Netherlands will be eager to lock down top spot in Group C of the UEFA Euro Qualifiers when they welcome Estonia to Johan Cruijff ArenA on Tuesday.
The curtains will fall on the first phase of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, as Matchday 10 comes to a close on Tuesday. For Netherlands, qualification for next summer’s tournament might be secured, but top spot in Group C is still in their sights, which they will look to grab when they play hosts to Estonia at Johan Cruijff ArenA.
Netherlands have been on a resurgent run under the tutelage of Ronald Koeman. Having reached the final of the UEFA Nations League, the Oranje are set to play their first major tournament in six years, after they booked their place at the UEFA Euro 2020 following a 0-0 draw with Northern Ireland.
Estonia, on the other hand, have been engrossed in a struggle to get off the bottom of Group C, managing just the solitary point in seven games so far. In fact, the Sinisargid have scored just two goals in their qualifying campaign and are set to see their unenviable record of never qualifying for the World Cup or European Championships extend.
The reverse fixture, played in Talinn on Matchday 6 ended in a comfortable 4-0 win for Netherlands, with Ryan Babel, Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum finding the net. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Ronald Koeman had already been forced to make some changes when his side took on Northern Ireland last time out. And, heading into Matchday 10 of the UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifiers, the Netherlands head coach will have to chop and change further.
Koeman was bereft of the services of Steven Bergwijn (hamstring) and Donyell Malen (ankle) heading into the latest international break. He was then forced to omit Memphis Depay (thigh) and Georginio Wijnaldum (illness) against Northern Ireland. The latest blow comes in the form of Virgil van Dijk and Ryan Babel pulling out of the Netherlands squad.
Babel sustained a knock last time out, while van Dijk has withdrawn due to personal reasons. Meanwhile, Marten de Roon will play no part against Estonia due to a suspension incurred because of an accumulation of yellow cards. But, Koeman might have some respite in the form of Depay’s return, with the star forward training ahead of the game.
As things stand, though, Koeman might not risk Depay, especially with qualification for the European Championships already sealed. If needed, the Lyon superstar could be an option from the bench. In his stead, the Netherlands boss could hand Myron Boadu his international debut, with the AZ Alkmaar striker leading the line against Estonia.
Quincy Promes and Steven Berghuis, though, should keep hold of their places, flanking Boadu. With Wijnaldum likely to miss out once again, Donny van de Beek will reprise the no. 10 role. Davy Propper should replace de Roon, partnering Frenkie de Jong in the midfield double pivot.
The defence should see a couple of changes, one forced by the absence of van Dijk. Nathan Ake will likely accompany Matthijs de Ligt at the heart of Netherlands’ defence, while Denzel Dumfries ought to come into the team as the right-back. Daley Blind will start on the opposite flank, with Jasper Cillessen taking his place in goal.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Cillessen; Dumfries, de Ligt, Ake, Blind; Propper, de Jong; Berghuis, van de Beek, Promes; Boadu
Like his counterpart, Karel Voolaid has seen a player withdraw his name from his squad, with Enar Jaager pulling out due to a heel injury, while Gert Kems is a major doubt. The Estonia head coach is also expected to make some rotations, with nothing but pride to play for.
Sergei Lepmets is likely to start between the sticks, replacing Matvei Igonen in Estonia’s goal. Kams is unlikely to start, with Taijo Teniste expected to start on the right side of the defence. Nikita Baranov should have Karol Mets as his central defensive partner, with Artur Pikk starting as the left-back.
Voolaid is likely to shuffle his formation, with a 4-2-3-1 likely to be preferred. The midfield double pivot should have Ilja Antonov give company to Mihkel Ainsalu, with captain Konstantin Vassilev being given the free role to pull the strings in the final third.
Henri Anier ought to lead the line for Estonia once again, with Frank Liivak and Sander Puri being the two wide men against Netherlands.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Lepmets; Teniste, Baranov, Mets, Pikk; Ainsalu, Antonov; Puri, Vassiljev, Liivak; Anier
- Tuesday’s encounter will be the sixth meeting between Netherlands and Estonia. The Oranje are unbeaten in five previous fixtures, winning four of the games (D1).
- Estonia have only managed to find the back of the net three times in their last ten games.
- Twenty five of Netherlands’ last 33 goals have been scored in or after the 55th minute of their games.
- Estonia have failed to win each of their last seven games, losing six of those fixtures (D1).
- Memphis Depay has scored ten goals in his last 13 games for the Netherlands. All bar one were scored in the final 35 minutes of the game, including four in the last seven minutes of matches.
Player to Watch
With Ryan Babel out injured and Memphis Depay unlikely to be risked by Ronald Koeman, Promes will be looked upon to make the difference in the final third. The 27-year-old has been in inspired form at club level, and a strong showing against Estonia could pave the way for a crucial win, if Netherlands are to clinch top spot in Group C.
Netherlands 3-0 Estonia
There is no other way the game is going. The goalless draw could be seen as a setback, but Estonia are unlikely to put nearly as much of a resistance. With some players having a point to prove, Netherlands could make quick work of their visitors, and The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for Ronald Koeman & co.