Netherlands v Ecuador
The Netherlands looked slightly out of sorts in Monday’s opening game against Senegal, and it came almost as a surprise when they grabbed two late goals to give a largely lifeless match an overdue flourish. Apart from three barely deserved points one real plus was that star striker Memphis Depay got half an hour of game time to show his fitness, and he will need to be firing if the Dutch are to go deep in the tournament.
Of the four teams in Group A, Ecuador looked the most assured in their opening game, albeit against a woefully poor Qatari team. Deprived by VAR of a quick opener, captain Enner Valencia still bagged a first-half brace, and from then on, Ecuador were in cruise control for the entire game, restricting Qatar to just three brief touches in their penalty area.
With all three major nations also likely to turn Qatar over, Ecuador’s World Cup begins in this game. They should not be too concerned by what they saw the Dutch produce against Senegal, and they have their own weapons to use going forward. That said, Netherlands are unlikely to play so tentatively two games running, and if Depay starts, then Ecuador’s defenders will be tested much more severely than they were on Sunday.
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