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Netherlands are fancied by some to go the distance at the World Cup 2022, which would cap a remarkable turnaround for the Oranje after they failed to even qualify four years ago.
They begin their quest for glory against African Nations champions Senegal on Monday, with the Lions of Teranga being hit ahead of the opening fixtures with the news Sadio Mane is out of the tournament.
Louis van Gaal will be looking for his side to dominate the group and put themselves into a good position to start the knockout rounds, while for Senegal, led by Aliou Cisse, it’s likely to be all about that fight for second place.
The African side beat Egypt on penalties to reach the finals, while the Dutch topped their Uefa group to qualify.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of the game.
When is the match?
Senegal face Netherlands on Monday 21 November at 4pm GMT (7pm local), at the Al Thumama Stadium.
Where can I watch it?
This fixture will be broadcast by ITV 1, with a live stream available on the ITVX platform.
The Independent, meanwhile, will provide live updates of all the build-up, in-game action, and post-match fallout.
What is the team news?
Senegal have been devastated by the news that star forward Sadio Mane has been ruled out of the tournament through injury. Surgery on Thursday to reattach a tendon means he’ll be out for up to four months and, as such, their record goalscorer will miss Qatar 2022. Boulaye Dia therefore leads the attack, with Chelsea pair Edouard Mendy and Kalidou Koulibaly the rocks at the other end of the pitch.
For Netherlands, there were two injury doubts ahead of this opening game, including key centre-forward Memphis Depay. He has a thigh issue which has kept him sidelined of late and does not start here. Separately, midfielder Marten de Roon is left out after missing the last domestic match for Atalanta before joining up with the squad.
SEN – E Mendy, Sabaly, Koulibaly, Diallo, N Mendy, Kouyate, Gueye, Cisse, Diatta, Sarr, Dia
NED – Noppert, Dumfries, De Ligt, Van Dijk, Ake, Blind, De Jong, Berghuis, Gakpo, Janssen, Bergwijn
The Dutch to make the perfect start and pick up a victory by a couple of goals, even if it takes them a while to get going and break down their African opponents. The absence of Mane is just too huge to overcome against a strong defence. Senegal 0-2 Netherlands.