Robin van Persie takes over as captain as Holland face Portugal
Robin van Persie takes over as captain as Holland fine-tune preparations for the final push to secure a World Cup place.
Last Updated: 13/08/13 4:21pm
Robin van Persie takes over as captain as Holland fine-tune preparations for their final push to secure a World Cup place.
Holland are a team reborn since their dismal Euro 2012 campaign and are well on course for Brazil next summer after winning their first six qualifiers.
New coach Louis van Gaal has overseen the resurgence and the veteran tactician refuses to shirk from tough decisions, most recently dropping skipper Wesley Sneijder for this week's friendly in Portugal.
Consequently, Van Persie will take the armband as Holland, seven points clear in Group D, warm up for a trip to Estonia next month that could all but clinch their World Cup spot.
Van Gaal claimed Galatasaray midfielder Sneijder needed to improve his physical condition before being considered again.
He told reporters: "He is not out of sight, but he must first get in shape. Then he will probably play with his qualities."
Van Persie begins the new season just five goals behind Patrick Kluivert's national goalscoring record of 40.
Holland, who have not lost for a year, also boast the likes of Rafael van der Vaart and Arjen Robben in their squad to travel to Faro.
A competitive run-out against Portugal would be ideal preparation for the remainder of a qualifying campaign that should prove straightforward.
With a game against minnows Andorra to come in October, the Oranje would be almost there with a win in Tallinn.
Portugal should find that, under Van Gaal, the Dutch are now a different prospect from the team they beat at Euro 2012.
Portugal won on that occasion, 2-1 in Kharkiv, sending the Dutch tumbling out of the tournament at the group stage without a single point.
Paulo Bento's men went on to reach the semi-finals but their progress in World Cup qualifying has been less auspicious.
They lead Group F but they may lose top spot while they play out their friendly in the Algarve as second-placed Russia, two points behind, play one of their two games in hand.
Israel, who are three points back, have also played a game fewer than Portugal in what is proving a tight group.
They did find form towards the end of last season, most notably coming from behind to claim a draw in Israel and then beating Russia in Lisbon.
They resume their qualifying campaign in Northern Ireland next month.
The Portuguese are also full of attacking intent, not least in Cristiano Ronaldo, who has scored 39 goals for his country.
The match may also rekindle memories of when the countries met in the semi-finals of Euro 2004 in Portugal. The hosts won 2-1 in Lisbon with goals from Ronaldo and Maniche.