Netherlands are aiming to go top of their Euro 2020 qualifying group when they host Northern Ireland on Thursday. Kick-off in De Kuip is at 7.45pm.

In September, Netherlands took a big step to reaching the Euros next summer after an excellent 4-2 win in Germany before easing past Estonia 4-0.

The victories mean Netherlands can now top the group on Thursday with a victory over Northern Ireland, who currently sit second.

Speaking at his press conference on Wednesday, Ronald Koeman admitted he sees his side as big favourites for the game, but he is not underestimating Northern Ireland, “We are better than the opponent of tomorrow: in terms of football and qualitatively. That does not mean that it will be an easy game. We have seen struggle and aggressiveness in Northern Ireland.”

Koeman expects his players to be at 100%, “As a player, you have to get the motivation from yourself in particular. You have to want to play a European Championship and see that you are not 100 percent, you are not playing the football you want and you are giving away spaces. We have given the players as much information as possible about the expected match. But they must be awake. ”

Northern Ireland made an excellent start to the qualifying campaign with four wins in a row but that was against Estonia and Belarus. When they faced Germany in September, Northern Ireland went down 2-0.

Team News

There were no surprises named in the Netherlands squad meaning Koeman is likely to stick with his preferred line-up.

There are only question marks over a few positions. At right-back, Koeman could choose Denzel Dumfries or Joel Veltman, and in midfield he must decide between Donny van de Beek and Marten de Roon. Up front, Memphis and Ryan Babel are expected to start but the right wing slot is up for grabs with Donyell Malen, Steven Bergwijn, Steven Berghuis and Quincy Promes all options.

Possible Netherlands line-up: Cillessen, Dumfries, Blind, Van Dijk, De Ligt, De Jong, van de Beek, Wijnaldum, Babel, Bergwijn, Memphis

Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill is without injured striker Conor Washington and left-back Jamal Lewis.

O’Neill must now decide between Josh Magennis or Kyle Lafferty to begin up front, while Stuart Dallas could take the left-back slot. Rangers veteran Steven Davis is a key player in midfield.

Possible Northern Ireland line-up: Peacock-Farrell, McLaughlin, Cathcart, J.Evans, Dallas, McNair, Davis, Saville, C.Evans, McGinn, Lafferty


Netherlands 2/11 Draw 7/1 Northern Ireland 18/1

Previous Meetings

Netherlands have met Northern Ireland on six previous occasions since 1962 with Oranje winning three times and losing only once.

The last meeting came in a friendly back in 2012 with Netherlands running out 6-0 victors.

What to expect from Thursday’s tie

Netherlands are a team full of confidence at the moment and they are understandably big favourites against Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Koeman’s side should go on the attack from the start and will be hoping to find a way through an organised Northern Ireland side early to ease any pressure.

Michael O’Neill’s side cannot be underestimated but it will be a massive shock if Netherlands don’t win this game and take a big step towards Euro 2020 qualification.

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