With the new UEFA Nations League making its debut this year, there is a new route open to all 55 countries in order to qualify for the 2020 European Championship.
France take on Netherlands in the second round of League A with the World Cup winners hoping that they can qualify seamlessly by progressing via the Nations League.
After Didier Deschamps’ disappointing 0-0 opening game against Germany, fans will be hoping Les Bleus can replicate the form and style shown in the World Cup in their second match of the tournament against Holland. For Ronald Koeman’s team, they come into this by overcoming Peru in a convincing manner thanks to Memphis Depay.
With complacency perhaps setting into this France squad and Netherlands with the bit between their teeth with a point to prove, this game is going to be electric.
Although France ended their opening match with a scoreless draw, it’s highly unlikely that Deschamps will let that go on. A more attacking approach will be made by the French manager and with home advantage - and a very noisy France crowd - the players should be uplifted by the spirits in the stands and become more aggressive going forward.
Netherlands, too, have shown that they can go and take their chances. Two well-taken goals by Memphis, who is playing as a centre forward in Koeman’s system, shows that he is in a rich vein of form and reproducing his performances for his country that he has showed for Lyon in the past 12 months.
He might have struggled at Manchester United, but ever since moving to France and being given the time to grow, the Dutch forward has been a pillar of success for Bruno Génésio.
Koeman needs to get this Dutch side firing and on the supporters in his corner. With having not qualified for the World Cup, Holland’s fans have seen five matches played under the former Everton boss, with his record reading: W2, D2, L1. Not bad, but a thrilling performance against the reigning world champions will inspire his nation and will allow those Dutch supporters to become optimistic about a bright future.
With that being said, France and the Netherlands should muster up over 2.5 goals on Sunday evening, given that bet has come in three times in their last four fixtures. Betway have them priced at 7/10 to do so, while Paddy Power has offered that selection at 4/6.
Another bet that is likely to produce winnings is both teams to score, which Betway have given to pundits at 17/20. Both countries are set to go toe-to-toe with one another under the lights in what will be a vibrant atmosphere. Let the goals rain in!
After such a stellar World Cup tournament in which the Paris Saint-Germain star scored four goals, Mbappé will be hoping to emulate that form throughout the season for both club and country.
He might have had a quiet return to international duty against Germany, but with his home supporters filling out a packed 81,000-capacity Stade de France, Mbappé will step into the limelight as he has done before and take France forward.
To no one’s surprise, Mbappé has already found the back of the net on three occasions in four appearances since the start of the Ligue 1 campaign. The Frenchman is not resting on his laurels and is chasing greatness by the looks of things, having made sure no complacency is creeping into his own game for both PSG and France.
The 19-year-old is the present and future of French football and his World Cup showed exactly why that is. In his first major tournament, Mbappé exceeded what was expected of him and even managed to score in the final against Croatia.
A truly once-in-a-generation talent, the former Monaco starlet has all the tools in his locker to take over from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s dominant era. He has his eyes firmly on overshadowing teammate Neymar Jr. this season, even if that’s not something he’ll want to admit in public.
William Hill have Mbappé down at an enticing 12/5 to become the first home goalscorer of the match. With the attacker playing on the right wing and stretching Holland’s left back, Mbappé is going to have chances come his way in which he will find the net.
Les Bleus haven’t lost this match up since 2008 and have won each of their four encounters since then. For a decade now, France have been the better and stronger nation, but Netherlands are on the rise back to the top and so this fixture should provide great entertainment.
But due to this being played at the Stade de France, packed full of French supporters in their first home game since their second World Cup triumph, Deschamps’ men will be in the mood to put on a spectacle and make sure they secure the win.
While the UEFA Nations League has not yet taken off, France will not just sit back like they did against Germany and hope for a draw. They will want to go out and punish Holland and send a message.