Netherlands carry 'burden' of expectation, says Northern Ireland manager Michael O'Neill

08/10/19 10:14pm

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Northern Ireland manager Michael O`Neill says Netherlands carry a `burden` expectation to break their cycle of failing to qualify for a major international competition since 2014.
Northern Ireland manager Michael O`Neill says Netherlands carry a `burden` expectation to break their cycle of failing to qualify for a major international competition since 2014.

Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill believes his side can capitalise on Netherlands` weight of expectation to qualify for their first major international competition since 2014.

The two nations meet in a crucial European Qualifier on Thursday, live on Sky Sports, with Northern Ireland three points ahead in Group C having played one game more.

Netherlands reached the Nations League final under boss Ronald Koeman in the summer, but are under pressure to quality for Euro 2020 after missing out on Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup.

We know their strengths and weaknesses very well, O`Neill told Sky Sports News.

It is a team that is on the rise but it is a team with a certain level of expectation because Netherlands have not qualified for the last two tournaments.

Netherlands vs N Ireland

October 10, 2019, 7:00pm

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This is a team that has the burden of trying to break that cycle. Equally it is probably not the most experienced international team.

Virgil van Dijk is arguably the best centre back in the world but he has 30 caps, so they maybe don`t yet have that level of experience of previous Dutch sides.

They are an excellent team and I definitely think they are going to grow.Northern Ireland, who qualified for their first major tournament in 30 years at Euro 2016, face Netherlands in a double header over the next two international breaks before they visit Group C leaders Germany in the final match on November 19.

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Michael O’Neill says Memphis Depay is one of a number of attacking threats to Northern Ireland when they face Netherlands in a European Qualifer.
Michael O’Neill says Memphis Depay is one of a number of attacking threats to Northern Ireland when they face Netherlands in a European Qualifer.

O`Neill says Memphis Depay, who marked his 50th cap with a goal against Estonia last month, is just one of a number of attacking threats to his side.

You have to point out the individuals within the team and he has been a fantastic player, said O`Neill, who went to watch Ajax and PSV Eindhoven at the weekend.

He has certainly been revitalised since he went to Lyon. Any player who plays regularly at both club and international level starts to grow and develop.

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Memphis Depay is one of a host of Netherlands players playing in the Champions League

He plays as the front striker whereas we saw him a lot at Manchester United having to play wide where it didn`t possibly suit him as well. He looks to be relishing his role.

Ryan Babel is a good example of a player who plays better for his national team possibly than he has done at some of the clubs he has been at.

We know of the goal threats from midfield; [Donny] Van de Beek and [Gini] Wijnaldium both carry a threat and equally from set pieces Matthijs de Ligt and Virgil van Dijk are huge threats.

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O`Neill says it is a big blow to be without Norwich left-back Jamal Lewis for their two upcoming matches, which also includes a friendly against Czech Republic on Monday.

The 21-year-old withdrew from the squad on Monday after a picking up a knee injury against Aston Villa on Sunday, which needs a small procedure.

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source : skysports.com












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