AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman said he was delighted with the variety of options available when his side play two Euro 2020 qualifiers over the next week in a bid to take over at the top of Group C.
The Dutch can usurp Northern Ireland from second spot if they beat them in Rotterdam on Thursday and then dislodge Germany from top place with victory over Belarus in Minsk on Sunday.
“As a coach it’s important to think hard about the national team and the difficult choices you have to make. All of the players have made strong strides and that is most positive,” Koeman told a news conference on Monday.
“The midfield and attack, for example, has many different possibilities. Maybe we are going to make several changes between the two games, but it also depends on the circumstances.”
One immediate conundrum is what to do about the return of Donny van de Beek.
He was injured last month when the Dutch won away in Germany and Estonia but has been in sparkling form since returning, notably starring for Ajax Amsterdam as they beat Valencia 3-0 in the Champions League last week.
“Donny plays several different roles at his club and he can do the same for us,” added 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 for the squad.”
The Dutch are three points behind Germany and Northern Ireland but have played one game less.
If they beat Northern Ireland, they will also have 12 points and can then go top if they win in Belarus, irrespective of what Germany do against Estonia, because of a superior head-to-head record against the Germans, who they beat 4-2 away last month.
The Netherlands, who missed out on qualification for both the last European Championship in France in 2016 and World Cup in Russia last year, have had a renaissance under Koeman since he took over in early 2018.
(Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)