?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.
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.
Netherlands v Germany was absolutely brilliant from start to finish. Shame the big boys don’t play each other more. UEFA should come up with a tournament that makes that happen etc etc
— Michael Cox (@Zonal_Marking) March 24, 2019
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.
Only three teams have beaten the Netherlands since Ronald Koeman was appointed last February:
The 2014 and 2018 world champions… 2022 on its way home? pic.twitter.com/cpxoJQPJad
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) March 24, 2019
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.
The two sides will now break for nearly three months. The Netherlands will travel to
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.