Koeman spoilt for choice for crucial games

AMSTERDAM • Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman is delighted with the variety of player options available when his side play two Euro 2020 qualifiers in four days in a bid to surge to the top of Group C.

"All of the players have made strong strides and that is most positive," he said on Monday. "The midfield and attack, for example, have many different possibilities. Maybe we are going to make several changes between the two games, but it also depends on the circumstances."

The Dutch, with a game in hand, are on nine points, three off leaders Germany and Northern Ireland.

Two wins, over the Northern Irishmen in Rotterdam today and in Belarus on Sunday, will see them dislodge Germany, who face Estonia, from the top owing to their superior head-to-head record.

One conundrum for Koeman concerns Donny van de Beek. The midfielder missed their last two wins, 4-2 in Germany and 4-0 in Estonia. But he has shone since his return from injury, notably for Ajax in their 3-0 Champions League group win over Valencia last week.

"Donny plays several different roles at his club and he can do the same for us," said Koeman. "There is also a role for Kevin Strootman in midfield, but he has Frenkie de Jong ahead of him in the pecking order, but is still valuable."

The coach has picked seven forwards in his 23-man squad, including Ryan Babel of Galatasaray and Lyon's Memphis Depay.

The Dutch, who failed to qualify for Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup, have had a renaissance under Koeman since he took over early last year. They have won six of 10 competitive matches, while also finishing as runners-up in the inaugural Nations League.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 10, 2019, with the headline 'Koeman spoilt for choice for crucial games'. Print Edition | Subscribe