Match Hub: Netherlands v Cymru
International
14 June 2022

Match Hub: Netherlands v Cymru

BALE LOOKS BACK ON INTENSIVE CAMP

13 June 20228:30am

Gareth Bale also spoke to the media this morning prior to their final training session before heading to Rotterdam to take on the Netherlands.

"It's been a long camp, especially for the boys who were in Portugal as well," said Bale. "The games are coming thick and fast so it's difficult to get your head around. The main aim was to qualify for the World Cup. It's been a difficult camp on the end of a long season, but we have to do it, and when we put on a Wales shirt we always give 100%.

"Ideally I would have played more games coming into camp, but I feel ok even though I haven't had a lot of preparation coming into it. We have a lot of good young players coming through, even when there's one or two injuries we have players to come in and do a job.

"I'm happy with what I've done in my career, if you had offered me 10% of it at the start I would have taken it. I was just a kid from Whitchurch so I feel I've over-achieved. My focus has just been on qualifying for the World Cup and now I'm trying to get ready for that. My next move will be massively important as I want to go into the World Cup ideally having played games."

The Cymru captain also followed manager Rob Page in paying tribute to the late Phil Bennett. "I know he's a massive Welsh icon," said Bale. "He played a bit before my time but I've seen videos of him scoring some amazing tries growing up. Our hearts go out to his family. He's a legend and the things he's done in rugby are incredible. He will be truly missed."

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PAGE HIGHLIGHTS POSITIVES AHEAD OF DUTCH TEST

13 June 20228:27am

Cymru manager Rob Page spoke to the media earlier today and reflected on the international camp ahead of the UEFA Nations League match against the Netherlands tomorrow night. 

"We've had a few injuries as it's been such an intense camp," said Page. "We had four tough games anyway, but to throw the final in the mix has caught up with us. It's no surprise we've had a few knocks, but it's the most positive camp that we've had. We wanted to expose our younger players to quality opposition and I've been really pleased with our performances. There's a tremendous amount of positives to come out of this camp."

Brennan Johnson came off the bench to equalise against Belgium on Saturday evening and Page is looking forward to seeing how he continues to develop ahead of the World Cup. "I want Brennan to go back and have a good pre-season with Nottingham Forest," he explained. "He's a humble lad. He plays a different way for Forest than with us, and we just want to help him improve on different aspects of his game.

"The tides have turned, we respect our opposition, but we don't fear anyone. Gareth [Bale] and Aaron [Ramsey] are really important players for us. Aaron has shown for Wales that he's more than capable of playing back-to-back games and we've got players on the bench who can come on and make an impact. A lot of things can happen between now and the date that we have to pick the squad [for the World Cup]."

Page also paid tribute to Welsh rugby legend Phil Bennett who passed away on Sunday. "I watched the clips last night," said Page. "He's been an outstanding servant to Welsh rugby. We're one nation and when we play sport we support each other. What he brought to Welsh rugby was unbelievable."

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LEAGUE A4 LATEST

12 June 20228:32am

The Netherlands remain top of UEFA Nations League A4 following Saturday's round of fixtures but Louis van Gaal's side had to come back from being two goals behind to claim a point against Poland.

Goals from Matty Cash and Piotr Zieliński had given Poland a two goal advantage after 49 minutes but the Netherlands were level before the hour mark through Davy Klaassen and Denzel Dumfries. Memphis Depay had the chance to win it for the Netherlands in stoppage time but his penalty struck the post and went wide.

Meanwhile, a late goal from Brennan Johnson earned Cymru a share of the points against Belgium in Cardiff. The visitors had taken the lead through Youri Tielemans on 51 minutes but Johnson came off the bench to score his first senior international goal.

The final round of games in this international window take place on Tuesday as Poland meet Belgium in Warsaw and Cymru face the Netherlands in Rotterdam. The remaining two rounds of games that will decide which team progresses to the finals and which team are relegated will take place in September.

Here is the current UEFA Nations League A4 table.

