• Analysis

Match Preview: Netherlands vs Northern Ireland

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The European Qualifiers return this weekend, as we have October’s international break upcoming.

Netherlands welcome Northern Ireland in a game which could be decisive for the final outcome in Group C.

The visitors know a draw would be enough to keep themselves above the Dutch national side when they face them in Rotterdam this evening.

Northern Ireland shares the top of the table with Germany, both of them with 12 points out of 15 available.

Holland sits in third, three points behind the spots that guarantee a place at the 2020 UEFA EURO next summer.

However, they have a game in spare, and a perfect opportunity to pass the Northern Ireland National Team with a win at the De Kuip stadium tonight.

The Dutch side won their qualifying encounters in September, beating both Germany and Estonia away, 4-2 and 4-0 respectively.

Team news

Ronald Koeman doesn’t have any injury concerns ahead of a really decisive week for his side’s potential progress to the EURO.

PSV forward Donyell Malen, who had an excellent debut, netting against Germany one month ago is expected to start as Koeman’s ‘number nine’ striker.

Northern Ireland have been dealt a blow by the withdrawal of Norwich City left-back Jamal Lewis, who has sustained a knee injury.

Hearts striker Conor Washington is also out with an injury, while Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn is the one who has the whole country’s eyes on him thanks to brilliant form in the Premier League over the past few weeks.

Talk to the press

Dutch head coach Ronald Koeman believes the Northern Ireland boys may not have the technical quality, but they cover it with their amazing fighting spirit.

“They are fighting machines,” he said according to Belfast Telegraph “Perhaps they haven’t got the structure or quality technically but it’s very direct, direct confrontations.

“They are a team that can make the games difficult for any opponent and we have to see how we can find the solutions. If they can get at you they will and they will get you by the throat. You’ve got to be prepared for that.”

“It can be that home and away there is a difference in their game,” he added. “I think they had the idea to perhaps try and finish Germany off and for an hour they were able to live with them and had better opportunities.

“But from the moment they went 1-0 down you can see the spaces increase and the Germans took advantage.”

Stats

The Netherlands have won six of their last seven competitive games at home, with their only defeat coming to Germany back in March.

Northern Ireland’s only loss in their last five games (home and away) also came from Die Mannschaft, as they won the other four matches.

They’ve never registered a win in Holland though, noting two draws in their two official games there.

The most recent meeting between both sides was a friendly one and it finished with a 6-0 win in favor of the Netherlands back in June 2012.

Northern Ireland has the best defense in Group C, with only four goals conceded in the European Qualifiers so far.

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