Kai Havertz and Gian-Luca Waldschmidt among fresh faces to watch out as Germany host Netherlands

Sooraj Kamath - Writer 18:28 06/09/2019
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The international break brings with it some intriguing fixtures and we have a tasty tie on Friday in the 2020 Euro qualifiers as Germany host Netherlands in a Group C clash.

Given the former’s 100 per cent record in three games so far and the latter’s sharp rise to excellence as seen in the UEFA Nations League, it would be hard to pick a winner.

Instead, we look at three new faces with less than five caps for their country who will be keen to make an impact.

Kai Havertz (Germany) – Midfielder

KaiHavertzLeverkusen (1)

It’s surprising that Havertz has just three caps and a total of just over 100 minutes for Germany when they were running out of quality options. Despite being just 20, the midfielder has displayed immense talent at Bayer Leverkusen and now has a chance to replicate it for the national team.

The former Germany U-19 captain was called up to the senior squad last year when he became the first player born in 1999 to represent the nation. Although he made the bench in the reverse fixture of this qualifier tie, Havertz played no part in Germany’s 3-2 win over the Netherlands.

But now, he is likely to be handed a bigger role by Joachim Low as he builds the squad for the Euros next year. The 20-year-old will have to compete with other talented players around his age group and some experienced senior players but is likely to gain minutes as an impact-substitute at the very least.

The midfielder’s major strengths include dribbling, a good sense of positioning and decision-making. Havertz will be the face of Germany’s midfield in the next decade and will look to get into serious business against the Netherlands on Friday.

Justin Kluivert (Netherlands) – Winger

Kluivert

An injury to Steven Bergwijn handed young Justin Kluivert an opportunity to test himself with the senior team. The 20-year-old has two caps, but no starts with the Oranje after his senior debut in March last year.

The son of former footballer Patrick Kluivert, Justin played a crucial role in Netherlands’ U-17 Euros campaign in 2016, leading them to a semi-final finish.

Kluivert made his maiden senior appearance as a substitute in Netherlands’ 3-0 win over European champions Portugal in a friendly, replacing Memphis Depay for the final 12 minutes.

The left-winger likes to take defenders on, cut in and shoot. He is a player a defender would not want to face on a one-on-one situation with acres of space to exploit. His pace and skill with the ball at his feet resemble the movements of his idol Cristiano Ronaldo.

The Roma forward could get a few minutes off the bench and he will look to make the most of it.

Gian-Luca Waldschmidt (Germany) – Forward

Freiburg forward Gian-Luca Waldschmidt earned his first German senior team call-up for the upcoming qualifiers. Low will hope that the 23-year-old solves his team’s complications in front of goal and he has very good reason to believe so.

Waldschmidt has represented Germany at several youth levels – U-16, U-17, U-18, U-19 and most recently U-21. He finished top-scorer of the 2019 U-21 Euros, scoring seven goals in just five games.

Often compared to Lukas Podolski, the youngster possesses a lethal left foot. He can carry the ball into the attacking third and can also pick a pass from the no10 position.

Germany’s attack was woeful in the 2018 World Cup and the games that followed. Is Waldschmidt the answer to their troubles?

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See: Andrea Belotti reacts after his brace earned a 3-1 win for Italy in Euro 2020 qualifying

David Cooper - Writer 13:39 06/09/2019
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Andrea Belotti bagged a brace as Italy saw off 10-man Armenia 3-1 to extend their perfect start to Euro 2020 qualifying with a fifth straight win on Thursday.

Belotti would’ve had a hat-trick, but his goal in stoppages was incorrectly ruled offside.

With five wins from five matches, Italy lead Group J with 15 points.

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Spain and Chelsea No1 Kepa Arrizabalaga reflects on tragic Luis Enrique news

Press Association Sport 11:08 06/09/2019
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Kepa Arrizabalaga said the death of Luis Enrique’s daughter made for a difficult build up to Spain’s Euro 2020 qualifying win over Romania.

Spain began life without former coach Enrique by recording a 2-1 success in Bucharest to maintain their 100-per-cent record in Group F.

Tragedy struck in the lead up to the game when Enrique, who resigned in June due to family reasons, last week lost nine-year-old daughter Xana following her battle with bone cancer.

Chelsea goalkeeper Arrizabalaga, who ensured his side victory with two vital late saves, said his thoughts were with Enrique and called for Spanish fans to show support for the 49-year-old during Sunday’s qualifier against the Faroe Islands in Gijon.

“We send a very big hug to Luis Enrique in these difficult times,” said Arrizabalaga, according to the Spanish FA’s website.

“It has been a complicated week for everyone.

“You have to look forward. It is not easy, but life sometimes gives you these blows.

“We want to continue adding (against) the Faroe Islands. We must call on the fans of Gijon to honour Luis Enrique.”

There was a minute’s silence in memory of Xana ahead of kick-off in the Romanian capital.

Enrique had been absent for qualifiers against Malta, the Faroe Islands and Sweden earlier this year due to his personal circumstances, before stepping down.

Robert Moreno took charge of the team for the first time as permanent head coach on Thursday, having previously filled in on an interim basis.

Sergio Ramos’ penalty and a strike from Paco Alcacer earned Moreno a debut victory, which was made nervy by Romania substitute Florin Andone halving the deficit with half an hour to play and Diego Llorente’s 79th-minute dismissal.

Arrizabalaga, who was selected ahead of Manchester United’s David De Gea, then twice saved from George Puscas in stoppage time as the visitors hung on.

Moreno praised the crucial late contribution of the 24-year-old.

“I am glad that he helped us in the end, but I am just as happy with the work of others,” said Moreno.

“It is true that it has saved us in the end, and that stands out.

“I encourage everyone to continue working and they will give us joy in the future.”

Spain had looked on course for a comfortable victory after dominating proceedings but were almost made to pay for numerous missed chances.

Moreno added: “In the second half, with the score against them (Romania), they have opened up a little more.

“They are a complicated team and in the end these things happen in football.

“We would like the whole game to have been like the first half but you do not always get that.”

Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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