Netherlands will look to move on top of Group C table in the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers as they lock horns with Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Netherlands have a great chance to jump ahead of Germany at the top of the Group C standings in the qualifying stage of the European Championship 2020 this week. But, they will face a stern test against high-flying Northern Ireland at the Feyenoord Stadium on Thursday evening.

The Oranje are currently third in the table, having picked up nine points in four games. They are trailing leaders Germany and second-placed Northern Ireland by three points. However, they have a game in hand and they could overtake Die Mannschaft with a win, owing to their superior goal difference in matches played between the two nations.

Speaking of the opponent, Northern Ireland failed to retain their hundred percent record, when they lost to Germany in their last game. And they are expected to have a tough ride from now on, having already played both Estonia and Belarus twice.

The Netherlands, meanwhile, are coming on the back of two wins in a row, one of which came against Germany in a famous 4-2 victory in Wolfsburg. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over the two sides ahead of this important matchup this week.

Team News & Tactics

Netherlands

Netherlands head coach Ronald Koeman is unlikely to make any real changes to the side that won against Estonia in the last match. Donyell Malen could once again lead the line, after an incredible start to the campaign. The youngster will get the nod ahead of Luuk de Jong in the number nine slot.

Malen will be supported by the wide attacking duo of Memphis Depay and Ryan Babel, who scored twice in the last game. Steven Berghuis is also an option for Koeman.

HAMBURG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 06: Memphis Depay of Netherlands controls the ball during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier match between Germany and Netherlands at Volksparkstadion on September 06, 2019 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Depay’s presence in attack will be key. (Photo by Maja Hitij/Bongarts/Getty Images)

Georginio Wijnaldum is likely to retain his place in the advanced midfield role, ahead of Kevin Strootman. He will be partnered by Frenkie de Jong and Marten de Roon, who will replace Davy Propper. However, Donny van de Beek is also an option, should Koeman opt for more flair in the final third.

And finally, in defence, Joel Veltman could once again start over Denzel Dumfries at right-back. The experienced defender has the composure to keep out the threat of the Northern Ireland wingers. Patrick van Aanholt, meanwhile, might be rewarded with a berth in the starting lineup after helping Crystal Palace achieving an excellent start to the campaign. He will be deployed at left-back.

The central defensive pairing will comprise of Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt while Jasper Cillessen will also retain his place in between the sticks.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Cillessen; Veltman, de Ligt, van Dijk, van Aanholt; de Roon, Wijnaldum, de Jong; Depay, Malen, Babel

Northern Ireland

Unlike Koeman, Northern Ireland coach Michael O’Neill has been dealt with a massive problem after star full-back Jamal Lewis has withdrawn from the team due to injury. The Norwich City left-back has been ruled out this week and will likely be replaced by Stuart Dallas, with Conor McLaughlin shifting to the opposite flank.

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - SEPTEMBER 11: Jamal Lewis of Northern Ireland during the international friendly football match between Northern Ireland and Israel at Windsor Park on September 11, 2018 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Lewis’ absence will be a massive blow for Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

No changes are necessary in central defence, with Jonny Evans and Craig Cathcart forming a partnership at the heart of O’Neill’s favoured four-man backline. They will have a busy evening keeping hold of Netherlands’ pacy attackers.

Elsewhere, O’Neill could persist with the same 4-5-1 formation, with veteran Steven Davis operating as the lone holding midfielder. The ex-Southampton star will be in charge of disrupting the opponent’s flow in midfield. He will also be partnered by Paddy McNair and George Saville, both of who are also expected to sit deep.

And finally, in attack, Conor Washington is out injured, paving the way for Josh Magennis to lead the Northern Ireland attack. He will be partnered by Niall McGinn and Corry Evans in the wider attacking positions.

Probable Lineup (4-5-1): Peacock-Farell; McLaughlin, Cathcart, Evans, Dallas; C. Evans, Saville, Davis, McNair, McGinn; Magennis

Key Stats

  • Netherlands have won their previous two fixtures against Northern Ireland.
  • Northern Ireland failed to score in both these ties.
  • The last time these two met was in 2012, with Netherlands registering a 6-0 victory.
  • The last time Northern Ireland won against the Netherlands was back in 1965.
  • Only once have the Netherlands failed to score twice or more when in front of their home crowd while playing against Northern Ireland.

Player to Watch

Donyell Malen

HAMBURG, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 06: Donyell Malen celebrates after scoring his team's third goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 qualifier match between Germany and Netherlands at Volksparkstadion on September 06, 2019 in Hamburg, Germany. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

One to keep an eye on. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

As iterated earlier, all eyes will be on Donyell Malen, who is expected to lead the line for the hosts this week. The Dutchman has already netted ten goals in just nine matches and is one of the hottest attacking prospects in all of Europe.

The 20-year-old also performed quite well in the last game against Estonia, though he failed to score. Regardless, his blazing performances in the Eredivisie have already attracted interest from all across Europe and scouts from big clubs will surely be keeping an eye on this game.

Therefore, it will be interesting to see how this young man performs against Northern Ireland, knowing a good performance could help him gain some traction in the UK, ultimately making it easier for the Premier League giants to sign him up.

Prediction

Netherlands 3-1 Northern Ireland

The Netherlands have been on an excellent run of form, and that is unlikely to stop this week. We expect the hosts to maintain their scoring run against a Northern Ireland side, who will be without the services of both Washington and Lewis.

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