The second round of fixtures in Group A starts today as the Netherlands face Ecuador. At the Khalifa International Stadium, the two winning teams in their respective opening game go head to head. Both teams fancy their chances of making it out of the group after securing an important win.
In the FIFA rankings, Netherlands are ranked eighth after rebuilding their squad under the tutelage of Luis Van Gaal, whilst Ecuador are placed in 44th place. The last time that these two sides played each other was in a friendly game, which ended in a one-all draw.
It was late drama that secured the three points for the Dutch National team against Senegal. Cody Gakpo got the opening goal after latching onto the ball before Edouard Mendy. Klaassen doubled the lead late on, as Senegal pushed forward to try and salvage a late equaliser, leaving themselves exposed at the back. Despite the scoreline, the game was balanced, with not much action for either keeper; as a matter of fact, Senegal had more shots on target (four) than the Netherlands (three).
The Netherlands look like a very solid team defensively but are yet to find the perfect balance when they go on the attacking front. Memphis Depay came on at the hour mark in place of Vincent Janssen, and that is when the Netherlands really piled the pressure on the Senegalese. It will be interesting to see how the possession-based game plan that the Dutch has employed will work out against the high-tempo pressing that Ecuador play.
A great performance from Ecuador against Qatar secured the points, and now they prepare for the all-important game against the Netherlands. Eder Valencia showed his class on the pitch with his awareness and instinct to know where the ball was going to drop for the second goal. Going forward, the Ecuadorian hopes heavily rely on the fitness of Valencia.
Gustavo Alfaro will hope to get something out of this game to keep them on level terms till the end of the game. It will be a tough ask to maintain the high levels of energy that they showed against Qatar, which have been fueled by the occasion.
Match betting odds
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*Odds subject to change. Odds correct at time of publishing