Netherlands will hope to build on their comeback win over Germany when they take on Estonia at the A. Le Coq Arena on Monday.
The first international break of the 2019-20 season is nearing its end, with teams winding up their campaigns for the month. Matchday 6 of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers is underway in Europe and one of the marquee names in action on Monday will be Netherlands, who will face Estonia at the A. Le Coq Arena.
Estonia have been the whipping boys of Group C of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, having lost each of their four games so far. These defeats included an 8-0 trouncing at the hands of Germany, with the most recent failure coming against Belarus at home – a 2-1 loss, thanks to an injury time goal by Maksim Skavysh.
Netherlands, on the other hand, have been on a steady upward trajectory under Ronald Koeman. The Oranje reached the final of the UEFA Nations League, falling short at the final hurdle and are currently placed third in Group C, albeit with at least one game in hand over the others. And, they will be riding high on confidence after coming from behind to beat Germany 4-2 last time out.
Estonia and Netherlands last clashed over six years ago, with the game ending in a 2-2 draw, with the Dutch squandered an early lead before coming back from 2-1 down to earn the stalemate. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Karel Voolaid could ring in a few changes to his side after a disappointing result against Belarus last time out. While the Estonia boss does not have any fresh injury concerns to deal with, he is expected to make a few shuffles in each of the outfield departments in his side.
Mihkel Aksalu though, is likely to keep his place in goal for the hosts and he is likely to be a busy man between the sticks on Monday. The defensive line in front of him could see a couple of changes, with Ragnar Klavan and Artur Pikk keeping their places on the left half of the back four.
Klavan’s partner at the heart of Estonia’s defence should be Madis Vihmann, who will replace Joonas Tamm. Gert Kams is likely to be the right-back for Estonia, with Taijo Teniste making way for the 34-year-old. The two changes are likely to be made with the thought of bolstering defence.
The three-man midfield that Voolaid is expected to deploy should see Karol Mets taking his secondary position of the defensive midfielder, where he will hope to keep the backline out of danger. Mattias Kait will likely be the player who will provide the forward thrust from the middle of the park.
The one change in midfield made by the Estonia boss should see Mihkel Ainsalu replace veteran midfielder Konstantin Vassiljev. Up ahead in attack, Erik Sorga should lead the line for Sinisargid, with Frank Liivak and Henrik Ojamaa being the two wide men, who will largely aim to create overloads in the central areas, allowing the full-backs to bomb forward.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Aksalu; Kams, Vihmann, Klavan, Pikk; Kait, Mets, Ainsalu; Liivak; Sorga, Ojamaa
Ronald Koeman will be forced to make one change to the side that started against Germany. The Netherlands head coach will be without Maarten de Roon, who is suspended after picking up his second booking of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers campaign.
In his absence, it is likely that Davy Propper will be entrusted with the responsibility of keeping things tight in the middle of the park, with Frenkie de Jong sitting alongside him in the double pivot. The Barcelona midfielder will pull the strings from the central areas while also doing his bit on the defensive front.
There is only likely to be one further change that Koeman should make, as the Netherlands boss ought to be wary about dropping any more points and risk falling further behind Northern Ireland and Germany, even though they have a game in hand. PSV Eindhoven striker Donyell Malen impressed for the Oranje against Germany, netting the winner of the contest on debut.
Malen should thus, be rewarded with a place in the starting lineup, where he will replace Quincy Promes. Memphis Depay should move out onto the left side of the Netherlands attack as a result, with Ryan Babel starting on the opposite flank. Georginio Wijnaldum will reprise the no. 10 role, from where he will have the license to bombard the Estonia box.
At the back, Virgil van Dijk will have Matthijs de Ligt as his partner at the heart of the Netherlands defence, while Daley Blind and Denzel Dumfries should continue as the two full-backs. Jasper Cillessen will take his place in goal for the visitors.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Cillessen; Dumfries, de Ligt, van Dijk, Blind; Propper, de Jong; Babel, Wijnaldum, Depay; Malen
- Netherlands are yet to face defeat af the hands of Estonia after four meetings, winning three of those encounters (D1).
- In each of these games played between Netherlands and Estonia, the hosts have managed to find the back of the net at least twice, with the two meetings in Estonia witnessing goals at both ends.
- Estonia have lost each of their last 7 European Championship qualifiers.
- In fact, in five of these seven fixtures, Estonia have failed to trouble the score keepers.
- Netherlands have scored at least two goals in each of their last five UEFA Euro Qualifiers, while Estonia have conceded at least twice in their last four European Championships qualifying fixtures.
Player to Watch
Estonia are in dire straits and it does not look like things will improve for them any time soon. With a spirited and resurgent Netherlands side paying them a visit, the hosts would know that they will not stand a chance unless they tighten things at the back.
To that end, Klavan is a player who desperately needs to step up for Estonia. As the captain of the side, the amount of errors he is prone to is rather alarming. On his last legs as an international player, this is his chance to make an impact and help Estonia salvage some pride. Will he rise to the occasion?
Estonia 0-4 Netherlands
The difference between the two teams is simply like chalk and cheese. Estonia are the minnows in European football and have expectedly been beaten in each of their games so far. Netherlands, on the other hand, are riding high on a wave of confidence following their comeback win over Germany.
While the Oranje do look a bit suspect at the back, the goal shy Estonian side is unlikely to test them much. And, Netherlands should exploit the hosts’ own defensive weakness with aplomb. The Hard Tackle predicts a 4-0 win for the visitors, who should walk all over Estonia.