Unlike in the European Championship qualification, there is a reasonable chance that goal difference for the Dutch national team will be decisive in the battle for placement for the World Cup in Qatar.

The assignment on Saturday evening in the Johan Cruijff ArenA against Latvia (and on Tuesday against Gibraltar) is therefore not only winning, but also achieving a great result.

"We always want to score as many goals as possible. If the situation is such that you are level with a competitor in points, then the goal difference must help us further", national coach Frank de Boer realizes.

During the successful European Championship qualification led by De Boers predecessor Ronald Koeman, mutual results were still decisive with an equal number of points.

Only then did the goal difference play a role.

FIFA applies different rules and that cost Orange a ticket for the 2018 World Cup. In the qualifying campaign for that final tournament, there was a 1-1 draw and a 2-0 win against competitor Sweden, but the goal difference (+17 to +9 in Swedish advantage ) was decisive.

"The players and staff are aware of this," says De Boer.

"You can sometimes think that 3-0 is enough, but if you can make six then you have to make six."

Photo series: Previous confrontations between Orange and Latvia

In 2004, the Orange played against Latvia for the first time.

The Netherlands won 3-0 and qualified for the quarter finals of the European Championship in Portugal.

© Pro Shots

Frank de Boer was captain of Orange at the time and played his penultimate international match.

© Pro Shots

Ruud van Nistelrooij scored twice and Roy Makaay was 3-0.

© Pro Shots

In 2014, Guus Hiddink led the Dutch to a 6-0 victory over Latvia in the World Cup qualification.

© Pro Shots

Robin van Persie wore the captain's armband.

© Pro Shots

Van Persie made it 1-0.

© Pro Shots

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Arjen Robben both scored twice.

© Pro Shots

In 2015, the Orange won 0-2 in Latvia.

© Pro Shots

Georginio Wijnaldum and Luciano Narsingh scored.

© Pro Shots

Latvia's biggest win was 6-0

Based on the FIFA ranking, number 14 Netherlands can be expected to win a big victory over both Latvia (136) and Gibraltar (195).

The Orange squad has never played against Gibraltar before, but Latvia has already been the opponent three times, with only victories as a result.

At the European Championship 2004 the Latvians were beaten 3-0 and in the failed qualification for the European Championship 2016 it became 6-0 and 0-2.

Latvia's biggest defeat in recent years was 6-0 in the European Championship qualifier against Austria in September 2019. Three months earlier, the team lost 0-5 to Slovenia.

Gibraltar has only been playing official international matches since 2013 and the biggest defeat was 9-0 in the World Cup qualifier against Belgium in 2017. The mini-state started qualifying for the 2022 World Cup on Wednesday with a 0-3 defeat against Norway.

The Netherlands-Latvia starts on Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Johan Cruijff ArenA and is led by arbitrator Stéphanie Frappart.

It is the first time in history that an international match for Orange is whistled by a woman.

Group G standings World Cup qualification

  • 1. Norway 1-3 (+3)

  • 2. Turkey 1-3 (+2)

  • 3. Montenegro 1-3 (+1)

  • 4. Latvia 1-0 (-1)

  • 5. Netherlands 1-0 (-2)

  • 6. Gibraltar 1-0 (-3)


First De Boer competition with audience: 'Curious about the energy'