Sky Sports pundit Charlie Nicholas has been left blown away by the form of Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum for his country.
The 28-year-old has been one of the Netherlands’ key players in their successful rehabilitation under former Everton boss Ronald Koeman, and Nicholas has been very impressed.
“The youngsters are coming through for the Netherlands, while Memphis Depay, Georginio Wijnaldum and Ryan Babel have shone,” he wrote on the Sky Sports website.
“We know all about Virgil van Dijk and Matthijs de Ligt at the heart of the Dutch defence. It will be a comfortable night for the hosts. Northern Ireland don’t normally lose many goals but I think they will be put to the sword here.”
There’s no doubt that Wijnaldum has been in excellent form for his country over the past couple of years. The Dutch needed a hard reboot after years of mediocrity, and Koeman provided it. He made players like Van Dijk, Wijnaldum and Babel key men: players he knew he could rely upon. Then he brought through the endless line of talented Dutch youngsters around them. However, it’s been those three men – along with Depay – who have been the most important to the Netherlands’ resurgence. As per WhoScored.com, the Liverpool midfielder got two goals and an assist in two games for his country over the last international break. In the terrific 4-2 win over Germany he posted a WhoScored rating of 8.21. He really has been exceptional for his nation, and Nicholas expects Koeman’s team to roll on with a 4-0 victory over Northern Ireland on Thursday night. They will certainly be the favourites, and that’s because they have players like Wijnaldum.