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International Friendlies: Portugal v Netherlands: A Combined XI

Monday 26th March 2018

Portugal after beating the Pharaohs in their last match are set to face the inexperienced Dutch side. It was clearly visible in their last match against England that the Netherlands lack an imposing figure on the field.  Even though Ronald Koeman has turned on the speculation by recalling Robin van Persie, the exclusion of the likes of van Persie, Robben and Sneijder has struck the Dutch national side hard. After being ousted from the upcoming World Cup, it remains to be seen what Koeman has to bring with the 2020 Euro Championships and 2022 World Cup in mind. Fernando Santos’ Portugal, on the other hand, are unbeaten since their defeat against Sweden on 28th March 2017. Let’s see who turns out to be a hero when both the teams clash against each other at Geneva today.

Here’s a combined XI (4-3-3) comprising both experienced and emerging players from both the camps. Only players fit and available for selection are considered.

Goalkeeper: Rui Patricio

The Sporting CP shot-stopper has been a constant for his national side as well as his club ever since his teenage. Patricio has kept seven clean-sheets in 10 World Cup Qualifiers conceding only four goals. Santos would preferably pick Patricio after Beto performed poorly a couple of days back. The Lions vice-captain was named the Best Goalkeeper in their victorious Euro 2016 campaign.

Right-back: Timothy Fosu-Mensah

The 20-year-old won't be happy with his club’s decision to send him out on loan for this season to a club that is fighting relegation. Fosu-Mensah had a decent season at the Selhurst Park. His raw pace and invaluable defending technique make him one of the most promising players in Britain. After a poor performance by his Southampton counterpart in the last match and the absence of Blaugrana’s Nelson Semedo makes him the undisputed choice for this position. The Dutch prodigy would be delighted to compete with the United skipper Antonio Valencia to find the right-back place in the upcoming season.

Centre-backs: Virgil van Dijk, Stefan de Vrij

The pair will form a rigid defence to pass through to find Patricio’s net. The Portuguese veterans- Rolando and Bruno Alves are certainly passed their prime. Even young Matthijs de Ligt fails to find a place here, mainly due to lack of experience.

After a shaky start of his supposedly-long career at Anfield, the former Southampton centre-back has started proving his worth at Merseyside. The Dutch skipper is a very agile defender with a great vision. His ability to hold possession in the defensive half and put high pressure when defending is an asset at Jurgen Klopp’s disposal.

Stefan de Vrij has started all but two games for Lazio in Serie A this season. He has unswervingly performed week-in and week-out for the Biancocelesti. And has played a significant role in their Europa League run. De Vrij was named among the best defenders in the 2014 World Cup. As the Dutchman will not be seen in Russia, we wait to see what he has in his armoury for the Euro 2020 and later in Qatar. 

Left-back: Raphael Guerreiro

The French-turned-Portuguese may not have started a good number of matches for his club, but has been undoubtedly consistent for his national side. Ever since the victorious 2016 Euro campaign, he has been a first-choice player for Santos. Guerreiro was named in the UEFA Team of the Tournament during the Euro 16.

Midfielders: Kevin Strootman, William Carvalho, Bruno Fernandes

Carvalho has been beyond perfect for Sporting this season. His dribbling and defending attributes and accurate through balls find him a spot here. Joao Mario, with lack of game-time under Luciano Spalletti, has been highly inconsistent this season. The young Ruben Neves has been a boon to the Championship leaders but needs more competitive exposure. The Sporting skipper has managed an 89% pass completion rate and 1.8 tackles per 90 across competitions.

Bruno Fernandes has featured in every Sporting game except one league match. He is red hot form taking his side to Europa quarter-finals. Fernandes was involved six out of nine goals for his club in just four matches in the UEL. The 23-year-old has scored 22 goals and assisted nine in both Europe and Portugal. Also, he has an outstanding defending record managing two successful tackles per game.

Strootman is a dynamic midfielder with great a wide range of skills. He is a very intelligent player with great awareness and modern techniques. There is no individual in both the camps to compete with the Dutch veteran to play the role of a box-to-box midfielder. His ability to create chances by through balls and long balls sum up an add-on role to the Roma midfielder.

Right-winger: Bernardo Silva

Bernardo has been thriving at the Etihad in 2018. The injury to Leroy Sane in January proved to be a blessing in disguise for Silva in the Sky Blues’ camp. Though Gelson Martins has been satisfactory for the Portuguese capital side, Bernardo is more tenacious.

Left-winger: Memphis Depay

The former Manchester United winger was slightly off-track until this season since his departure from Old Trafford. Depay was the best performer for the Oranjes in their last match against the Three Lions. The emergence of Justin Kluivert has been phenomenal. But only in few seasons time, he can be put in contention with the Les Gones star.

Striker: Cristiano Ronaldo

It would be a mortal sin not to pick the greatest European footballer ever. The all-time Portugal highest goal-scorer was again on the mark in their last match to spoil the Egyptian dream with two injury-time headers. Ronaldo has scored the most number of goals in 2018- 21 goals in just 14 matches for the Los Blancos.

Harsh Vardhan

A pilot in the making residing in India, Harsh is also an ardent follower of European football and his heart resides in Manchester, particularly the blues. He has deep passion for writing, with special admiration for combined-elevens, while also contributing to the sports column of a local daily.

Total articles: 67

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