The rivalry between the Netherlands and Germany must be one of the oldest – and most intense – not only in Europe, but in the entire world when it comes to football. These two nations simply can’t stand each other, and most of the times, this results in intense, back-and-forth matches every time these two sides meet each other. Such was the case this Saturday, when the Netherlands hosted Germany in the third matchweek of the UEFA Nations League.
Contrary to what many would have expected, though, it was the Dutch side that came out on top. A well-organised Dutch side – that has improved massively since the arrival of Ronald Koeman – took another step towards the right direction and secured a big 2-0 win over Germany. Virgil Van Dijk and Memphis Depay scored for the Oranjes, one in each half.
Germany gets a better start, but that’s not enough
Joachim Low’s men got off to a better start in this game, though. As expected, neither side took too many risks early on, but Germany quickly began to generate chances and by the time the clock reached the 15th minute mark, Jasper Cillessen had already began to work. Timo Werner first tested him with an effort that went sailing over the left post, and Thomas Müller tried his luck from the edge of the box a few minutes later. Cillessen, however, responded every time he was needed. And it only a matter of time before the Dutch side responded.
That’s exactly what they did and while it took them nearly 30 times to get closer to Manuel Neuer’s goal, they took advantage of the first clear chance they generated. A corner kick from the right side of the pitch was met by Ryan Babel, whose powerful header bounced off the crossbar only to met Virgil van Dijk, who simply nodded the ball home with no opposition. Neuer should be the one to blame for the goal, though – no one knows what he was doing but it seemed he was a step slow in trying to stop the Dutch attack.
There would be more action after Van Dijk’s goal, though. Georginio Wijnaldum almost doubled the Dutch lead with a strike from outside the box that went slightly wide, and Müller responded with a shot of his own that also went off target. The first half ended 1-0, but it was things would continue with a lot of intensity after the break.
Germany’s attempts come up empty…
Germany tried to continue with the same intensity they showed during the first 45 minutes, but they found themselves with a huge problem: the Dutch’s discipline on the defensive side of the ball. Time and time again, the Netherlands dropped back trying to limit spaces for Germany and the strategy worked to perfection. It worked so well, that Löw was forced to use two substitutions before the 60th minute mark when Julian Draxler and Leroy Sane replaced Emre Can and Müller, respectively.
The Manchester City winger was the spark Germany needed to turn things around, as he needed less than 10 minutes to create two clear scoring chances. However, either the Dutch defense or Cillessen’s heroics denied him. Draxler tested his luck with a volley that went over the bar in the 70th minute, and Toni Kroos attempted to repeat what he did in the 2018 FIFA World Cup when he saved Germany with a free kick, but this time, his effort went wide.
…but the Dutch side closed things out down the stretch
We have talked a lot regarding the Dutch’s performance on defence in this second half, but the reality is that they were intelligent. They didn’t take too many risks on the attacking end and their best chance was a header from Memphis Depay that went straight towards Neuer. But the former Manchester United star had his revenge, and scored the Dutch’s second goal in the 87th minute when he found the back of the net following an impressive individual effort from Quincy Promes on a 2-on-1 counter attack. The former Spartak Moscow star had entered the game in the second half and, similar to Sane, he didn’t waste time to leave a mark.
Germany didn’t have more time to turn things around – despite Timo Werner’s sublime shot in the 89th minute – as the Netherlands closed the door on a potential comeback with Depay’s goal. The Lyon star could have added a third goal, but his shot rattled the crossbar when Neuer was absolutely beaten. It would be Giorginio Wijnaldum who added a third goal, though. The Liverpool playmaker sealed the deal when he placed the ball out of Neuer’s reach after leaving two defenders behind.
The win sends a message to the rest of Europe, as the Netherlands are ready to get back to the spot they should have never left in the first place. Meanwhile, Germany’s struggles continue, and Löw’s seat as Germany’s manager is getting hotter and hotter by the minute.
Netherlands: Cillessen; Dumfries, de Ligt, Van Dijk, Blind; de Roon, F. de Jong (Ake, 77′), Wijnaldum; Bergwjin (Groeneveld, 68′), Depay, Babel (Promes, 68′)
Subs not used: Bizot (GK), Zoet (GK), de Vrij, Hateboer, Vilhena, van de Beek, Strootman, L. de Jong
Germany: Neuer; Ginter, Boateng, Hummels, Hector; Kimmich; Müller (Sane, 57′), Kroos, Emre Can (Draxler, 57′), Werner; Uth (Brandt, 68′)
Subs not used: ter Stegen (GK), Leno (GK), Kehrer, Sule, Tah, Rudy, Schulz, Gnabry
Goals: Van Dijk (1-0, 30′), Depay (2-0, 87′), Wijnaldum (3-0, 90+3′)
Referee: C. Cakir (Turkey)
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
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