Netherlands to edge out Sadio Mané-less Senegal

AFCON champions Senegal will have to find a way to negotiate Group A without star striker Sadio Mané after the Bayern Munich frontman was ruled out on the eve of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. On Monday, they will face a well-fancied Netherlands side managed by Louis van Gaal for a second time. Stacked in attack and suspect at the back, neutral fans at the Al Thumama Stadium should be treated to one of the better opening pool fixtures on paper. Read our preview here:

Boulaye-d entry

The Lions of Teranga are far from a one-man band, however, and it will be up to head coach Aliou Cissé, veteran and captain of the 2002 vintage that shocked the globe on the way to the last eight, to rally the troops. Towering centre back Kalidou Koulibaly will be key in both repelling Dutch advances and setting up attacks with long, accurate balls to the front three. Mané's withdrawal necessitates a shifting of the personnel in the forward line, where Ismaila Sarr might now cut in from the left instead of being a more conventional wide player on the right. Monaco's Krépin Diatta could be deployed there instead, leaving the responsibility through the middle squarely on Boulaye Dia. The 26 year old has had a decent campaign thus far for Serie A outfit Salernitana, and should be confident that he will get chances against a defence that push high and are prone to individual errors.

Cheat Cody

van Gaal has injury worries of his own in attack. Memphis Depay, whilst not ruled out of the tournament, is still recovering from a thigh injury and remains a major doubt to have any participation on Monday. In the 3-5-2, the duo up top often drift wide to drag their markers out of position and create space for a very progressively minded central midfield unit, and that newly found tradition will be maintained without the Barcelona star. Vincent Janssen could partner Steven Bergwijn in his stead, whilst the highly sought after Cody Gakpo gets forward whenever possible to support them. The PSV player is a creative force to be reckoned with, having amassed 18 goals and 16 assists across club and country fixtures already this term. Naturally, this has attracted a slew of Europe's most moneyed clubs, and his price tag is bound to increase with some big performances on the biggest stage of all in men's football.

Betting tip

betway have odds of 4.00 for a group opening win for Oranje with both teams scoring as but their cavalier approach will also let Senegal in at the back, a phenomenon which could come back to haunt them deeper into the World Cup.

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