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PREVIOUS MEETINGS

11 June 20229:47am

There have been 15 previous meetings between Cymru and Belgium, with Belgium edging the stats with six wins to Cymru's five, while the two nations have also played out four draws since they first met in May 1949.

Although Belgium won that opening friendly 3-1 in Liege, Cymru responded to the defeat later that year as Trevor Ford scored a hat-trick in a 5-1 in Cardiff. The two sides would not meet again until October 1990 when Ian Rush, Dean Saunders and Mark Hughes scored in 3-1 victory for Terry Yorath's side. That was the first of six fixtures between the two teams over the course of the next decade, but Cymru would only register one more win with Rush and Ryan Giggs on target in a 2-0 win in Cardiff back in 1993.

However, it is Cymru who boast the recent advantage as respective 1-1 and 0-0 draws in 2013 and 2014 were followed by two famous victories. Gareth Bale scored the only goal in EURO 2016 qualifying as Cymru claimed a 1-0 win in Cardiff, while the side famously defeated Belgium in the quarter-finals of the tournament with goals from Ashley Williams, Hal Robson-Kanu and Sam Vokes.

The last meeting between the two teams took place at the Cardiff City Stadium back in November as Cymru finished runners-up in their World Cup qualifying group with Kieffer Moore (below) equalising in the 1-1 draw. The point ensured Rob Page's side would have a home draw in the play-offs, and history was made with subsequent victories over Austria and Ukraine. At the start of the qualifying campaign, Belgium defeated Cymru 3-1 in Leuven.

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PAGE TALKS TEAM SELECTIONS AHEAD OF BELGIUM TEST

10 June 20224:56pm

Cymru manager Rob Page spoke to the media on Friday afternoon from the team base in Cardiff ahead of the UEFA Nations League match against Belgium.

"We wanted to get promoted from League B to A but we haven't given ourselves the best chance of staying up because of the play-off final," said Page. "We don't fear anybody, we're at this level because we've earned the right to be at this level. We're expecting a tough challenge and it will make for an entertaining game and a tough game, but we will be ready for it."

Cymru are still looking for their first points of the campaign having lost to Poland and the Netherlands either side of the World Cup play-off final victory over Ukraine. Page admits that his team selections for the opening two Nations League games were dictated by the play-off final, and while he is targeting a positive result, he is also aware that these games will form an important part of his preparations for the World Cup finals.

"There's no scope for friendlies before the World Cup," Page added. "There's no opportunity and we haven't got a big enough squad to take that chance with. The days between the games are really important for us to get the players recovered. We want to win every game we go into, but we have to be mindful that the players have had long seasons. We want to stay in this division, but the main focus coming into this camp was the play-off final.

"We will approach it like we have every other time we've played them [Belgium]. It will be no different tomorrow, but we're planning for the World Cup as well. It will be about what we can get out of tomorrow's game. I'm not going to push players to the brink of not being able to do a pre-season because that would have a knock-on effect to September and then again to November.

"In an ideal world we want our players playing, but when they put the jersey on of Wales they're unbelievable. But to go to that next level and sustain it, we need the majority of players playing week in, week out."

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PREPARATIONS CONTINUE

10 June 20224:35pm

The Cymru squad completed their final preparations earlier today ahead of their third UEFA Nations League fixture tomorrow night against Belgium in Cardiff (7.45pm).

Goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey has recovered from the knock that kept him out of the 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Wednesday but striker Kieffer Moore has left the squad having suffered a back injury while midfielder Joe Morrell has been forced out with a broken toe.

Here are a few photos from training earlier today.

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UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A4 LATEST

09 June 20228:50am

Belgium claimed an impressive 6-1 win over Poland in Brussels on Wednesday night to make up for their disappointing 4-1 defeat to the Netherlands last Friday.

Five different players were on target for Roberto Martinez's side with Leandro Trossard scoring twice, while Robert Lewandowski scored the consolation goal for the visitors. The Netherlands maintained their perfect start to the campaign with a 2-1 win over Cymru in Cardiff but needed a late goal from Wout Weghorst to claim the three points.

