Netherlands and Germany will be striving for early bragging rights in Group C of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers when they meet at Amsterdam ArenA.
The UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers has only been underway for a few days, and Matchday 2 is already here, as games continue to come thick and fast. And, in what is perhaps the most highly anticipated fixture of the entire international break, Netherlands will host Germany in a Group C tie as the two favourites lock horns.
Netherlands have been on a roll lately, with Ronald Koeman bringing the much needed Midas Touch upon being appointed last year. The Oranje have lost just twice under the legendary former centre-back and have made it to the UEFA Nations League Finals, due to be played in the summer.
Clinching Group 1 of League A has already guaranteed them a place in the qualifying playoffs. But, after kicking off their campaign with a 4-0 thumping of Belarus, the Dutch will now be eager to book an automatic spot, especially after missing the last two major international tournaments.
Germany, on the other hand, continue to be in the doldrums. If their ouster from the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the very first stage was not embarrassment enough, Joachim Low’s men were also left red faced in the UEFA Nations League, having been relegated to the second division.
Die Mannschaft had met Netherlands twice in their Nations League campaign, failing to beat them on both occasions. And, Germany did not warm themselves up for their latest test against Koeman & co. in the best possible way, having been held to a 1-1 draw by Serbia this week.
Sunday’s fixture will be the third time in the last six months that Germany and Netherlands will be facing off, with the most recent game ending in a 2-2 draw. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Netherlands’ emphatic win over Belarus came at a cost, with both the right-backs in the squad Kenny Tete and Denzel Dumfries picking up injuries. Tete had replaced Dumfries in the second half, and had to come off shortly due to a hamstring injury.
The Lyon defender has been replaced by Hans Hateboer in the squad, and the Atalanta full-back could slot straight into the starting lineup, with Dumfries being doubtful. Ronald Koeman is unlikely to take chances with the fitness of players, meaning Hateboer should start.
The rest of the side should remain the same, with the Netherlands head coach choosing to play his first-choice players in every position. Marten de Roon’s slot in midfield seems to be the only one that can be contested, with Davy Propper being his alternative. But, the 27-year-old should keep his place.
Steven Bergwijn also seems to have usurped Quincy Promes in attack, and the PSV Eindhoven winger should slot in on the right flank once again. Memphis Depay, who will lead the line for Netherlands against Germany, will be the key man, after scoring two goals and assisting the other two on Thursday.
Ryan Babel will provide a pacy outlet on the left flank, while Frenkie de Jong will pull the strings from the middle of the park. The energy of Georginio Wijnaldum will come in handy as well, especially to throw off Toni Kroos.
At the back, the central defensive partnership of Matthijs de Ligt and Virgil van Dijk makes Netherlands look almost impregnable, while Daley Blind provides the guile from the left-back slot. Jasper Cillessen is a reliable presence in goal for the hosts.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Cillessen; Hateboer, de Ligt, van Dijk, Blind; de Roon, de Jong, Wijnaldum; Bergwijn, Depay, Babel
Joachim Low has had one casualty from his side’s game this week as well, with debutant Lukas Klostermann picking up a groin injury that will rule him out of the game against Netherlands. The injury will be a big blow for the RB Leipzig defender, who produced a fine showing on debut. In Klostermann’s stead, Thilo Kehrer is likely to deputise as the right-back.
Meanwhile, the big talking point will be Low’s formation of choice, having reverted to the 4-2-3-1 that he had not used since the end of Germany’s World Cup campaign. The change in formation did result in more fluidity in attack, although the team still does not seem to be playing to its potential.
But, Low should stick with the 4-2-3-1 for Sunday’s tie, although a few changes are in order. Jonathan Tah should make way for Antonio Rudiger, with Niklas Sule keeping his place at the heart of the defence. The left-back slot ought to be manned by Nico Schulz, who will replace Marcel Halstenberg.
The midfield double pivot is unlikely to be changed, with Joshua Kimmich and Toni Kroos being Low’s trusted lieutenants. Between the midfield and striker Timo Werner, however, there should be a couple of changes, with Leroy Sane the only one expected to keep his place in the attacking midfield line.
Marco Reus should be deployed in the number 10 role, although Leon Goretzka would have hoped to have done enough to earn a place in the starting lineup. The final spot in the side will likely be taken up by Serge Gnabry, who is available again after recovering from cold.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Neuer; Kehrer, Rudiger, Sule, Schulz; Kimmich, Kroos; Gnabry, Reus, Sane; Werner
- Germany and the Netherlands have met 42 times. Die Mannschaft have won 15 of those games (D16 L11).
- Germany are in one of their worst runs in history, having managed to win just 4 of the 14 games they have played over the last one year (D4 L6).
- Netherlands, on the other hand, have been formidable, especially at home, having conceded just three goals in their last nine home games.
- Virgil van Dijk has scored three goals in his last four games for Netherlands – he had found the back of the net just once in his first 21 appearances for his country.
- Memphis Depay (25y 36d) is the youngest player to reach 14 goals for the Dutch national team since Patrick Kluivert in 1999 (22y 339d).
Player to Watch
What a turnaround has it been for Netherlands. And, one of the players who has played a major role in the Dutch Renaissance is Memphis Depay. Deployed in a central role by Ronald Koeman, the Lyon forward has been a revelation, leading the line with aplomb.
His most recent outing, in the 4-0 mauling of Belarus, was the perfect example of the same, as Depay did not only take on the mantle of scoring for his side, but also set the goals up. In addition to netting a brace, the 25-year-old also provided the assists for the other two goals.
A display of a similar quality against Germany will certainly hold the hosts in good stead, with Joachim Low’s men posing a very vulnerable look at the back. Judging by his recent form for the Oranje, one can not rule out another emphatic showing by the confident forward.
Netherlands 3-1 Germany
Germany continue to have all sorts of troubles, having failed to get the better of a Serbia side that has not exactly managed to hurt the biggest of sides in recent years. Netherlands, on the other hand, can not do much wrong, with the 4-0 win over Belarus helping them build further momentum.
Safe with the knowledge that they have a playoff spot, no matter what, Netherlands seem to be playing without any fear, which makes a side very dangerous. And, with such a feeling, the hosts can hurt Germany, pretty badly.
Expect another comprehensive performance by Ronald Koeman’s men, which should help them amass three more points and build an early lead in the Group C standings. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-1 win for Netherlands, with Joachim Low & co. beginning their UEFA Euro 2020 qualifying campaign on a low.