Holland and Roma’s fears have become a reality, as reports say Dutch midfielder Kevin Strootman is out for nine months after tearing cartilage in his knee on Sunday against Napoli.
That of course ends the 24-year-old’s season in Roma’s engine room and devastates his World Cup hopes. He figured to be a pivotal piece of the Netherlands drive to get out of a brutal Group B with Spain, Australia and Chile.
Netherlands head coach Louis van Gaal did not mince words when asked for his feelings:
“For the national side it is a huge blow. Kevin made a huge contribution to our qualification for the World Cup, he never let us down and now his dreams have died.”
I asked a trusted Dutch source to see what this means for the country’s World Cup fortunes, and he said it’s nothing short of a massive blow that will force van Gaal to turn to Nigel de Jong (AC Milan), Jordy Clasie (Feyenoord) and/or Davy Klaassen (Ajax) for more responsibility in the midfield. He mentioned that Wesley Sneijder has been on the outs with van Gaal. This this turn of events may force both sides into a faster reconciliation.
Furthermore, Strootman’s injury could be the tipping point that sends Chile past the Netherlands, as club soccer continues to toy with the fortunes of World Cup teams.
Newcastle United’s horror start under Steve McClaren just got worse.
Magpies No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul is on duty with the Netherlands, and was forced from the Dutch’s 2-1 win at Kazakhstan in Euro qualifying action.
[ MORE: Ultimate guide to USMNT vs. Mexico ]
Krul left the game after landing awkwardly on his knee, and left the stadium on crutches.
Newcastle’s back-up keepers are Karl Darlow, new from Nottingham Forest, and veteran Rob Elliot.
The Magpies are in 20th place, without a win through eight Premier League matches.
McClaren’s crew just finished a brutal run of matches that saw Newcastle face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.