Netherlands 2-3 Germany: Report, Ratings & Reaction as Die Mannschaft Grab Last Minute Winner

?Nico Schulz grabbed a dramatic last minute winner for Germany against the Netherlands to get their European Championship qualification campaign off to a winning start in the Johan Cruyff Arena.

Germany struck first in the 15th minute after a near post cross from Schulz was controlled by Leroy Sane, who was left free as a bird thanks to a Matthijs de Ligt slip, before the Manchester City forward finished brilliantly with a fine strike across the goalkeeper.

Nico Schulz

The Dutch were made to pay for missed chances after Serge Gnabry’s direct run was bettered only by an outstanding edge-of-the-box finish into the top corner to double Die Mannschaft’s advantage.

It was a different game in the second half however, and shortly after the interval, De Ligt headed in his first international goal after a wonderful in-swinging Memphis Depay cross, to pull one back for the hosts.

Just after the hour, the German defence failed to deal with a low cross, and Depay capitalised with a first-time finish in the area to equalise for the men in orange.

Germany snatched a win right at the death when substitute ?Marco Reus gave Schulz the simple task of finishing from 12-yards out to give Joachim Low a much needed win.


Key Talking Point

Unlike their rivals, Ronald Koeman’s young Dutch side are a team that are certainly going in the right direction, but their inexperience was badly exposed in the first half.

In particular, Virgil van Dijk and De Ligt simply could not cope with the trickery and pace of Sane and Gnabry, with the defence looking disorientated by the new German formation.


But Koeman must have given a hell of a team talk at half time, because the Dutch were a totally different side in the second period. They controlled the game much better and started running at the German defence with a real purpose.

Koeman had clearly recognised that Germany’s weak link was on the flanks, and they were determined to find a way through with relentless crosses, but their naivete struck late on as they left the excellent Schulz completely open in the box.

Despite the last minute sucker punch, the future is certainly bright for this Netherlands team, and on the evidence of the second half alone, they will be a serious threat at next summer’s championship.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Cililessen (7); Dumfries (6), De Ligt (6), Van Dijk (5), Blind (5); De Roon (5), Wijnaldum (6), De Jong (6); Promes (6), Depay (7), Babel (5).

Substitutes: Bergwijn (7), Luuk De Jong (N/A)

Star Man – Memphis Depay


Largely anonymous in the first half, Depay was instrumental in the Dutchmen’s second-half fight back. His pace and crossing ability were both on display and he gave the German back five problems throughout the half.

Koeman will be keen for his number nine to be more consistent, but he did step up once his side were 2-0 down, and he grabbed a deserved goal with a neat bottom corner finish.


Key Talking Point

Following a disastrous 2018, this was the German’s first competitive match since Low’s decision to close the door on the international careers of Thomas Muller, Mats Hummels and Jerome Boateng.


Low has been under serious pressure since the terrible World Cup and Nations League campaigns, and Die Mannschaft would have been looking to have a positive bounce without the World Cup winning triumvirate.

Germany started like a team who had a point to prove, and Low’s 3-5-2 formation confused the Dutch to the point where they quite frankly made Van Dijk and De Ligt look ordinary.

However, considering how comfortable they were, Low would have been extremely disappointed by the collapse in the second half, especially with their obvious inability to defend crosses being very much on display in this match.

With many suggesting that German football is in crisis, that last minute winner over their rivals was badly needed for Low and the team as a whole. Judging by the level of opposition in the group, the Germans will have no problems qualifying for next summer’s tournament.

Player Ratings

Starting XI: Neuer (8); Sule (7), Ginter (6), Rudiger (6); Kimmich (7), Kehrer (6), Goretzka (6), Kroos (6), Schulz (7); Gnabry (7), Sane (8).

Substitutes: Gundogan (6). Reus (7).

Star Man – Leroy Sane


Low raised many eyebrows last summer when he left Sane out of his 23-man World Cup squad, and the ?Manchester City forward just seems to get better and better every time he plays.

Van Dijk, who has often been described this season as the best defender in the world, was given an absolute run around by Sane, who played a more central role than he has in the past, but adapted brilliantly.

