Ailing Stuttgart turn to Willig

VfB Stuttgart have axed head coach Markus Weinzierl following a 6-0 thrashing by Augsburg which left them still uncertain about their Bundesliga survival.

Weinzierl had taken charge of Die Roten in early October following the sacking of Tayfun Korkut, signing a contract which ran until the summer of 2020.

However, he has been shown the door with Stuttgart currently down in 18th place in the standings, a position which would see them involved in a relegation play-off – while they are also far from certain of avoiding automatic relegation.

Weinzierl has been replaced by Under-19s coach Nico Willig, with head of sport Thomas Hitzlsperger saying that the club hierarchy felt they simply had to make a change.

He told the club's official website: "We stated several times that we wanted to bring the season to a successful conclusion with Markus Weinzierl and his coaching team.

"However, after the extremely disappointing match in Augsburg we chose to review the situation again and decided that a clear break is necessary in order to secure our Bundesliga survival.

"We didn't take this decision lightly, but VfB's success comes first and we have to act accordingly.

"We believe Nico is capable of quickly bringing fresh impetus to the team and helping them avoid relegation."

Next up for Stuttgart is a visit from Borussia Monchengladbach next Saturday, with the last five meetings of these two sides having been won to zero by the home side.

Stuttgart are 8/13 to be relegated, with Nurnberg 1/20 and Schalke 50/1.

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Double injury woe hurts Bayern

Bayern Munich have suffered a double blow as they battle Borussia Dortmund for the Bundesliga title, with both Manuel Neuer and Mats Hummels picking up injuries.

Germany international goalkeeper Neuer suffered a recurrence of an old calf injury during the 4-1 win over Fortuna Dusseldorf on Sunday, with central defender Hummels reporting a thigh problem late on the game.

Neuer is facing around two weeks on the sidelines, with the knock to Hummels rated as a little less serious by the Bayern medical team.

Die Roten are currently one point clear of Dortmund at the top of the table with five games to play, with Bayern having scored 27 goals in their last six league games.

The men from Munich are priced at 2/7 to secure a seventh straight Bundesliga title, with BVB available at 13/5.

Meanwhile, Lille chairman Gerard Lopez believes it is inevitable that Bayern target Nicolas Pepe will leave the Ligue 1 outfit at the end of the season.

The 23-year-old Ivory Coast international forward has scored 18 league goals so far this season and is reported to be on the wanted lists of several top European clubs, with such interest prompting Lopez to admit: "It is certain, he will leave.

"He has moved into a price range that we cannot afford anymore. There is a career choice to make for him, I think he will have the choice (of clubs)."

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Uth adds to Schalke’s woes

Struggling Schalke will be without Mark Uth for the remainder of the season, with the former Hoffenheim striker needing surgery on a thigh injury.

The 27-year-old, who made his Germany debut last October, has scored just four goals so far this season and is not out of action until next season after being injured during the recent 2-0 DFB-Pokal defeat to Werder Bremen.

Uth requires an operation and will be unable to help Die Konigsblauen try and arrest a slump which has seen them suffer eight defeats in nine games in all competitions.

The complete loss of form has seen them drop down to 14th place in the Bundesliga standings, just four points above Stuttgart – who occupy the spot which would see them involved in a relegation play-off.

However, while Uth is now absent, head coach Huub Stevens has confirmed that midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is set to re-join the first-team squad in Gelsenkirchen after being demoted for off-field issues.

Stevens told the club's official website: "Over the last few days, I have discussed Nabil’s behaviour (with the other coaches).

"The feedback was entirely positive, both regarding his performance in training and his conduct with the Under-23s, so we've decided to call him back to the first team."

Schalke are back in action on Friday evening when they visit Nurnberg, who are one but bottom in the Bundesliga, having won just one game since the end of September.

Die Konigsblauen are 5/4 to register a much-needed win, with the draw priced at 11/5, while a 2-2 draw is available at 14/1.

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Gotze: Every game will be crucial

Borussia Dortmund forward Mario Gotze has played down suggestions that Die Klassiker at Bayern Munich on Saturday will be decisive in the Bundesliga title race.

BVB hold a two-point lead going into the game at the Allianz Arena, with Bayern having been held to a 1-1 draw at Freiburg last weekend.

On the same day Dortmund needed two injury-time goals from Paco Alcacer to win 2-0 at home to Wolfsburg and take an advantage into the showdown with the reigning champions of Germany.

However, with another six league games to be played after this weekend, Gotze is wary of thinking that Die Klassiker is a winner-takes-all clash.

