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Iceland vs Netherlands: Match Preview

Guus Hiddink

Netherlands will look to claim their second win in the European Championship qualifiers when they travel to face group leaders Iceland on Monday.

Guus Hiddink’s side had to come from behind to see off a tenacious Kazakhstan side 3-1 on Friday night and make it three points from the opening two games for Netherlands. If the Dutch are to top group A then they must avoid another slip up in Reykjavic on Monday. However Netherlands will come up against a confident and dangerous Iceland side, who currently sit top of the group after 3-0 wins over both Turkey and Latvia.

After the win over Kazakhstan, Hiddink has a number of issues to address in his side, with many supporters now calling for Klaas jan Huntelaar to start after his goal from the bench on Friday, even if it means dropping out of form captain Robin van Persie, while after another big mistake Bruno Martins Indi’s place in the back four must come under threat. Whether Hiddink makes the changes that the fans wan’t though is another question, with Netherlands not expected to make any changes.

PSV Eindhoven midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul have withdrawn from the squad through injury, while Stoke City left back Erik Pieters has been dropped. Feyenoord goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer has been brought in to the squad.

Coached by Swede Lars Lagerback, Iceland have won their last three matches, and came close to qualifying for last summer’s World Cup, but eventually lost 2-0 to Croatia in a play-off. Iceland haven’t lost a competitive match at home since a 4-2 defeat to Slovakia in June last year.

Iceland have a number of familiar faces in their squad, with Ajax striker Kolbeinn Sigthorsson set to start up front, while ex-Heerenveen striker Alfred Finnbogason, and ex-AZ winger Johann Berg Gudmundsson are also in with a chance of playing.

Netherlands have a great record against Iceland, and have never lost in 10 previous encounters. Iceland have only ever managed one draw with the Dutch and that was back in 1982. The last meetings were during qualifying for the 2010 World Cup with Netherlands winning 2-0 at home, and 2-1 in Iceland.

Netherlands struggled to break down a stubborn Kazakhstan side that played behind the ball at all times on Friday, but the game in Iceland should be different. The hosts will try and attack Netherlands, and playing on the counter attack is when the Dutch are at their most dangerous with the pace of Arjen Robben, and Jeremain Lens a massive weapon for Hiddink. Kolbeinn Sigthorsson is in great form for Iceland, but if Netherlands defence can stay solid at all times, then Netherlands should be able to come away with a win that would be a huge boost in the quest to top Group A.

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