Euro 2012 may have only finished two months ago, but it's already time to prepare for World Cup 2014. And aren't we all excited by that prospect? Sure, international breaks drag players away from their clubs and cause us to nervously chew our nails as giant thugs from unpronounceable nations beat them into bloody pulps...but it's fun, right?
Well, Netherlands v Turkey has the potential to be fun, anyway. After reaching the final of the last World Cup, Holland had a meltdown during the Euros, failing to score any points in their group and bowing out rather ungracefully. Turkey, meanwhile, made it to the qualification playoffs, although they possibly failed to show up and lost 3-0 to Croatia. In other words, both sides have something to prove in this first qualification match.
Shortly after failing spectacularly in Poland / Ukraine, Bert van Marwijk resigned as head coach, and was replaced by Louis van Gaal, most recently of Bayern Munich. Van Gaal's side looks to have a slightly different approach -- for instance, he's left behind twin bruisers Mark van Bommel and Nigel De Jong. He'll still be relying on Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder and Robin Van Persie, however. Place your bets now as to whether you think all three will be healthy come summer 2014.
Turkey's found themselves a new coach as well, replacing Guus Hiddink with Abdullah Avcı, the former manager of both Galatasaray and Istanbul BB (although not at the same time, obviously). Avcı is looking to take advantage of Turkey's talents in midfield, where the likes of Mehmet Topal, Hamit Altintop and Nuri Şahin will all almost certainly have a place. The midfield will be what defines the Turkish game, but you should also keep an eye on Umut Bulut and Burak Yilmaz up front, both who have been performing well at Galatasaray.
Date/Time: Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. local
Venue: Amsterdam Arena. We're fairly sure that's in Amsterdam.
Television: ESPN (U.K.)
Online: ESPN3 (U.S.)