He told the official Bundesliga website: "Personally, I do see it as an important game but it won't be a decisive one. There are seven important games to go.

"Saturday's Klassiker will be an important match generally in terms of our confidence and our mental strength and so on.

"The right result can give us a push, but there are seven games left and you really saw how hard it was in the last two games where we got the three points in the last minute.

"We realise Saturday will be important, but the whole remaining period will be decisive. There are a full six weeks where we will have to give 100 per cent in every game."

BVB can be backed at 15/4 to earn a draw at Bayern on Saturday, with a 2-2 final scoreline available at 14/1, while Dortmund are priced at 11/8 to claim the Bundesliga title this season.

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Magennis eyes qualifying charge

Northern Ireland matchwinner Josh Magennis is confident his side can maintain their form and challenge for a top-two finish in European Championship qualifying Group C.

Magennis netted a late clincher as the Irish edged out Belarus 2-1 in Belfast to make it two wins out of two in a group which also includes both Germany and the Netherlands.

Those two major rivals met in Amsterdam on Sunday, with Nico Shulz netting a last-minute winner for the visitors, as the Dutch failed to build on a 4-0 home win over Belarus in their opening qualifier.

And Bolton forward Magennis is relishing the remainder of the qualifying campaign, with Michael O'Neill's men facing trips to both Estonia and Belarus in early June.

He told reporters after his crucial intervention at Windsor Park: "It's a cliche and cheesy, but the main thing was the three points and we want 12 points out of the first four games and then we can head towards September, October and November.

"We have started off well and now we have to look forward to June.

"It is massive and we want to stay there (in the top two) and we truly believe we can do it.

"It's going to be tough and maybe tougher than we expected and maybe we will have to dig deep. I also say 'why not us?'. The boys know each other inside out and we just have to play to the best of our ability."

Northern Ireland are currently priced at 6/1 to finish in the top two in Group C, while they are 1/9 to miss out on a top-two spot.

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Euro 2020: Sweet Revenge for Germany

Netherlands 2-3 Germany

A late goal from Nico Schulz gave Germany a much needed win and a great start to its European Championship qualifiers.

In a game of two halves the Germans went 2-0 up only to be pegged back by the Dutch, before Schulz scored to avenge the Nations League thumping his side had in Holland back in October.

The Euro 2020 tie of the weekend between these two great nations certainly didn’t disappoint. It was a cracker!

Germany coach Joachim Low started with an experimental side and they played without fear, two 23 year olds putting the visitors two up at the break as Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry both scored brilliant goals. But Ronald Koeman’s Oranje roared back in the second half to draw level, and as they sought a winner they were hit by a sucker punch.

The Netherlands vs Germany betting odds had Germany to win at 2.78; great value but it could have gone either way.

Highlights of the game

You have to wonder why Low left Leroy Sane at home during the World Cup and the Manchester City player asked that question again in the 15th minute. Toni Kroos released Nico Schulz down the left wing with a superb ball, and his first time cross was expertly collected by Sane, before he shot across Jasper Cillissen and into the far corner.

The Netherlands fought back immediately and Fulham striker Ryan Babel had two great chances to equalise, but Manuel Neuer made a stunning save to stop the first; and then Babel met a cross from Quincy Promes but fired straight at the Germany keeper.

Germany made Babel pay for his wastefulness in spectacular fashion. Serge Gnabry made the Netherlands’ vaunted centre back, Virgil van Dijk, look pretty ordinary as he skipped inside and unleashed a beautiful shot into the top right corner to make it 0-2.

Euro 2020 highlights: Memphis Depay scoring one and making an assist

Memphis Depay celebrates equaliser with Netherlands

That’s definitely one to watch in the Euro 2020 highlights package.

Sane almost made it three when he ran ahead of Van Dijk, but his low shot heading for the bottom corner was well saved by Cillissen. It’s been a while since the Oranje defence has looked so sluggish and Germany went into the break with a two goal lead.

Keeper Cillissen and centre back Van Dijk are second and third in the UEFA player rankings but they both had a torrid time in the first half.

The Netherlands had a lot to do, but they made a great start to the second half when Memphis Depay whipped in a lovely cross which Matthijs de Ligt glanced into the far corner to halve the deficit. Game on!

The Oranje crowd in the Johann Cruyff Arena came alive, and it wasn’t long before the stadium was bouncing when the home side drew level. As the ball skidded across the Germany box, Depay didn’t have much space but he had enough to fire a low shot into the corner.