He was a constant nuisance for the Dutch defence to deal with, and his immense pace and dribbling ability is starting to be combined with a seriously intelligent footballing brain.

In the supposed new era for Die Mannschaft, this team absolutely needs to be built around the 23-year-old, who has become his national team’s star man.

Looking Ahead

The two sides will now break for nearly three months. The Netherlands will travel to Guimarães in Portugal on 6 June in the Nations League semi-final against England, before the final which takes place in Lisbon three days later.

Their next qualifier isn’t until 6 September, where they will face the Germans in the reverse fixture in Berlin, before travelling to Estonia on the 9th.

The German’s next match in the Euro 2020 qualifiers isn’t until early June, but they face the much easier prospect of a trip to Belarus, before they host Estonia on the 11th.


Eden Hazard Reveals the Highlight of His International Career as He Reaches 100 Appearances

Eden Hazard has claimed that Belgium’s quarter-final victory over Brazil at the 2018 World Cup is the highlight of his career, as he prepares to make his 100th appearance for the Red Devils. 

The Chelsea winger has scored 29 goals and provided 26 assists for his country since his debut in 2009, and has reached a century of international appearances in Belgium’s game against Cyprus on Sunday night. 


Speaking before the match, ?Hazard revealed that the 2-1 win against Brazil last summer was his crowing moment in the jersey. Belgium had taken a two-goal lead courtesy of a ?Fernandinho own goal and a strike from ?Kevin De Bruyne, before substitute Renato Augusto pulled back what turned out to be mere consolation.

Speaking to? L’Equipe, Hazard stated: ”The victory against Brazil was my best game in the individual aspect as well as the collective one. I perfectly succeeded in everything I was trying to do. Just like the team. 

”We were not seen as the favourites, as Brazil is one of the best nations. We had trouble in the second half and had a bit of luck too. But it’s still the most accomplished thing I have achieved, all teams included. Because of the emotion we’ve provided to the staff and the whole country was extreme.

”We had a lot of critics at the Euros and we weren’t far from an outing against Japan in the World Cup. It would have been seen as a total failure.”


Belgium were defeated by eventual champions France in the semi-finals, before overcoming England 2-0 to secure third position. Hazard scored his third goal of the tournament, having scored two previously in the 5-2 demolition of Panama in the group stage. 

That Panama game is also memorable to the former PFA Player of the Season, who explained: ”These are my first two goals in the World Cup, we won well and it’s also one of my best games, to start our second participation in this competition, we did not win it, but we finished third.

”The best result in the history of Belgium. We lost in the semi-finals against France on a corner. I will remember the feeling we left. We were not the best. But all the testimonials that I receive tell me that the most beautiful team was Belgium, I like to emphasise the pleasure and the memory that we have left.”


4 Positions Real Madrid Need to Strengthen & the Players They Should Sign to Fix Them

Real Madrid have endured a dreadful season by their own high standards and are on course for their worst overall performance since 2009. Other than the FIFA Club World Cup, Los Blancos will be trophyless this season, following the departure of Zinedine Zidane. 

Zidane opted to leave after a lack of domestic success and resigned in May last year, citing the club’s ‘need for change’ as his reason. New boss Julen Lopetegui proved a disaster taking the club to 10th before being dismissed for Santiago Solari. 

Results improved under Solari, but a shock Champions League exit to Ajax saw him dismissed as well, with Los Blancos turning back to Zidane. It’s a tough act to follow for the Frenchman after securing a record three consecutive Champions League titles in his first spell. 

One thing’s for sure – he’s going to need some new recruits and here are four areas we expect Zidane to address in the summer.    


Thibaut Courtois

It’s been a turbulent first season for Thibaut Courtois at Real Madrid, plagued by a series of high profile errors. The Belgian shot-stopper is undoubtedly one of the best in his position but his confidence has taken a real shot this season. 

Keylor Navas has also been deemed surplus to requirements so there’s not a lot of strong competition. Conceding too many goals has been a problem over the past few seasons and Madrid only have the seventh-best defensive record in La Liga this year. 

