Netherlands vs Northern Ireland
Who? Netherlands vs Northern Ireland in European Championship Qualifying (Live on Sky Sports Main Event)
Where? Stadium Feijenoord, Rotterdam
When? 19:45 GMT, Thursday 10th October 2019
International football is back after a month of domestic fixtures. One of the biggest games on Thursday is the visit of second place Northern Ireland to third place Netherlands in Group C of the Euro 2020 qualifiers.
The hosts are very much back on top in the international scene having hugely dipped during the last few years in a transition period. Winners of the inaugural Nations League competition, along with an impressive 4-2 away win in Germany, means the Dutch could be a favourite for the Euro 2020 tournament. However, they need to show their quality over a resilient Northern Ireland side to draw level on points with a game in advance.
It’s easily one of the biggest games in recent history for Northern Ireland. With the home visit of the Netherlands and an away visit to Germany following this game, anything but a loss would still keep their hopes alive. Another issue heading into the final game of the group could be goal difference for Michael O’Neill’s side with the hosts already six goals ahead and with minnows Estonia still to play. The country will look to maintain optimism heading into that crucial game at Windsor Park in November 16th.
Netherlands: Ronald Koeman does not have any injury setbacks to manage. The front line will probably remain similar as Ryan Babel and Memphis Depay will play up front with the young star Donyell Malen.
Northern Ireland: Michael O’Neill suffered a blow to his full back strength as Jamal Lewis is out with injury. Going forward, Conor Washington is out and the front line may contain Kyle Lafferty or Josh Magennis.
Netherlands: Donyell Malen
The PSV Eindhoven striker is only 20 years old but is looking to become the next main striker in the Dutch side for years to come. He has received two caps at senior level under Koeman and has already got his first goal for his country. Regarding his league form, the former Arsenal youngster has netted 10 goals in nine games so far in the Eredivisie. This ventilating form means we expect him to find the net in this fixture.
Northern Ireland: Jonny Evans
The experienced centre back, enjoying a strong campaign with Leicester City under Northern Irishman Brendan Rodgers, will be a key member for his country. He will need to command the defence and try to hold out the attacking quality which the Netherlands possess for 90 minutes. He also could be an important player during set pieces for the visitors, as he has already scored in this qualifying campaign against Belarus.
The last time these sides met was in a friendly in 2012, which the Netherlands smashed Northern Ireland 6-0. In the four meetings in the FIFA World Cup qualifiers, both sides have won one and drawn twice, with the only victory for Northern Ireland over Netherlands coming in 1965 winning 2-1.
*odds as of October 9th at 14:52 GMT and subject to change