There was so much more energy about the Dutch play in the second half and they were in the ascendancy. Neuer came out to smother the ball when Georginio Wijnaldum was through but that was as close as the Netherlands came.

And then, with the clock running down Germany snatched a winner. Marco Reus found Schulz in space and he fired home from 12 yards to snatch the points.

Neither of these teams are the hottest tips to win the tournament when the us Euro 2020 finals come around, but they both showed enough tonight to tempt a few backers.

Euro 2020: Serge Gnabry scored the goal of the game with a beautiful curling effort

Serge Gnabry scored against Netherlands and put Germany 2-0 up

Key statistics

In the last ten matches between these two big guns honours are now even with three wins each and four draws.

Germany’s win was the first in six competitive matches and their first win against the Dutch in four attempts. It ended a sequence of four home wins for the hosts.

Serge Gnabry’s stunning goal was his fifth in six international appearances.

What’s next?

The Netherlands have another huge game on the way in June when they play England in the UEFA Nations League semi-final. Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions are continuing their great run having hammered the Czech Republic 5-0 in their European Championships opener. That game will be well worth catching as two teams very much on the up will put on an entertaining show.

Germany’s next match is a Euro qualifier away to Belarus, who were beaten by the Netherlands 4-0 in their opening fixture and 2-1 by Northern Ireland tonight.

 

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Euro 2020: Next Big Step for the Netherlands

Netherlands vs Germany

Two of Europe’s football aristocracy are set to meet in a mouth watering Euro 2020 clash at the Johann Cruyff Arena on Sunday.

There’s little argument that Netherlands versus Germany, in a Group C opener, is the tie of the weekend. And both teams have plenty to prove. The latest Euro 2020 betting odds have neither of these teams at the top of the list, with France, Belgium, Spain and England all ahead; because both teams have been in some turmoil in recent times but the Oranje, in particular is in a period of resurgence and they will be determined to take another big step against their old rivals.

Ronald Koeman has been steadily rebuilding the confidence of a team with no little quality, while Joachin Low’s aim is to lift his own team back to the heights it has enjoyed as recently as 2014 when it lifted the World Cup is spectacular style.

Talking Points

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The Oranje’s Nations League success

After a period in the doldrums it’s starting to look like the good times are returning to the Netherlands. They were the big absentees in both Euro 2016 and, along with Italy, at Russia 2018. But former playing legend Koeman is moulding the team in his own image. At the back Virgil Van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt have formed a formidable defensive partnership; Liverpool’s Van Dijk often touted as the best centre back in the world.

He’s a threat up front too, scoring a late goal, as did Quincy Promes, to give the Oranje a 2-2 draw with Germany to seal a place in the Nations League semi-final, after Timo Werner and Leroy Sane had put the Germans in charge.

De Ligt’s Ajax team-mate Frenkie De Jong has had a superb season which has earned him a contact at Barcelona, and the midfield star can be a good source of ammunition for former Manchester United wide man Memphis Depay, who has discovered a new lease of life at Lyon.

Beating France in the Nations League was no mean feat either, the World Champions were humbled by a 2-0 score line when they took on Koeman’s team, which is fast becoming one to watch on the world stage.

Germany in transition too

Having dominated European football for some time, Germany was humbled at the World Cup in Russia, failing to get out of the group stage, and Low has taken a good look at his squad, leaving out veterans Thomas Muller and Mats Hummels. But he still has bags of talent at his disposal. The return of Leroy Sane, after he was left out of the World Cup squad, has added pace and goals; while Borussia Dortmund’s influential forward Marco Reus has recently returned from injury and is a key man for both club and country.

Sane’s Manchester City club mate Ilkay Gundogan could feature, and alongside Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos would be part of a top quality midfield.

Germany still has plenty in its locker and will be out to take back the bragging rights from their hosts.

Germany out to prove Euro 2020 fans that they are the best team in the tournament

Germany’s Thomas Muller, Joshua Kimmich & Mats Hummels disappointed after the Nations League match vs The Netherlands

History

This is a game that’s bound to hit the Euro 2020 news headlines whatever the result, as both teams are desperate to gather momentum with a win.

Germany has won the European Championship three times, the joint highest along with Spain, while the Netherlands have a solitary win, when the tournament was held in Germany back in 1988.

In the nine matches between these two big guns, since 1992, the Netherlands have the edge, winning three to Germany’s two and there have been four draws. The biggest psychological advantage is with the hosts as they recently hammered Germany 3-0 in their home Nations Leagues tie, before qualifying with that draw at the Veltins Arena.