Suggested Options:

Salvatore Sirigu

To compete on all fronts they need at least strong competition for Courtois, at worst a number two who’s capable of stepping up at a moments notice. ?Manchester Unit?ed’s David de Gea has been on Los Blancos’ wish-list for a long time but may be considered too pricey with Courtois in the squad. 

Assuming the Belgian will maintain the number one spot, Torino shot-stopper Salvatore Sirigu could provide a capable and experienced back-up. Closer to home, Valencia’s Neto has one of the best defensive records in the league this season, with only Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak conceding fewer goals. 

Left Back


Another unsuspected flop this season has been the usually assured ?Marcelo. The Brazilian is one of the best attacking full-backs of his generation but at 30 years old there is a suggestion his best years are behind him.

Marcelo even lost his place in the starting line-up these season with Solari suggesting the player has gained some weight this season. It’s led to rumours of a departure with Real Madrid maybe looking to cash in whilst the player still has good value, so a replacement could be on the cards. 

Suggested Options:

Ryan Sessegnon

Replacing Marcelo will be a tall order after 12 years of service and he’s not much older than many of the current top players in his position so Madrid may look to potential over experience. We may be jumping the gun a little here but ?Fulham’s Ryan Sessegnon looks to be one of the hottest properties in that respect. 

He struggled to establish himself in the Premier League but he does have two goals and five assists at just 18-years-old this season. Another fairly inexpensive option is Lucas Digne, who’s already had spells with PSG and Barcelona. The Frenchman hasn’t quite cut it at the highest level but still has a lot to give.

Attacking Midfield


What Real Madrid need more than anything is a new talisman to help fill the huge boots vacated by ?Cristiano Ronaldo. He may be in the latter stages of his career but Los Blancos have missed his influence this season and their overall goal tally is way down. 

They already have plenty of talent in those wide areas and we think what they really need is a dynamic central star, playing with freedom behind the striker to tie it all together. Ballon d’Or winner ?Luka Modric doesn’t have the energy play in the advanced position and Toni Kroos doesn’t impact the game frequently enough for where Madrid want to be. 

Suggested Options:


The obvious choice is Neymar, the Brazilian is still expected to take up the mantle of GOAT following Lionel Messi’s retirement but we’re not convinced he’s the best fit for Madrid. We think the crown better fits another long-term Real Madrid target ?Eden Hazard. 

Christian Eriksen is another strong candidate who seems tailor-made to fill that void and we’d also like to give an honourable shout out to Kevin De Bruyne. Any of the trio of Premier League stars would be a real boost for Real Madrid and would come with considerably less baggage than the sometimes contentious Neymar, not to mention at a much more affordable rate. 



Build-up play is important but Real Madrid’s aforementioned goal tally is far below where it’s been in past season. Los Blancos scored 106 goals in their last title-winning season two years ago and 94 goals as they finished third last year. 

With 10 games left Madrid currently have scored just 49 goals, meaning they’d need to almost double that tally in the closing stages to maintain the pace. Questions over Karim Benzema’s record have been raised for a while but he is their top scorer this season.

Gareth Bale is the only other player to join him on double figures though, with promising newcomer Vinicius Jr bagging just two goals, they need some serious firepower. 

Suggested Options:


Los Blancos were linked with a move for Bayern Munich forward Robert Lewandowski last season and he remains a strong option. ?Harry Kane is another name that will undoubtedly be thrown up as Madrid could look to raid Tottenham again. 

Elsewhere, Lewandowski’s international teammate Krzysztof Piatek has catapulted himself onto the global stage for ?Milan this season, equalling Ronaldo as the second-highest scorer in Serie A. 

Another relative unknown option is Nicolas Pepe – the reported Arsenal and Bayern Munich target has 17 goals and 8 assists in Ligue 1 this season, and is at the same age as Piatek at just 23 years of age. 


Predicting Where the ‘Big Six’ Will Actually End Up in the Premier League Based on Remaining Games

The international break might be here, but there can be no doubting that the only football that people are truly looking forward to is how the business end of the Premier League seasons pans out.

In one of the most exciting and cut-throat title fights in recent years, Liverpool and Manchester City continue to set the league alight with a remarkable back-and-forth contest. Below them is an equally enticing top-four race, with Tottenham’s dramatic slump in form seeing them nervously looking behind their backs.

