 2018, but they reached the final of the 2010 competition before finishing third in 2014.
Should Van Gaal’s side manage to win Group A, they would take on the runner-up from Group B in the last-16 stage of the competition, which could be England, Wales, the USA or Iran.
Netherlands will not be looking too far ahead at this stage, though, especially ahead of a contest with a talented Ecuador outfit, who proved to be too strong for the hosts in the opening match on Sunday.
Enner Valencia scored both goals against Qatar, with the former West Ham United forward netting from the penalty spot in the 16th minute before making it 2-0 in the 31st minute.
Ecuador now have their toughest two games in the section, facing Netherlands on Friday before taking on Senegal next Tuesday, and the latter will be desperate to bounce back from their loss to Holland.
La Tricolor did not qualify for the 2018 World Cup, but they were present at the 2014 competition, being eliminated in the group stage, while their best-ever performance came in 2006, with the tournament seeing them advance to the last-16 stage before losing to England.
There had been some doubt over Ecuador’s spot in Qatar, with Chile and Peru lodging appeals due to the involvement of Byron Castillo during the qualification fixtures, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport agreed with FIFA in saying that the 23-year-old was able to represent the national side.
Ecuador secured their spot in the finals by finishing fourth in their South American qualification campaign, picking up 26 points from 18 matches.
La Tri only lost one of their last seven matches in the qualification phase, with the run including 1-1 draws with Brazil and Argentina, which is an indication of their credentials, and they will certainly be confident of putting another victory on the board in this match.
Netherlands vs Ecuador team news
Memphis Depay is being brought along slowly by Van Gaal after recovering from injury, and could be in line for greater time on the pitch after a short cameo against Senegal. Denzel Dumfries was sufficiently fit to start that game, and should again begin at right wing-back.
Ecuador fans would have feared the worst when Enner Valencia was forced off in the 75th minute after scoring twice against Qatar, but Gustavo Alfaro insisted after the game that there was “no doubt” his captain would play against the Netherlands despite an ankle sprain.
Netherlands vs Ecuador prediction
Score prediction: Netherlands 1-0
Ecuador as a team are fairly very similar to Senegal, but with a better central striker. Still, it will be very difficult for the South American side to find a way through the best team in Group A to secure a result.
Both teams have an inside track towards qualification, and victory by either side would officially confirm a place in the knockout stage.