In focus: Scotland's friendly opponents Holland - Depay, Gravenberch and de Boer

Malky Mackay was in the dug-out and Memphis Depay was on the scoresheet the last time Scotland and Holland met in a friendly, back in 2017.

The Netherlands' national coach Frank de Boer at the KNVB Campus on May 26, 2021 in Zeist ahead of the Euro 2020 European football tournament (Photo by KOEN VAN WEEL/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

Three and a half years on, Mackay returned to the dugout with Ross County in the same week that Depay could return to the scoresheet against the Tartan Army in Wednesday’s Euro 2020 warm-up match.

This time Steve Clarke is in charge, but the Lyon forward is still the stand-out name amongst a star-studded Dutch squad being taken to the Euros by former Rangers defender Frank de Boer and who will prepare for their return to the championships against Scotland in Portugal. It is an eagerly awaited return, of course, as the Netherlands missed qualification for Euro 2016 and the World Cup in Russia three years ago.

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The players

Memphis Depay celebrates his winner the last time the sides met at Pittodrie in 2017. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

They return without their star player – Virgil van Dijk – and will be missing the ex-Celtic defender against Scotland while he recovers from his anterior knee ligament injury and prepares for the new season with Liverpool.

In his place they have a defence picked from some of the biggest clubs in Europe, domestic league winners amongst them such as Inter Milan’s Stefan de Vrij, Manchester City’s Nathan Ake plus Daley Blind and Jurrien Timber of Ajax.

Scotland’s task in Wednesday’s friendly though, may come in breaking down a stoic and settled midfield with Barcelona’s Frenkie de Jong and his potential Nou Camp team-mate Gini Wijnaldum – as well as the attacking prowess of Donny van der Beek who seems to play best on the international stage rather than Manchester United.

Supporting Luuk de Jong, Depay remains their most potent threat with a scoring record better than one in every three internationals, he is complemented by the pace of Quincy Promes on the opposite side.

Fprmer Rangers defender Fran de Boer replaced Ronald Koeman as national manager last year (Photo by OLAF KRAAK/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

The coach

Frank de Boer has had eight games in charge since replacing Ronald Koeman, who moved to Barcelona last year, and places a 50 per cent win record on the line against Steve Clarke in Faro before Holland return to their Championship base in Zeist with group games all played at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

With a local base, de Boer has a settled and familiar squad too, lining up frequently with a 4-2-3-1 and utilising the core of Koeman’s team that reached the inaugural Nations League final, ranked 16th in the world.

The matches

Ryan Gravenberch of Ajax has been included in de Boer's squad. (Photo by Peter Dejong-Pool/Getty Images)

However, just as Clarke pitched in Nathan Patterson, David Turnbull and Billy Gilmour for Scotland, de Boer has done similar and added highly-rated 18-year-old Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax to his squad as a sign of things to come. He will be hopeful of game time against the likes of Gilmour and Turnbull ahead of the championships’ kick-off when the Netherlands face Ukraine on June 13 then Austria and North Macedonia.

Warming up against Scotland and then Georgia, de Boer’s squad hit seven goals on their last outing, albeit against lowly Gibraltar in the World Cup qualifiers and it took almost until half-time to open the scoring. Prior, they were shocked 4-2 by Turkey and defeated Sweden 2-0.

Despite missing van Dijk, Scottish football fans may see another familiar face aside from the manager. Tim Krul, who played a year at Falkirk, is one of Jasper Cillesen’s goalkeeping deputies, and helped his country to the 2014 World Cup semi-final.

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