Netherlands vs. Ecuador: Date, Time, Live Stream Info, Prediction and Preview

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Netherlands vs. Ecuador: Date, Time, Live Stream Info, Prediction and Preview
Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Netherlands look to get their World Cup warm-up schedule underway as they face Ecuador at the impressive Amsterdam ArenA on Saturday.

Louis van Gaal will be looking to put his team through their paces before the squad flies out to Brazil for the biggest football event on the planet.

Robin van Persie will continue his rehabilitation from injury and seems assured to start the match as captain.

Here is how you can catch the action in the U.S. 

 

When: Saturday, May 17, at 7:30 p.m. BST/2:30 p.m. ET

Where: Amsterdam ArenA, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Live Stream: ESPN3 (U.S. only)

 

Key Storylines 

The Focus of Louis van Gaal

Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Louis van Gaal has spent two years with the national team and has been preparing for the moment to appear as head coach at the World Cup.

But with widespread reports that he is about to join Manchester United after the tournament, per Mark Ogden of The Telegraph, the move is hanging over him like an un-escapable shadow.

The press have been hounding van Gaal since he became the favourite to take over from David Moyes at Old Trafford and there is every chance it could hamper the Netherlands' preparations.

The Ecuador game allows van Gaal to keep focus as he tries to concentrate on preparing a team capable of winning the World Cup. He can then finally escape the attentions of the English press once he and his squad flies out to South America. 

When asked about his immediate future, per Dan Roan of BBC Sport, Van Gaal said: "I have to focus on my job, I am coach of the Dutch national team. I have waited a long time to be in a World Cup, so that's very important. This doesn't affect me. I have always had offers. I know what the football world is and what it means."

Peter Dejong/Associated Press

Ogden confirmed this attitude in his article:

With Holland coach Van Gaal keen to avoid distractions in the build-up to Saturday’s friendly at the Amsterdam ArenA and also avoid accusations of focusing on United at the expense of his job with the Dutch, United are happy to wait until next week to finalise the deal with the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach.

The next couple of weeks could be tricky for Van Gaal but he has the experience to juggle his commitments and fully prepare his players. 

His profile will explode once he is confirmed as the new United boss, but he is a coach who is used to operating under pressure.

The friendly match on Saturday is vital to ironing out the creases in the Dutch team as they prepare to lock horns with Spain, Chile and Australia in an incredibly difficult World Cup group.

 

Return of Robin

Peter Dejong/Associated Press

If Netherlands are to progress from the group stages of the World Cup they will need a fit and firing Robin van Persie. The Manchester United striker has been plagued with injuries all season and this has been reflected in his team's results and position.

Van Persie's preparation for this World Cup has been anything but ideal, but he has managed to keep his goalscoring exploits in check. During a stop-start season for United, van Persie still managed to score 12 goals in 21 Premier League matches, per Squawka.

Injury has not affected his prolific performance in front of goal and Netherlands will be hoping to keep him fit for the next two months. 

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If Netherlands can navigate the stormy waters of their group they will have every chance of progressing deep into the tournament.

And RvP will be key in this quest.

The match against Ecuador will give the United striker and his Dutch team-mates a taste of South America and prepare them for what they will face in the coming weeks. 

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