Netherlands v France: Sneijder urges youth to step up


Wesley Sneijder has called on Netherlands' new generation to step up as they start their preparation for the 2018 World Cup qualifiers with a friendly against France on Friday.

The Dutch have said farewell to high-profile names such as Robin van Persie, Nigel de Jong and Rafael van der Vaart following their failure to qualify for Euro 2016, with head coach Danny Blind calling up a number of inexperienced youngsters for the upcoming friendlies instead.

Sneijder sees similarities to what happened with Belgium in recent years and hopes the Dutch can also bounce back in the years to come.

"I am comparing our situation to that of Belgium. They had a good generation as well and then nothing for a while," Sneijder told NOS.

"They had to rejuvenate their squad and the same thing is happening with us now. We have a lot of new and young players with plenty of quality. Belgium are reaping the rewards now. It will be the same for us in two years' time. That's when the youngsters will have to step up.

"I feel a certain responsibility now, absolutely. I want to be visiting a major tournament in about eight years or so and see Netherlands win it. I will then have played my part in it as well."

Rick Karsdorp, Timo Letschert and Vincent Janssen could all make their Netherlands debuts in Amsterdam, while Riechedly Bazoer has only one cap to his name.

Meanwhile, Euro 2016 hosts France have other problems ahead of the tournament as they are still without Karim Benzema.

The Real Madrid man was suspended following his role in an extortion case involving international team-mate Mathieu Valbuena and consequently remains unavailable.

Coach Didier Deschamps also opted to leave Valbuena out of his squad for their Dutch test, although the Lyon man's absence is down to fitness issues.

The France boss did include Leicester City star N'Golo Kante in his squad, with the midfielder the only outfield player who could make his debut.

France and Netherlands have locked horns on 23 occasions, with the Dutch emerging victorious 10 times against the French's nine wins, the four remaining fixtures ending all square.

They last met in March 2014, when France recorded a 2-0 win courtesy of goals from Benzema and Blaise Matuidi.