Spurs, Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea are all battling out for the two places remaining in the coveted Champions League spots, and each side can all make a genuine case for doing so.

With the disclaimer that I don’t have a mystic ball, below is a look at where the Premier League’s famed ‘big six’ might actually end up when it’s all said and done come 12 May.

6) Chelsea – 71 Points

Eden Hazard

?After a shock 2-0 defeat to Everton just before the international break, ?Chelsea missed the opportunity to go level on points with Arsenal in the hunt for a top four spot. Maurizio Sarri’s side have struggled to adapt to their new manager’s methods and out of the current top six, are perhaps the side looking the least likely to go on a significant winning run in the latter stages.

Even more importantly for the Blues was the kind Europa League draw they received for the quarter-finals, with the relatively less-fancied Slavia Prague. With a potential route into the Champions League next season coming via a triumph in this year’s Europa League, Sarri’s side may well ease off in the ?Premier League and put all their eggs in one basket. 

?Fixture ?Result ?Points (Currently on 57)
?Cardiff (A) ?W 2-0 ?60
?Brighton (H) ?W 3-0 ?63
?West Ham (H) ?D 2-2 ?64
?Liverpool (A) ?L 2-1 ?64
?Burnley (H) ?W 2-0 ?67
?Manchester United (A) ?D 1-1 ?68
?Watford (H) ?W 3-1 ?71
?Leicester (A) ?L 2-1 ?71

5) Manchester United – 73 Points


After a simply stunning run of form since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge, ?United were brought back down to Earth when they fell to a 2-0 defeat to top-four rivals Arsenal at the Emirates. That was then followed up with the Red Devils crashing out of the FA Cup quarter-finals in fairly meek fashion to Wolves, and may just be thankful that the international break has come up.

If United can stay injury-free, and that’s a big if, then Solskjaer’s side have every chance of going on another incredible winning run to finish in the top four. Their Premier League destiny undoubtedly rests upon their fixtures in April which read – Wolves (A), West Ham (H), Everton (A), Man City (H) and Chelsea (H). 

Those games also include a two-legged quarter-final against Barcelona in the Champions League sandwiched between them. The City and Chelsea games look particularly pivotal to their chances of finishing in the top four; win both and they should get there, drop points in both and that could well be the end.

Fixture? Result? Points (Currently on 58)?
?Watford (H) ?W 3-1 ?61
?Wolves (A) ?D 1-1 ?62
?West Ham (H) ?W 2-0 ?65
?Everton (A) ?L 2-1 ?65
?Manchester City (H) ?D 2-2 ?66
?Chelsea (H) ?D 1-1 ?67
?Huddersfield (A) ?W 3-0 ?70
?Cardiff (H) ?W 4-0 ?73

4) Arsenal – ?76 Points

Granit Xhaka,Alexandre Lacazette,Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Having suffered back-to-back defeats in their opening two games to both Manchester City and Chelsea, who would have predicted Unai Emery’s first season in charge of ?Arsenal would see them in the top four in the middle of March and in the quarter-finals of the Europa League? The Gunners have showcased that at home they are a formidable opposition, and in beating Manchester United, saw them leapfrog the Red Devils and into fourth.

That game against Solskjaer’s side was Arsenal’s last fixture against another member of the ‘big six’ and on paper, they have the best run-in towards the end of the season. However, their biggest issue lies in the away-heavy nature of their remaining games. After facing Newcastle at the Emirates when the clubs return from the international break, Emery’s side face five away games in their final seven. 

To add a little context, the Gunners have won just the one away fixture since December. If their Spanish boss can get their away form alive and kicking then the Gunners are well placed to make their return to the Champions League; if they can’t, then they will have nobody but themselves to blame.

