The Oranje defeated Die Mannschaft in their own backyard after a dominant display.

Germany hosted the Netherlands in a highly anticipated European qualifier clash and the tie lived up to the hype with a total of six goals being scored on the night. Ronald Koeman’s men ran away with all three points in a 2-4 victory, despite going into the second half with one goal down.

The tactical masterclass from the Dutch manager helped his team dominate the proceedings and had no reply from the opposition manager, Joachim Low.

The German tactician summed up his team’s performance perfectly in the post match press interaction by saying that, “Holland was the better team for over 90 minutes, we deserved to lose. Despite the lead, we never had the game under control.”

So where did the Netherlands outclass the Germans tactically and what changed from the first half to the second that turned the complexion of the game? Here’s the tactical analysis of the game.


Germany employed a 3-4-2-1 formation with Serge Gnabry leading the line supported by Timo Werner and Marco Reus. The team was clearly set up to sit back and hit the opposition on the counter by utilising the pace of the front three options.

However, Gnabry was ineffective as the sole striker upfront and should have been interchanged with Werner, who is more of a recognised #9. The front three had no chemistry, failed to link up with each other which made it very easy for the Netherlands defenders to isolate them.

The condition of the pitch was strangely quite poor, as the ball kept bouncing on the floor making it extremely problematic to control and maintain a passing rhythm. The centre-backs played extremely wide when in possession of the ball and shifted to a much narrow shape while defending.

Germany vs Netherlands lineups and player ratings.

The Netherlands played to their strengths, employing a 3-1-4-2 formation which transitioned into 3-4-3 several times going forward as Quincy Promes drifted down the left-wing, Ryan Babel playing as the target man and Frenkie De Jong making late runs into the box, a tactic which earned him a goal as well. 

Ronald Koeman’s men found it tough to break down the German defences in the first half due to a lack of chemistry between the attackers. Both sides were struggling to string passes together due to the terrible condition of the pitch and lacked any attacking flow. The second half substitution of Donyel Malen changed the shape of the team for the better.

As it is visible, both the teams were inclined to their respective left-wing

Intelligent substitutions from the Dutch changed the game


First half was a struggle for both teams as they failed to find any attacking rhythm. Germany rocketed into an early lead thanks to Serge Gnabry who pounced on a rebound from Kolstermann’s shot off Jasper Cillessen after a quick counter attack in the 9th minute.

The rest of the first half did not have many highlights apart from a scuffle between the players around the 30th-minute mark after Joshua Kimmich seemed to have crashed into Matthijs De Ligt out of frustration from an earlier altercation with Memphis Depay.

The second half saw the Netherlands play much better free-flowing football and the double substitution by Ronald Koeman introducing Davy Propper and debutant Donyell Marlen in place of Denzel Dumfries and Marten De Roon changed the tide of the game in favour of the Oranje.

Ryan Babel shifted to the left flank, making way for Marlen in the centre while Promes shifted to the right-wing and Propper took his place. 

Ryan Babel delivered a good ball into the box from his new role which was not dealt with Jonathan Tah and De Jong pounced on the mistake by cleverly slotting the ball in the left corner for the equaliser. The floodgates had opened with Joachim Low’s men struggling to find any rhythm of their own. 

The German tactician’s double substitution ended up being counterproductive when he brought on Kai Havertz and Ilkay Gundogan in place of Timo Werner and Marco Reus – two midfielders in place of attackers seemed like a negative move which further diminished their attacking prowess.

They had more of the ball, but looked short on ideas to break through the solid defensive unit from the opposition. They came close twice but could not find the final touch to guide the crosses into the net from Gnabry and Schulz.

Watch: Germany vs Netherlands goals & highlights

Things went from bad to worse for the home team when they failed to clear a corner and Depay’s returning ball nicked off Tah who scored an own goal in the 66th minute. Germans did get a lucky break after being awarded a harsh penalty following a peculiar case of a handball from De Ligt inside his own box which was calmly converted by Toni Kroos to level the proceedings yet again in the 73rd minute.

However, it was the turn of the debutant Marlen to shine when he latched on to a dinked ball from Giorginio Wijnaldum after the German defence went to sleep and scored his team into the lead again in the 79th minute.

Koeman brought on Nathan Ake to close the gates on the hosts and as a reaction, the Germans threw caution to the wind and committed men forward in order to find an equaliser. Although, another unforced error by Low’s men allowed Depay to put in a belter of a cross for Giorginio Wijnaldum who secured the result for the visitors by scoring the fourth goal in the injury time which deflated any hopes of a comeback.


This German team looks like a shadow of a team from a few years ago and desperately lacked leadership at the back of someone like Mats Hummels. Joachim Low would be worried about the loose passes and carelessness while in possession of the ball and must also do something to help Timo Werner emulate his club form at the international stage as well. Testing times for the gaffer up ahead.

The Netherlands squad is full of talented young players who are helping their country’s resurgence to the top of European football. However, they are still in need of a lot of improvement, mainly in the attacking front where they failed to find fluency and rhythm, looking bereft of ideas in the first half. They are a long way from being touted as favourites to clinch the crown at the 2020 UEFA Euro