But the rivalry goes much further back; the most famous clash in the 1974 World Cup Final when Germany overcame Holland’s total football, Johann Cruyff and all, to lift the trophy.

The Netherlands have won their last four home games, are unbeaten in five and haven’t lost to Germany in the last three meetings, so I’d say that gives the hosts the edge.

Betting Tip

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Netherlands vs Germany Netherlands, Draw no Bet @ 1.83
March 25, 03:45(GMT+8)

At odds of 2.44 to win with us the Netherlands are marginal favourites, with Germany at 2.78 and the draw at 3.20.

I can make a case for both sides; each has world class players and a head coach who knows his way around the top echelons of European football. But there seems to be more optimism around the Netherlands at the moment, and with a passionate Oranje crowd behind them I can’t see the hosts losing this one.

A SHORT EXPLANATION ON HOW OUR (??) BETS ARE WORTH:
?? = €20 (Highly confident) ?? = €10 (CONFIDENT) ?? = €5 (SOMEWHAT CONFIDENT)

Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

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Depay to keep his place

Netherlands coach Ronald Koeman has made it clear that Memphis Depay will be in his starting line-up for Sunday's Euro 2020 qualifier against Germany.

The Lyon striker, who endured a difficult spell with Manchester United earlier in his career, scored twice on Thursday and produced a scintillating individual display as the Dutch eased to a 4-0 win against Belarus.

Depay has struggled to hold down a regular place in the Lyon team this season but has been hailed by former Everton boss Koeman.

He said of 25-year-old Depay: "A wonderful player. You saw what he is capable of, even if he is playing less at his club.

"Memphis is a very important pillar for us and he showed that. The ideal is to have a settled starting line-up to be able to work with. You see that with France, how infrequently they change their team."

Depay, who scored in the first minute against Belarus for a Netherlands side that have enjoyed a recent upturn in form after missing out on Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018, said: "It was a great start and, if you begin like that, it makes the rest of the evening easier.

"We said that to each other before we went out that we wanted to push hard for a goal in the opening 10 minutes. But you've also got to have a little luck.

"We have a good squad and a good coaching staff. We've got to ensure we stick together as a team and that everyone buys into our ambitions."

Netherlands, 3/1 to win this summer's Nations League, can be backed at 7/5 to beat Germany on Sunday.

Zorc expects Reus to stay put

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc expects Marco Reus to see out the remainder of his career with his hometown club.

Having started out as a youngster with BVB, the 29-year-old Germany international forward headed off for spells with Rot Weiss Ahlen and Borussia Monchengladbach, before returning home just under seven years ago.

Since then, despite a number of serious injury problems, Reus has scored 115 goals in 235 appearances in all competitions, helping Dortmund win the DFB-Pokal in 2017 and remain in place as the main rival to Bayern Munich in the domestic game.

And Zorc sees no reason why Reus would opt to move on, telling Sport Bild: "Marco is someone who identifies with the club and has strong roots in Dortmund. I can't imagine that he will ever play for another club.

"Marco has matured as a person and he is taking on more responsibility than before, both on and off the pitch. He has a natural authority and he is becoming ever more important for us."

Reus has scored 15 goals in 22 Bundesliga outings so far this season, with BVB currently behind table-topping Bayern on goal difference only.

Dortmund can be backed at 2/1 to claim the Bundesliga title this season, with Bayern available at 4/11.

Die Schwarzgelben were last crowned champions of Germany in 2012, just before the return of Reus to the club.

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Low impressed by Sane form

Germany head coach Joachim Low is pleased to see the improvements Leroy Sane has made and has backed the forward to be a major player for his country in the future.

The richly-talented 23-year-old Manchester City ace was a surprise omission from the Germany squad for the World Cup finals last summer, having been a key figure in the success of the Citizens last season.

However, Sane was back in favour for the Nations League programme, while he has scored in each of his last two international appearances – against Russia and the Netherlands.

And Low, who is busy rebuilding his squad after a disastrous showing at the World Cup, is happy to see Sane having taken on board criticism which had come his way.

He told the official DFB website: "His development has been good in both the national team and (for) Manchester City.

"He has put in some great performances, but what is more important to me is that he has taken a big step forward. He has really mastered his jobs on the pitch.

"He has incredible skills and has brought them to the pitch in the last six months. Leroy still has huge potential and can become an extremely important player for the Germany national team."

Germany can now be backed at 8/1 to win the 2020 European Championships, with the Dutch 12/1 and World Cup winners France 4/1.

Die Mannschaft and the Netherlands have been drawn in the same qualifying group and face each other in Amsterdam on Sunday.

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