?Fixture Result? ?Points (Currently on 60)
?Newcastle (H) W ?3-1 ?63
?Everton (A) D ?2-2 ?64
?Watford (A) L ?1-2 ?64
?Crystal Palace (H) W ?2-0 ?67
?Wolves (A) L ?2-1 ?67
?Leicester (A) W ?2-1 ?70
?Brighton (H) W ?3-0 ?73
?Burnley (A) ?W 2-0 ?76

3) Tottenham – 77 Points


?Out of all the sides in the ‘big six’ desperate for the international break, Mauricio Pochettino’s men needed it most. After being considered a dark horse in the title race just a month ago, a run of wretched ‘Spursy’ form has seen them fall out of contention for the league title, and more worryingly, looking over their shoulders to just stay in the top four. The north Londoners lie just three points above fifth-placed Manchester United, and still have to face both Liverpool and Manchester City in their remaining games.

An even bigger X-factor comes in the shape of their new stadium; set to be officially opened next month, ?Spurs could very well feed off the incredible atmosphere at their new ground and propel themselves back into winning form. Or, trying to adjust mid-season with a stadium move could prove to be too much too soon, and see them slip out of the top four altogether. 

Pochettino’s side also have the added element of their Champions League quarter-final with Manchester City as well, and that could prove to be a potentially season-defining ‘distraction’ for a set of players whose mentality has already been called into question in recent years.

?Fixture Result? Points (Currently on 61)?
?Liverpool (A) ?L 3-1 ?61
?Crystal Palace (H) ?W 2-1 ?64
?Huddersfield (H) ?W 3-0 ?67
?Manchester City (A) ?L 2-0 ?67
?Brighton (H) ?W 2-0 ?70
West Ham (H) W 2-1 ?73
?Bournemouth (A) ?D 2-2 ?74
?Everton (H) ?W 2-1 ?77

2) Liverpool – 93 Points


Two points clear of Manchester City (having played a game more), and a plum Champions League tie against Porto, it is all set up for ?Liverpool to have a truly legendary season. Jurgen Klopp’s men missed out on both last year, but have kept up the pace this season, and ?it would be truly heart-breaking for the passionate Anfield faithful to slip up once more. No pun intended.

The Reds’ most difficult fixtures come in the shape of Tottenham and Chelsea at home, and if the title race does come down to the final day, then they face a potentially trick clash against Wolves, who have been notoriously good against the division’s best sides this season.

As it always does when it comes to titles and trophies, it will come down to who can hold their nerve better. The Reds certainly have the technical quality to do so, and in Virgil van Dijk have a real leader at the back. Klopp’s biggest concern might be the allure and possible distraction of another Champions League final, and whether that might just take their eye off the ball in the league. 

The Reds face Porto, Chelsea and then Porto again in the space of eight days, and that one week will no doubt shape their destiny in the Premier League and in Europe.

Fixture? ?Result Points (Currently on 76)?
?Tottenham (H) ?W 3-1 ?79
?Southampton (A) ?D 2-2 ?80
?Chelsea (H) W ?2-1 ?83
?Cardiff (A) W ?4-1 ?86
??Huddersfield (H) W?4-0 ?89
?Newcastle(A) D?1-1 ?90
?Wolves(H) ?W2-1 ?93

1) Manchester City – 96 Points


The quadruple is well and truly on. City boss Pep Guardiola has done his best to downplay things at the Etihad, but with a Carabao Cup triumph under their belts, and ‘favourable’ draws in both the FA Cup and Champions League, the side could achieve something historic. 

The Citizens currently find themselves two points behind leaders Liverpool, but with a game in hand. Their biggest week of the season comes in mid-April when after facing Tottenham at home in the second leg of the Champions League quarter-finals, they host Pochettino’s side again just three days later, before rounding off a seismic few days with the small matter of the Manchester derby at Old Trafford.

Just as with Liverpool, how big a part will European commitments play on the nature of their Premier League performances? Certainly, City have more of a squad for Guardiola to choose from than his German counterpart at Anfield, but will the pressure of being favourites in almost all the competitions they’re involved in eventually take its toll? 

