Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has warned his players not to take Germany lightly in their Euro 2020 qualifier on Sunday.
World Cup winners in 2014, Joachim Low’s side offered a meek title defence in Russia as they bowed out at the group stage, and they were subsequently relegated from the Nations League top tier having finished bottom of a group featuring Netherlands and France.
Low caused controversy earlier this month by dropping Thomas Muller, Jerome Boateng and Mats Hummels from his squad, while Die Mannschaft were booed off at half-time in Wednesday’s 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia in Wolfsburg.
Koeman, who saw his side stretch their unbeaten run to five matches with a 4-0 win over Belarus in their opening Group C game on Thursday, is adamant that Low’s men should not be underestimated and he sees some similarities with his own situation when he took charge of the national team last year.
“If you don’t lose for a long time, there will be a moment you do lose, even though we would like to stay in our winning ways,” he told a media conference.
“If you compare the two squads, it’s more clear on our side. Our players look more confident, sometimes a bit too arrogant against Belarus. But we do realise that we have to be at our best because Germany has really good players that can make our lives miserable.
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“Of course, there’s some parallels. They’re rejuvenating, they’ve tried different formations like I did. I too started with five defenders, but we switched to a different system, which we will keep for now.
“We’ve tried to develop young players, that’s what’s Germany is doing now as well. Maybe it’s easier to just start with new players than having to say goodbye to older players – that’s what’s happened in Germany. Muller, Boateng and Hummels still play at the highest level. But that’s their problem.”
Memphis Depay was instrumental in the emphatic win over Belarus, scoring twice and creating the other two.
Koeman attributes the 25-year-old’s form to the greater freedom he enjoys with the national team than at Lyon, but admits there is still room for improvement for the former Manchester United forward.
“I don’t do anything special with Memphis, I only give him confidence,” he added.
“But of course, he has a lot more freedom here than at his club. He’s playing centrally with lots of freedom and he has a good connection with [Ryan] Babel, [Steven] Bergwijn and [Georginio] Wijnaldum. We’ve tried to develop that.
“From the moment he walks in, he’s having fun. That’s like it should be. But not everything is good. Some things still need to get better. That’s what we talk about.”
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