England’s Nations League campaign gets back underway against Netherlands next week, with both teams vying to secure a place in the inaugural final.
Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are looking for their first tournament success since the 1966 World Cup, but come up against a Dutch side rejuvenated under the guidance of national team legend Ronald Koeman.
Many of the squad are familiar to England, both players and fans alike, with Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum among those who have shone under the former Everton boss.
The Dutch possess a number of matchwinners, and will provide formidable opposition – we here at 90min thought we’d reveal some of their most dangerous stars.
Virgil van Dijk
Fresh from Champions League victory with Liverpool, Virgil van Dijk will be hoping to keep Harry Kane quiet for a second game running.
The 27-year-old defender has erased the Reds’ defensive worries since his £75m move from Southampton last January., and is widely regarded as one of the best central defenders in the world.
His colossal presence, along with his leadership skills, make him a nuisance to deal with at set pieces – meaning England have a whole lot more to worry about than trying to get past him.
Frenkie de Jong
Frenkie de Jong is one of the hottest properties in Europe right now, and his status in the game will be enhanced further once he arrives at Barcelona this summer.
Costing €75m, his effortless talent on the ball, composure and vision befit a footballer far more experienced than the 22-year-old – with his performances for Ajax this season helping the Eredivisie giants reach the Champions League semi-final.
He’ll look to dictate terms against England, and will be one to keep a close eye on throughout the 90 minutes.
Donny van de Beek
Donny van de Beek often grabbed the headlines during Ajax’s Champions League campaign, scoring four goals throughout the qualifying and competition stages.
The attacking-midfielder had a superb season overall, registering 17 goals and 13 assists in 57 appearances this season.
He also made his international debut for Netherlands, picking up five caps over the course of the season. Filling in the gaps between midfield and attack, Van de Beek will look to pick up the ball in space before running on past Memphis Depay up top.
Back in the limelight, back in the Premier League…..and back in favour for the Dutch national side!
Perhaps not what Ryan Babel would have expected to happen, but that’s the path that his up and down career has taken over the past six months.
Though he was unable to keep Fulham in the Premier League, Babel did remind us of his qualities on the wing – chipping in with a few goals and generally impressing in west London. He’s been pretty good on the international stage, too, and is a dangerous opponent to come up against.
Former Manchester United forward Memphis Depay has excelled at Olympique Lyonnais since his £14.4m arrival in January 2017.
The 25-year-old scored 12 goals and set up a further 16 goals for his teammates last season, and his ability to play anywhere across the line is a valuable asset to have – for both club and country.
Memphis tends to play through the middle for the Dutch, and will hope that his blistering pace can expose England’s central defenders. Don’t be surprised, though, if he intertwines with Babel and finds himself cutting in from the wings at pace.