?Fixture Result? Points (Currently on 74)?
?Fulham (A) ? W 0-3 ?77
?Cardiff (H) W 5-0? ?80
?Crystal Palace (A) W ?2-1 ?83
?Tottenham (H) ?W 2-0 ?86
?Manchester United (A) ?D 2-2 ?87
?Burnley (A) W 1-0 ?90
?Leicester (H) W ?3-1 ?93
?Brighton (A) ?W 3-1 ?96


Why Wolves Can Better This Season’s Performance and Break Into the Top Six

With star striker Raul Jimenez reportedly close to making his loan spell from Benfica permanent, manager Nuno Espirito Santo will already be planning on how to improve his impressive Wolves side for the 2019/20 season. 

Having topped the Championship with a group with no shortage of quality – including Ruben Neves, the youngest player ever to captain a Champions League side, when he did so for Porto at just 18 – many predicted that Wolves would manage survive in England’s top division. With a tactically astute manager and investment to complement the talent already in the squad, the expectation for Wolves was a mid-table finish. 


It is fair to say, however, that ?Wolves have surpassed those expectations. Positioned seventh in the league and through to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, only ?Watford could otherwise have a legitimate claim of being ‘the best of the rest’. The Wembley semi-final between the two sides will prove decisive regarding who has had the more successful season. 

Nonetheless, Wolves have caught the eye of the neutral more impressively, helped by the number of upsets they have caused to the ‘top six’ this season – in all competitions, they have beaten ?Chelsea, ?Tottenham, ?Liverpool and ?Manchester United, as well as drawing four times against the elite of the Premier League. Over the season, the Wanderers have proven they can go head to head against anybody and, not just compete, but better their opposition. 

Furthermore, a delve into the underlying statistics suggests Wolves are unlucky not to be higher up the table. Expected goals (xG) – which measures the quality of opportunities created – measures them as the fourth best team in the Premier League this season, based on the xG difference between a team’s attack and defence. Wolves are extremely well organised defensively, working hard to not allow the opponent a clear sight of goal. They soak up pressure before launching lethal counter-attacks. 

Matt Doherty

In theory then, there should be no reason why Wolves cannot compete for a top six position in the 2019/20 season. Of course, the likes of ?Arsenal and Chelsea can improve further with more time spent under their new managers Unai Emery and Maurizio Sarri. In every given season, however, one or two of the bigger sides fall some way below their projections. With more experience in the league, additional investment and – most importantly – no significant player or manager departures, Wolves can surpass expectations once more. 

Europa League football may prove however to be a hindrance, particularly because Wolves have the quality to go far into the competition, but Espirito Santo will surely be backed in the transfer market to ensure his squad is large enough to allow for rotation. 

Ruben Neves

Rui Patricio has endured a difficult first season in English football, but he and John Ruddy should be adequate enough going into the next campaign. Matt Doherty has been one of the best attacking fullbacks in the division, contributing to ten goals in all competitions. Jonny and Ruben Vinagre are also of sufficient quality, while Adama Traore – given his lack of end product – could adapt his talents to the wing-back role, providing depth in that area. 

At centre back, Willy Bolly has been a colossus, while Connor Coady has been widely praised for his distribution – even if shouts for an England call-up do seem quite premature. Ryan Bennett has been played regularly as the third centre-back, and he is someone who could be upgraded upon. Romain Saiss and Leander Dendoncker – who Wolves will be hopeful of signing on a permanent basis – provide cover. 

Conor Coady

In the centre of the park, Neves and Portuguese compatriot Joao Moutinho are certainties to start. While they can be joined by the aforementioned Saiss or Dendoncker – or even promising English youngster Morgan Gibbs-White – Wolves should target an attack minded central midfielder who can provide the forwards with support. Neves and Moutinho like to dictate the play, and would be well complemented by somebody who makes late runs into the box, chipping in with goals and assists.

Up front, Jimenez has been one of the standout centre forwards in the Premier League, while Jota has continued to improve after a struggling start. They form a good relationship, but the likes of Ivan Cavaleiro and Helder Costa are too big of a decline in quality on the bench. Wolves should therefore target at least one if not two attackers – a target man in the mould of Jimenez, and a pacy second striker/winger with proven end product. 

Joao Moutinho

So, while it may seem premature to suggest that Wolves can break into the top six next season, under the current manager they have a track record of not only delivering the requirement, but surpassing all expectations. Having proven they can compete against the big boys, it is the games against teams they are expected to break down that will be the difference.