The current African Cup of Nations holders Senegal will face the Netherlands in their opening game on Monday. Following up on their historic continental victory in February, Aliou Cisse’s squad defeated Egypt in a playoff match to get to the World Cup. Sadio Mane, who was a key player in both victories and scored the game-winning penalty kick, will no longer participate due to an injury. Despite their own fitness issues, the Netherlands enter their first World Cup since 2014 in terrific shape. Since Louis van Gaal was hired as manager for the third time last year, the Dutch have gone unbeaten in 15 games.
Senegal team news
“We will do everything in our power to ensure we can restore Mane in time to play,” Cisse promised. Mane has been formally disqualified from the tournament because attempts to repair the fibula damage he suffered on November 8—including using a witch doctor—failed to be successful. The Lions of Teranga “will have to cope without its greatest player,” Senegalese Football Federation board member Abdoulaye Sow stated five days before to kickoff. Abdou Diallo also has knee issues, which is a concern.
Netherlands team news
Although Memphis Depay leads the Netherlands’ international scoring charts, he has been dealing with a hamstring problem ever since making his Oranje debut in September. The forward would not start their World Cup debut, according to Van Gaal, as he continues to heal. Just eight days before the match against Senegal, Denzel Dumfries was forced to leave the field while playing for Inter against Atalanta due to a knee injury. Due to a muscle issue, Marten de Roon wasn’t a part of the opposition on that particular day.
Senegal vs Netherlands score prediction
Nine of Senegal’s past 14 goals in competitive games have either been scored by Mane or created by him. The loss of the Bayern Munich attacker is a colossal blow to a team that, in the words of their own manager, “must continue to work on our efficiency in front of goal.” The Netherlands will also feel Memphis’ absence very strongly, but Van Gaal likely has more choices for striker than his rival. In the European World Cup qualifying process, only Germany and England scored more goals than the Dutch.
Prediction: Senegal 1-2 Netherlands
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