Belfast Telegraph

Netherlands are in a great place ahead of NI's visit, maintains Babel

Netherlands forward Ryan Babel
Netherlands forward Ryan Babel

By Graham Luney

Netherlands hero Ryan Babel insists team morale couldn't be higher as they prepare to brush aside Northern Ireland in the race for Euro 2020 qualification.

Northern Ireland's 2-0 defeat to Germany has opened the door further for the slick Dutch in Group C.

The Netherlands' victories over Germany and Estonia have moved them to within three points of the two teams at the group summit - and with a game in hand.

The Dutch will be Northern Ireland's next opponents in Rotterdam on October 10 and with away clashes to come against Ronald Koeman's side and the Germans, the Green and White Army's hopes are fading.

Galatasaray frontman Babel, who netted twice in a 4-0 victory over Estonia on Monday, says the current Dutch side is more dangerous than previous squads which fell short in major tournaments. The former Liverpool ace feels the 2010 World Cup squad was too ego-driven, with Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben and Rafael van der Vaart in the spotlight.

"You had the battle between the 'Big Four' at the time," said Babel, who is now a regular in Koeman's side. "In my experience, they all wanted to be No.1.

"As strange as it sounds, I think this Netherlands side is more of a team. I don't feel we have egos right now. We all give each other the goal, the action or the pass. It's more a whole - there isn't anyone who stands head and shoulders above the team."

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