Cymru drop to the bottom of the group following their second defeat in as many games. However, Rob Page's team selections for the opening two games against Poland and the Netherlands were affected by the World Cup play-off against Ukraine, and his full focus now will be on ensuring his side stay in League A.

The fixtures continue on Saturday evening as Cymru host Belgium and the Netherlands take on Poland. Here is the latest League A4 table following Wednesday's results.

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INJURY UPDATE

09 June 20228:26am

Cymru manager Rob Page confirmed in his post-match press conference following the 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands on Wednesday night that goalkeepers Wayne Hennessey and Danny Ward (below) have picked up injuries.

Ward started the match as one of a number of changes to the starting line-up from the victory over Ukraine, but Page revealed that the decision to replace him with Adam Davies at half-time was enforced. "Danny has had a slight issue with his knee," he explained. "It has flared up at half-time and he couldn't continue so that was forced on us.

"Wayne was down to play today but I found out at lunchtime he has a knock. When you have two or three injuries in key areas, it has an impact." The manager also confirmed that midfielder Joe Morrell was forced off in the second half with a foot injury and he will be assessed ahead of the match against Belgium on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, Belgium are expected to be without striker Romelu Lukaku for the UEFA Nations League match in Cardiff. The Chelsea striker was taken off in the opening half of the 4-1 defeat to the Netherlands last week and missed the 6-1 win over Poland on Wednesday.

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DUTCH WITHOUT VAN DIJK

08 June 20226:51am

Virgil van Dijk has been left out of the Netherlands squad to take on Cymru at the Cardiff City Stadium in the UEFA Nations League this evening (7.45pm).

The Liverpool defender played for the Netherlands in their impressive 4-1 win over Belgium last week but has now been given time off by manager Louis van Gaal after a busy domestic season with his club that culminated with the UEFA Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid.

Stefan de Vrij is expected to replace van Dijk and he spoke to the media yesterday. "It doesn't matter who we're up against, who's playing, because we're taking this game very seriously, to win and stay top of the group, It's a big accomplishment for Wales to qualify for the World Cup. They have a lot of quality."

JOHNSON ENJOYING THE MOMENT

07 June 20224:46pm

Brennan Johnson also spoke to the media earlier today and reflected on his recent double of achieving promotion to the Premier League with Nottingham Forest and qualifying for the World Cup with Cymru.

"It's going to be a hard week to top and it probably hasn't sunk in yet," he explained. "The scenes at the end against Ukraine were unbelievable. When I came on I just wanted to affect the game as much as I could. It means a lot to me as the World Cup is another level. We want to be a part of it alongside these elite teams and we can do that.

"You watch the World Cup growing up and I can't believe we've made it. The thought of being on that plane is really exciting. Seeing what it means to the fans and so to take them to World Cup is really special. It was such a good moment to be on the pitch with them at the final whistle."

Brennan only turned 21 last month and explained what he has learnt from being part of the senior international squad. "I've learnt loads and especially during these play-off games," he said. "Ukraine were a really good team but the way the boys worked together - In those big moments you need big players, and I've learnt a lot just watching from the bench."

His preferred position on the field has put Brennan in competition with captain Gareth Bale in the side, but Brennan is enjoying the experience of working with him. "The more I train and play with him the more I can improve. I'm watching little things that he's doing from the bench and how he's doing it so I can bring that into my own game."

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PAGE BACK TO BUSINESS AS NATIONS LEAGUE CONTINUES

07 June 20224:34pm

Cymru manager Rob Page spoke to the media from the team base in Cardiff earlier this afternoon ahead of the UEFA Nations League A4 match against the Netherlands.

"The players have had a good training session this morning and we're up against a very, very good Dutch team," said Page. "The Nations League has been good to us as we want to compete against the best in Europe and it's beneficial in that we can expose our young players to good opposition. We're going out to get points in this competition and stay in the division."

Page named an experimental side in the opening match against Poland as Cymru started the campaign with a 2-1 defeat, but the manager was encouraged by the performance. "The young lads selected gave a great account of themselves against Poland. It was a beneficial exercise and they will have gained valuable experience from that.

