Wales v Netherlands
Wednesday 8 June, 19:45
Live on Box Nation
Joyous Welsh will need to regain focus
They've done it! They've only bloody gone and done it! Yes, for the first time since a 17-year-old Pele scored against them in the 1958 quarter-finals, Wales are heading to the World Cup!
What a night it was in Cardiff on Sunday as the Welsh celebrated the end of a 64-year wait that, at times, had seemed an unbreakable jinx.
Inevitably, Gareth Bale was involved in the decisive moment against Ukraine as his thumping free-kick from an unfavourable angle was headed past his own goalkeeper by the unfortunate Andriy Yarmolenko.
That was the latest - and most spectacular - reminder that Wales are a real force on their own patch. But after such an intoxicating high can they get their focus back for a match that is way less significant?
Wales have already lost the first match in their four-team Nations League group after a much-changed side (they were saving the big stars for the Ukraine match) were defeated 2-1 in Poland.
To be fair, that was a decent display. Jonny Williams put the Welsh in front with an excellent strike early in the second half but two Polish goals in the final 18 minutes changed the course of the tie.
Wales are certainly mixing with the elite in this group (A4) as their other two opponents are Netherlands and Belgium. The Dutch were runners-up in the inaugural Nations League while the Belgians are 2nd in the FIFA World Rankings.
That said, games against top sides are ideal practice for what might come in the World Cup so Welsh boss Robert Page will be determined that his side give this one their full attention - even if there's a temptation to breathe out a little after the high of Sunday.
Netherlands off to a flyer
The vast majority of Welsh fans won't have been paying any attention to how the Dutch were getting on against Belgium in their opening Nations League game.
That was in Brussels on Friday so did the Belgians make home advantage tell and show why they're higher in the world rankings?
Not a bit of it. This was quite a night for the men in orange as they smashed Belgium 4-1 to jump to the top of the group.
Tottenham's Steven Bergwijn blasted home the opener five minutes before the break and in a devastating second-half spell, two goals from Memphis Depay and another from Denzel Dumfries put Netherlands 4-0 in front.
Michy Batshuay headed home a consolation for the hosts but this was an eye-popping result, one that caused the home fans to boo Belgium off.
The Netherlands clearly enjoy this tournament having won it in 2019 and if Wales aren't on the ball, Louis van Gaal's men could make them pay.
On the team news front, Virgil van Dijk is being given a break as the Dutch look to continue their excellent run of seven wins and three draws since being eliminated from last summer's Euros.
Dutch hot favourites but Cardiff is a fortress
After that big victory in Brussels, it's easy to see why Netherlands are hot 1.574/7 favourites to make it two wins out of two.
But let's not forget just how strong Wales are in Cardiff.
Page's men haven't lost there since 2018, are 19 games unbeaten and have conceded just seven times in that run, keeping 12 clean sheets.
Wales are 7.26/1 to get the win while The Draw is 4.3100/30.
There are three good reasons to think the visitors will prove too strong: their own form, the idea that Wales will come down from Sunday's high and a head-to-head record which shows eight wins on the bounce for the Dutch.
But special things happen in Cardiff and I'm reluctant to back the away side at that price.
I'll look elsewhere for the best bet.
Depay can get on the scoresheet again
Memphis Depay has been in stunning form for the Netherlands since March 2021, scoring 20 goals in his last 17 internationals.
His tally of six in the Nations League includes goals in each of his latest three appearances in the tournament.
The 11/2 (Sportsbook) for two or more could appeal given that he's managed it seven times during that run of 17 games.
But I'll keep it simple and back Depay at 2.3611/8 to score anytime.
For the hosts, the big guns may be rested once more (Wales play again on Saturday and Tuesday) but Brennan Johnson was a lively presence when coming on against Ukraine and hit the post late on.
He's yet to score for the national team but a goal looks imminent and the 6.25/1 is worth a look.
Johnson scored in both legs of Nottingham Forest's playoff semi-final against Sheffield United.
On the Bet Builder, both Depay and Johnson to score pays around 12.011/1.
Back to the exchange and Both teams to Score trades at 2.1411/10 which seems a decent bet while Over 2.5 Goals is also the underdog at 2.021/1.
Netherlands are unbeaten in their 10 games across all competitions since Louis van Gaal returned as manager (W7 D3). The last time they had a longer run of games without defeat was between 2012 and 2013, when they went 17 games unbeaten - also under van Gaal.