OLD enemies lock horns in Amsterdam on Sunday night as the Netherlands tackle Germany in a Euro 2020 qualifying showdown. Gab Sutton (@_FootbalLab) shares his thoughts on how the match might play out.
Netherlands v Germany | Sunday 24th March 2019, 19:45 | Sky Sports
The clash of the fallen giants.
Netherlands and Germany are two proud footballing countries who have given so much to the international game – and yet, neither are quite at the peak of their powers.
Oranje did not manage to even qualify for the last World Cup, having finished third in their group narrowly behind France and Sweden.
Die Mannschaft, meanwhile, did make it to Russia 2018 but finished bottom of Group F; Toni Kroos’ last-minute free-kick that gave them a 2-1 win over Sweden proved in vain, after a 2-0 loss to South Korea in the following game.
Who will bounce back?
Depay drives the Dutch
Memphis Depay did not quite fit in at Manchester United, after a mega move from PSV in 2015.
He was far too languid without the ball, never tracked back and perhaps struggled to adjust to being in a team with several other big name players, rather than the main man.
Since leaving Old Trafford in 2017 however, the inside forward has re-build his career with 35 goals in all competitions for Lyon from the start of last season.
That has helped his international form too, with the 25-year-old bagging six goals in his last five games for Holland after a brace capped a star performance in Thursday’s 4-0 win over Belarus.
Ronald Koeman’s side were dominant throughout that match with 62% possession, which is unlikely to re-occur here. However, the nature of the goals from Depay, as well as one apiece from Liverpool duo Georginio Wijnaldum and Virgil Van Dijk, suggests they could adapt to a different scenario.
It was not necessarily as if the Netherlands carefully constructed their moves, but rather that they attacked with pace and intensity which meant, even if they did give the ball away temporarily, there would be numbers swarming around the opponents to steal it back.
Wijnaldum, the most advanced of the midfielders, Depay, plus wide forwards Steven Bergwijn and Ryan Babel are all real athletes and that can give them an advantage in transition.
Germany feeling low
After reaching the Semi-Finals of Euro 2016, Germany extended Joachim Low’s contract for another four years.
Of course, it is easy to say things in hindsight, but that now looks like a mistake after a disastrous World Cup.
Low picked a 27-man squad for Russia including just seven players under 25, of which arguably the best, direct runner Julian Brandt, did not start a single game with a combined 19 minutes of action.
The squad was skewed in favour of technicians most comfortable in central areas, with not enough players stretching the play – the decision to leave out Leroy Sane after his outstanding campaign for Manchester City is one Germany must surely regret.
Low has at least corrected the situation by calling time on the international careers of Thomas Muller and Jerome Boateng – although he has continued to start Manuel Neuer despite Marc-Andre ter Stegen looking by far the better goalkeeper at present.
There was an improvement in performance in Wednesday’s 1-1 home draw with Serbia, but still Germany gave away two clear-cut chances in the first half with a young defence taking time to adjust.
Although Low has laid the foundations for the overhaul the squad needs, one still feels Germany require a new coach to bring fresh ideas, encourage a higher-tempo game, add width, improve the work out of possession and trust youth out of principle, rather than pressure.
While the management team and supporters have slightly strained relations, Germany could struggle in Amsterdam.
The Betting Angle
Memphis Depay and Holland to win is an attractive 10/3 with Paddy Power. Considering that he will be the most advanced player in a rejuvenated Oranje outfit, has the pace to relish extra gaps in behind, that looks good value – especially when we bear in mind Germany’s position.
Netherlands v Germany – Memphis Depay to score and Netherlands to win (10/3 Paddy Power)