"I'm not against the Nations League, from a manager's view I like exposing the players to these games and it replicates what we're going to experience at major tournaments when you have to recover quickly between games. We want to win games so we have to get the balance right. We're not here just to make the numbers up, but it's not realistic to ask the senior players to go again so soon after Sunday, so we have to be respectful of that."

Meanwhile, Page also reflected on Sunday's victory over Ukraine and what it means to take Cymru to the World Cup after a 64-year wait. "We're still pinching ourselves," he added. "It's so nice for everybody involved. We're very, very proud. We celebrated with our families. The lads work hard on camp and it's really intense. There are high demands on them and the staff and this is a long camp, so we need that downtime as well. We have to enjoy moments like that."

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PAPER ROUND

07 June 20229:54am

It's no surprise that qualification for the 2022 FIFA World Cup continues to dominate the back pages across Wales today as Rob Page and his squad prepare for Qatar in November.

The UEFA Nations League will form an important part of those preparations and Page will be meeting the media later today to discuss the League A4 match against the Netherlands in Cardiff tomorrow evening (7.45pm). Check back later for more from today's press conference.

Page named an experimental starting line-up for the opening group match against Poland last week, and despite the 2-1 defeat, the side put in an impressive performance. A number of changes are again expected against the Dutch as his senior players recover from Sunday's incredible effort.

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PREVIOUS MEETINGS V NETHERLANDS

06 June 20224:16pm

There have been eight previous fixtures between Cymru and the Netherlands since the two nations first met back in September 1988, and the Dutch have a perfect record having won all eight games.

The great Ruud Gullit scored the only goal of the game to give his side victory over Cymru when the two teams met for the first time in Amsterdam in qualifying for the 1990 World Cup. Mark Bowen was on target for Cymru in the return match in October 1989 at the Racecourse, but the Netherlands won the fixture 2-1.

The two countries were drawn together in qualifying for the 1998 World Cup. Pierre van Hooijdonk scored twice in a 3-1 victory for the Dutch in Cardiff in October 1996 with Dean Saunders scoring the consolation goal for Bobby Gould's side, and the striker scored again in the return match in Eindhoven in November 1997. However, the Netherlands won the match 7-1 and the teams have not met competitively since then.

There have also been four friendly internationals between the two teams, the most recent taking place at the Cardiff City Stadium in November 2015 as Chris Coleman and his side prepared for EURO 2016. Joe Ledley and Emyr Huws (below) scored for Cymru but two goals from Arjen Robben helped the Netherlands to a 3-2 win.

MANY POSITIVES FOR WALES DESPITE NETHERLANDS DEFEAT

UEFA NATIONS LEAGUE A4 LATEST

06 June 20223:57pm

The Netherlands currently lead Group A4 of the UEFA Nations League ahead of their visit to Cardiff to take on Cymru on Wednesday evening (7.45pm).

Louis van Gaal's talented Dutch side started their campaign in style on Friday with a convincing 4-1 win over Belgium through goals from Steven Bergwijn, Denzel Dumfries and a brace from Memphis Depay. Click the video below for extended highlights of the victory.

Meanwhile, Cymru are looking for their first points in the group following a narrow 2-1 defeat to Poland last week. Rob Page named an experimental side for the match ahead of the World Cup play-off final against Ukraine, and it proved to be the right decision as his side booked their place in Qatar with a memorable 1-0 win.

Belgium are currently bottom of the group following their heavy defeat against the Netherlands and they host Poland on Wednesday night.

Here is the latest UEFA Nations League A4 table heading into the second round of fixtures.

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Off the back of World Cup qualification, Cymru are now preparing for UEFA Nations League matches against Netherlands (8 June) and Belgium (11 June) at Cardiff City Stadium before heading to Rotterdam to face Netherlands again (14 June).

Follow updates from the Cymru camp and get all the latest info in the build-up to the matches. 

This page will be updated regularly so be sure to keep checking this page.