Holland boss Ronald Koeman knows his side can make a big statement by following up victory over Germany with a toppling of world champions France.
After failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia, Holland put themselves back among the big boys with last month’s 3-0 victory over their great rivals in Amsterdam.
That followed a narrow loss to France, who they face in Rotterdam on Friday, in their opening Nations League game.
Progress is undoubtedly being made under Koeman, who replaced Dick Advocaat in February, and he said at a press conference of his side’s step forward: “That is certainly true if you defeat France after Germany.
“We have to focus on our competition, because we still have a young team. And the development of these young players will play an important role for this Dutch team.
“A young team needs more experience, but the balance in the team is good. The next step is when we know how to qualify for the European Championships.”
Holland pushed France hard at the Stade de France in September, with Ryan Babel cancelling out Kylian Mbappe’s opener before Olivier Giroud scored the winner.
But Koeman feels Didier Deschamps’ side may be more dangerous on the road, saying: “France plays very compact, which is one of the reasons why they have become world champions.
“We want to dominate the game, but they have a few players with lots of individual qualities. They have a lot of speed up front, so their biggest asset is the counter-attack. That is why it will probably be more difficult tomorrow than in Paris.”
Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum spoke of how the atmosphere in the squad has changed thanks to their improved results.
“I have always felt comfortable with the Dutch national team, but if you do not get results, the atmosphere is automatically reduced,” he said.
“It was not that it was not right between the players, but the feeling was just different. We are aware that it can also change again. We therefore train hard and continue to do our best.”
France only need a point to qualify for the inaugural Nations League Finals next summer but are without a number of players, including Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial and Alexandre Lacazette.
Everton full-back Lucas Digne is set to start while Steven Nzonzi could come into midfield.
Midfielder Blaise Matuidi said of the clash at a press conference: “I think we have to defend well. Netherlands scored three goals against Germany. They have many qualities, especially defensively. We have to be good in every aspect.”
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