We're not favourites against Germany: Van Dijk

Virgil van Dijk (in front, warming up for the Belarus match on Thursday) says that while the Netherlands played well in beating Belarus 4-0, they can be a lot better against Germany today.
Virgil van Dijk (in front, warming up for the Belarus match on Thursday) says that while the Netherlands played well in beating Belarus 4-0, they can be a lot better against Germany today.PHOTO: REUTERS

AMSTERDAM • The Netherlands will not be lulled into a false sense of security when they face a struggling, new-look Germany in their Euro 2020 qualifier in Amsterdam today, Virgil van Dijk has said.

The Dutch beat the Germans 3-0 at home last October and came from behind with two late goals to force a 2-2 draw away in Gelsenkirchen one month later to win a place in June's Nations League Finals.

Germany, meanwhile, were relegated from the top division of that competition.

The contrast in form continued when the Netherlands beat Belarus 4-0 in Rotterdam on Thursday in their opening Group C qualifier, a day after Germany proved unconvincing in a 1-1 draw at home to Serbia in a warm-up international friendly.

"It does look like the Germans are still in a building phase but don't forget that the Dutch side is also going through the same process," defender van Dijk said on the eve of the game at the Amsterdam Arena.

"The Germans still have fantastic players, even if they might be talking over there (in Germany) about a crisis. We also had a spell like that, where things did not go for us," added the 27-year-old, referring to his team's failure to reach the 2016 European Championship in France and last year's World Cup in Russia.

"That was not a good phase. But we must worry about ourselves and not Germany.

"I don't think we are favourites."

The Dutch are, however, in confident mood after Thursday's win.

"At times we played really good football but it can, and it must be, a lot better on Sunday," said van Dijk.

By dumping three World Cup winners in Mats Hummels, Jerome Boateng and Thomas Muller, Germany coach Joachim Low is following the process undertaken by the Netherlands since their third-place finish at the World Cup in 2014.

The Dutch failed to reach the subsequent two major tournaments, so a number of new names are now in Ronald Koeman's squad.

Low is trying something similar with the likes of Bayer Leverkusen's Kai Havertz, 19 and Paris Saint-Germain's Thilo Kehrer, 22.

But the draw with Serbia shows they are still a work in progress with the passing and missed chances remaining a problem.

"The Dutch are obviously in better form," said Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan.

REUTERS, DPA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on March 24, 2019, with the headline 'We're not favourites against Germany: Van Dijk'. Print Edition | Subscribe