International football returns on Friday as the Netherlands welcome England to the Amsterdam Arena. Ben Levene (@BenLevene96) shares his best bets.
Netherlands v England | Friday 23rd March 2018, 19:45 | ITV
England continue their preparation for this summer’s World Cup with a trip to Holland this Friday before hosting Italy on Tuesday. With places still up for grabs, Gareth Southgate will likely experiment over the next week.
Where better to start than the goalkeeping conundrum? With Joe Hart out of favour domestically, he may consider himself lucky to have received the call for the next seven days. Jordan Pickford and Jack Butland will continue to stake their claims, and they’ll be joined by Nick Pope who’s hot on their heels.
Pope’s Burnley teammate James Tarkowski was too awarded his maiden call-up, with Lewis Cook keeping his place in the squad after November’s international break.
Harry Kane is absent after the ankle knock picked up against Bournemouth, and Ryan Bertrand and Jack Wilshere both miss out through injury.
Back in November, England drew 0-0 in friendlies at home to both Germany and Brazil. Southgate’s Three-Lions were valiant in both displays, despite fielding relatively inexperienced sides.
England look set to operate with a back-three this time around, with rumours circulating that Eric Dier could start at the heart of the defence, wearing the armband.
Although they won’t be in Russia this summer, Holland still possess quite the incentive. It’s their first game under new boss Ronald Koeman.
The Netherlands missed out on qualification after finishing behind France and Sweden in their group.
This is no vintage Dutch side by any means, but they won’t be rollovers. They’ve won eight of their last nine and beat England at Wembley back in March 2016.
England can impress
Although I think Koeman will have his side organised and well-drilled, I’m keen to side with England here.
Since Euro 2016 they’ve drawn friendlies at home to Spain, Germany and Brazil, losing by just the single goal in Germany and France. Southgate’s side put in pretty good displays in each of those.
I think the Three Lions are suited to games where the onus is on the opposition, and given Koeman’s style in the Premier League, this game could play into England’s hands. Factor in the added incentive with places up for grabs and the fast-approaching World Cup opener on June 18, and we have a decent edge to go with.
Netherlands v England – England draw no bet (31/25 Marathon)