France welcome Louis van Gaal’s Netherlands side to the Stade de France hoping to exercise their World Cup credentials after they narrowly avoided missing out on Brazil 2014 thanks to a fine 3-0 win over Ukraine in the World Cup playoff second leg.
Karim Benzema’s offside strike sandwiched in between two Mamadou Sakho goals helped Didier Deschamps’ men become the first team ever to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit, and although they have not played since that famous night in Paris, they will fancy their chances of securing a morale-boosting victory over a Holland side that have drawn their last two friendlies.
However, Van Gaal’s side will also view this game as an opportunity to lay down a marker ahead of this year’s World Cup after their humiliating exit at Euro 2012, which saw them lose all three group games despite starting the tournament as one of the favourites to win it.
They recovered well to qualify effortlessly for Brazil 2014, winning nine and drawing one of their 10 qualifying matches as they topped Group D.
Previous meetings between these two countries have offered a mixed bag in terms of entertainment, with the last five meetings yielding 13 goals but also two 0-0 stalemates.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 8pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
2008: Holland (Kuyt, Van Persie, Robben, Sneijder) 4-1 France (Henry), Euro 2008 finals
2004: Holland 0-0 France, Rotterdam, International Friendly
2000: Holland (Kluivert, De Boer, Zenden) 3-2 France (Dugarry, Trezeguet), Amsterdam Arena, Euro 200 qualfiers
France became the first team ever to overturn a 2-0 first-leg deficit in World Cup playoff history after they beat 10-man Ukraine 3-0 in Paris in November
Holland have twice prevailed over France in two of their three previous meetings, both competitively. They won 3-2 in the 2000 European Championship qualifiers, as well as a thumping 4-1 victory in the 2008 Finals.
France have won all 16 of the encounters in which frontman Karim Benzema has netted
France have now qualified for the last five global tournaments, dating back to their failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup Finals in the USA.
France to win: 2.3
Netherlands to win: 3.0