Wednesday’s friendly international match against Spain seems to be a game without value in the busy schedule of Orange, but the opposite is true. With a win over Spain, the Dutch national team takes a step towards pot 1 in the draw for the World Cup qualification, and that brings the final tournament in Qatar closer.
Orange is the tenth European country in the ranking
The qualification series for a World Cup is much tougher than that for a European Championship, because only thirteen European countries qualify. 24 countries participate in the European title fight.
The European countries will be divided into ten groups in the World Cup qualification and only the ten winners will qualify directly for the final tournament at the end of 2022 in Qatar. The ten numbers two and two countries from the Nations League compete in the play-offs for the last three World Cup tickets.
By way of comparison: in the last European Championship qualification, the Orange team finished second in the group behind Germany and that was sufficient for qualification. In World Cup qualifying, that wouldn’t be enough for direct placement.
It is therefore important to be in pot 1 (the 55 UEFA countries are divided into six pots) in the draw for the World Cup qualification on December 7, in order to avoid the strongest countries. In the run-up to the 2002 World Cup, for example, the Netherlands ended up in a group with Portugal and in the battle for a ticket for the 2018 World Cup, the later world champion France was one of the opponents. Both times the Orange missed the World Cup.
In order to end up in pot 1 in the draw, Orange must be among the ten best European countries in the FIFA rankings after this international period, and the result of the exhibition match against Spain will influence this.
The Netherlands is currently fifteenth in the FIFA rankings and is the tenth European country. The lead over the global number 16 Switzerland is small. The Orange therefore needs points to prevent the Swiss from coming alongside and still getting a place in pot 1 at the expense of the Netherlands in the draw.
With a good result against Spain, the Netherlands takes points for the FIFA ranking, even if it concerns an exhibition game. After that, the Orange can also capture points in the Nations League-games against Bosnia and Herzegovina (Sunday) and Poland (Wednesday, November 18), hoping to keep Switzerland behind.
The Swiss will play friendly against Belgium on Wednesday-evening and then Nations League confrontations with Spain (Saturday) and Ukraine (Tuesday) await.
The Netherlands-Spain starts on Wednesday at 8.45 pm in the empty Johan Cruijff ArenA and is led by Italian referee Davide Massa.