Virgil van Dijk, Netherlands Beat Germany 3-0 in UEFA Nations League

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistOctober 13, 2018

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13: Virgil van Dijk of Holland celebrates 1-0  during the  UEFA Nations league match between Holland  v Germany  at the Johan Cruijff Arena on October 13, 2018 in amsterdam Netherlands (Photo by Laurens Lindhout/Soccrates /Getty Images)
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

The Netherlands claimed a vital first win in the UEFA Nations League on Saturday, beating Germany 3-0 at the Johan Cruyff Arena in Amsterdam.

Virgil van Dijk headed home from close range on the half-hour mark before the superb Memphis Depay secured the points late on after Germany had dominated the second half.

Georginio Wijnaldum then put the icing on the cake with a fine individual goal in stoppage time.

Die Mannschaft were a long way from their best once again and have now won just three times in their last 12 matches. They have now also lost five matches in 2018, the joint-highest number of defeats for a Germany team in a calendar year.

The convincing victory sees the Dutch leapfrog Joachim Low's side in Group A1. They are now just a point behind leaders France, with Germany on one point after two matches.

          

Manuel Neuer No Longer Deserves No. 1 Spot

Germay goalkeeper Manuel Neuer during the UEFA Nations League A group 1 qualifying match between The Netherlands and Germany at the Johan Cruijff Arena on October 13, 2018 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

Neuer did not used to make mistakes. When Germany were winning the 2014 FIFA World Cup and overcoming all before them, he was a rock at the back, and his reputation as the world's best goalkeeper was largely undisputed.

However, he missed much of last season for Bayern Munich because of injury, was arguably rushed back too quickly for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and was far from his best in Russia.

On Saturday, he was at fault for the hosts' opening goal, from which Germany were unable to recover.

Neuer advanced into no-man's land while trying to deal with Depay's corner before Ryan Babel crashed a header against the bar, allowing Van Dijk to slot the ball home into an empty net:

Marc-Andre ter Stegen has been superb for Barcelona for some time now and deserves the chance to claim the No. 1 spot for Germany.

                    

Germany Have Lost Their Attacking Edge

On the basis of Saturday's performance from Low's side, Neuer isn't their only problem.

Where Germany used to be ruthless in front of goal and punish any mistakes by opposition teams, they were wasteful in Amsterdam.

The formerly unerring Thomas Muller missed numerous golden chances, most notably when he was put in behind a sleeping Dutch defence but failed to hit the target in the 38th minute.

Timo Werner also underwhelmed, failing to trouble Jasper Cillessen despite some fine opportunities.

And Schalke's Mark Uth, a surprise debutant in the No. 9 role, was largely anonymous and failed to prove Low correct in his selection.

Manchester City's Leroy Sane had been picked out as a potential solution to Germany's attacking woes, but he was equally culpable after replacing Muller in the 57th minute, blazing wide a glorious opportunity 25 minutes from time:

Germany have a serious problem in attack that needs to be solved if they are to return to their former glories.

                      

Netherlands Will Challenge France for Top Spot in Group A1

The Netherlands benefitted from Germany's wastefulness, but they also showed immense resolve when under the cosh for much of the second half.

They proved that they will be able to challenge world champions France for superiority in Group A1. Some of their attacking play was inspired, and never more so than when Depay was on the ball.

He set up the first goal and never stopped running when feeding off scraps in the second half.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 13: Memphis Depay of Holland celebrates 2-0 during the  UEFA Nations league match between Holland  v Germany  at the Johan Cruijff Arena on October 13, 2018 in amsterdam Netherlands (Photo by Cees van Hoogdalem/Soccrates /
Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Before getting his goal, he did everything possible to set up Wijnaldum to put the game to bed late on, but the Liverpool man blazed his shot over the bar.

When Depay got his chance after Germany lost the ball in the middle of the park, he made no mistake to slot home at the far post from Quincy Promes' fine delivery.

It was no more than he deserved, and it secured the win for the Dutch with four minutes to go.

Wijnaldum then punished more German sloppiness in the midfield when he lashed home with almost the last kick of the game, and the Dutch will take huge confidence from such a convincing win.

                  

What's Next?

Germany meet France in Paris on Tuesday in a clash between the last two FIFA World Cup winners.

Meanwhile, Ronald Koeman's Dutch side have a friendly against Belgium on the same day in Brussels.

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