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      World Cup 2022 round of 16 match preview: Netherlands vs. USA

      Netherlands' Frenkie de Jong with coach Louis van Gaal after being substituted

      Who: Netherlands vs USA
      Where: Khalifa International Stadium
      When: December 3, 6pm (15:00 GMT)
      FIFA ranking: Netherlands (8), USA (16)

      On Saturday, the Netherlands will face the United States in the first match of the World Cup’s knockout phase at the Khalifa International Stadium, with the European side looking to establish themselves as serious contenders in Qatar.

      There has been a lot of chatter, primarily from the Dutch camp, about the team’s potential to win the tournament.

      Louis van Gaal’s side won Group A with seven points after 2-0 wins over Senegal and Qatar, as well as a 1-1 tie with Ecuador.

      Despite their unblemished record, the Dutch have left much to be desired in their three games, with a number of key players yet to fully ignite and the club highly relying on goals from the in-form Cody Gakpo.

      That will give the Americans optimism, as they will be the underdogs, but they have already shown some of their own potential in an unbeaten run in Group B, where they secured 0-0 and 1-1 draws against England and Wales, respectively, and a gutsy 1-0 triumph over Iran to ensure their progression.

      Christian Pulisic
      The USA will be hoping captain Christian Pulisic will be fit to face the Netherlands [Showkat Shafi/Al Jazeera]

      USA sweat on Pulisic fitness

      While the USA sweat on the fitness of star player Christian Pulisic – he has a pelvic injury and is being assessed daily – coach Gregg Berhalter said his team would have no inferiority complex.

      “It’s a great opportunity, but it’s not something that we’re going into it thinking is an honor,” Berhalter said. “We deserve to be in the position we’re in. And we want to keep going. We don’t want to be going home on Saturday.

      “And from here anything can happen. All we need to do is play one game at a time. There’s no need to even project how far this team can go,” added Berhalter, who has an intimate knowledge of Dutch football. The 49-year-old played in the Dutch league for three different clubs between 1996 and 2000.

      For the Netherlands, the key will be to get Memphis Depay flying in attack and Frenkie de Jong on the ball in midfield.

      Winner meets Argentina or Australia

      Depay says he is over his hamstring injury, having made two substitute appearances and started their last group game.

      “I have drawn a line under the questions about fitness,” he told reporters.

      “I’m fit. The knockout phase is serious business. We are past the group phase, we can now not afford to slip into it. Many people thought it would be a piece of cake, but it is always a bit different.”

      Van Gaal, 71, was keen not to underestimate the opposition.

      “I know from experience that matches against countries such as the United States and Australia, who we encountered at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, are always very difficult,” he said. “They are very fanatical and sharp on the ball.”

      The winner of the match will advance to a quarter-final meeting with either Argentina or Australia on December 9.

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