The Netherlands vs Northern Ireland: Match preview

The Netherlands are on course to qualify for their first major tournament since 2014, and can secure their place with a point against Northern Ireland on Saturday.

However, with injuries throughout the squad and an opponent that, in dire need of a result, will be cheered on by a boisterous Belfast crowd, the Oranje will surely need to be better than they were in the last round of fixtures to end 2019 on a high.

How things stand

With two games to go, the Oranje lead Germany thanks to their superior head to head record, while Northern Ireland are a further two points behind.

Not only will the Dutch top their group if they beat Northern Ireland and Estonia, but will also be seeded for the group stage draw at the end of the month as one of the six best performing teams in qualifying. A draw may be enough to qualify, but they need to play to win.

Northern Ireland meanwhile know they need to win a least one and probably both of their final two matches to give themselves a chance of finishing in the top two. With the opposition being the Netherlands and Germany, this is a tall order.

Team news

Ronald Koeman has perhaps faced more injury issues for this international break than any other in his reign as manager.

Steven Bergwijn and Donyell Malen are both injured, so AZ duo Calvin Stengs and Myron Boadu were called up for the first time. With said injuries and questions surrounding the fitness of Memphis Depay, both could make their debuts.

It’s also not certain that Georginio Wijnaldum will be ready. The Liverpool man has missed training sessions with the flu since arriving for international duty, so Donny van de Beek could start in the number 10 role. However, Gini was pictured training yesterday, so he should be ok to play.

The other new addition to the squad is striker Wout Weghorst. Koeman usually puts him in the preliminary but not the final squad, so the Wolfsburg man will be hoping to stake a claim for a permanent role.

Potential starting XI

The Netherlands - Football tactics and formations

Previous meetings

When the sides last met in October, the Dutch scraped through to secure a dramatic late victory.

Northern Ireland took the lead in the 75th minute through a header from Josh Magennis after sitting back all game. In need of a goal, the Netherlands threw men forward and quickly equalised through Memphis Depay.

Luuk de Jong then bundled the ball in in the 91st to give his country the win before Depay scored a third in the 94th.

The last time the two played on Northern Irish soil was in 1977 and saw the Oranje, captained by Johan Cruyff, win 1-0. The last and only time Northern Ireland prevailed was in 1965 with a 2-1 victory.


Northern Ireland proved a stern test for the Netherlands last time out, and are undoubtedly a better team when playing on home turf. The Oranje also have considerable injury issues, so three points will not be easy to get.

Nevertheless, Northern Ireland need to win and therefore will not be able to park the bus and frustrate the Dutch as they did in the reverse fixture.

While this could lead to a busier night for the backline, it will also provide far more opportunities for the team going forward, both in possession and on the counter-attack.

Given all this, Koeman’s side should be able to prevail and book their spot for Euro 2020 with a win. Prediction: Northern Ireland 0-2 The Netherlands

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