With 12 points, Ronald Koeman’s team is in second place in the sector, while the Boys in Green are still hoping to make the playoffs despite having already lost out of the top two.
With two games remaining, the Oranje’s fate is fully in their own hands as France sails off into the German sunset, having already secured a seat at Euro 2024 as group champions.
The Netherlands and Greece will square off for the final qualification position.
Although Koeman’s team was unable to compete against France in their doubleheader matchup with Les Bleus, the Netherlands has won four of their previous five Group B matches.
However, some of them may have missed the last-minute matchup with Greece last month.
In Athens, the Netherlands was once again denied from the spot by Odysseas Vlachodimos of Nottingham Forest, but three minutes into injury time in the second half, captain and unlikely 12-yard source Virgil van Dijk made no mistake with his last-gasp penalty to send his country above Greece and into second place.
With a game in hand and a better head-to-head record against Greece, Koeman’s team can guarantee a top-two finish if they defeat the Irish.
Should anything unexpected happen on Saturday, though, they have a match against bottom-of-the-table Gibraltar to look forward to.
Even in the most unlikely scenario, which would need the Netherlands to lose two games and Greece to defeat France by at least one point the following week, Koeman’s team still has the safety net of a playoff spot, which may or may not materialize for their upcoming visitors.
The Republic of Ireland might still qualify for a third Euros since 2012. This is even though Stephen Kenny’s team has only managed to pick up six of the 21 points available in Group B, which is not surprising given their inability to upset the French and Dutch.
Unsurprisingly, both of those wins came against whipping boys Gibraltar, who they thrashed 4-0 in their most recent match to avenge their previous Dublin loss to Greece by goals from Evan Ferguson, Mikey Johnston, Matt Doherty, and Callum Robinson.
The Boys in Green’s Nations League ranking is higher than Greece’s and lower than the Netherlands’, who must finish above the Pirate Ship in Group B to keep Ireland in the running for a postseason berth. Despite this, Kenny’s team remarkably needs to lose to the Dutch to improve their chances of making it to the playoffs.
The Irish will not, however, participate in tanking, and a loss elsewhere would also dash their meager prospects of qualifying for the postseason before news of Kenny’s future takes center stage once more.
Adam Idah’s penalty in Ireland’s September match against the Netherlands broke the scoreless draw in just four minutes.
However, the Dutch, who have not lost to the Boys in Green since Robbie Keane’s goal in a 2004 friendly, rallied for a 2-1 victory through Cody Gakpo and Weghorst.
Netherlands Euro Champ Qualifying form:
L W W W L W
Netherlands form (all competitions):
L L W W L W
Republic of Ireland Euro Champ Qualifying form:
L W L L L W
The Netherlands, like many of their European competitors, have had to make a few changes in response to the November injury wave. Nathan Ake of Manchester City and Brian Brobbey and Steven Bergwijn of Ajax have both withdrawn from the team.
Nozzled Thijs Dallinga, a striker for Toulouse, has been called up for the first time, replacing the other two. He is one of two players in the ranks vying for a senior Dutch debut, the other being 17-year-old Jorrel Hato, an Ajax defender, who said he was “completely surprised” to be chosen.
Bart Verbruggen has been confirmed as Koeman’s first choice goalkeeper for the national team, despite sharing the gloves with Jason Steele at Brighton & Hove Albion.
Daley Blind might earn his 104th cap to tie Dirk Kuyt for sixth place in the all-time Oranje rankings.
Meanwhile, Ireland have not had any players depart the camp through injury as yet, but Kenny has revealed that all of Ferguson, Will Smallbone, Chiedozie Ogbene and Jamie McGrath are uncertain for their final group encounter.
Due to a back problem, Ferguson was unable to play in Brighton’s most recent tie with Sheffield United.
However, Kenny has said that the young striker is trying to be ready for Saturday’s match, where he will try to score past Seagulls teammate Verbruggen rather than shielding him.
The lone uncapped player in the visiting team’s lineup is Andrew Moran, a twenty-year-old midfielder for Blackburn Rovers, however Jayson Molumby is a more likely option to start in midfield if McGrath and Smallbone are not cleared to play.
Netherlands possible starting lineup:
Verbruggen; Geertruida, Van Dijk, Blind; Dumfries, Reijnders, Wieffer, Hartman; Simons, Weghorst, Gakpo
Republic of Ireland possible starting lineup:
Kelleher; Doherty, Duffy, Scales, Manning; Knight, Cullen, Molumby; Sykes, Ferguson, Johnston
Our Prediction 3-0 win by Netherlands