Nations League: Relegated Germany face tough task against flying Dutch | Sports| German football and major international sports news | DW | 18.11.2018
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Nations League: Relegated Germany face tough task against flying Dutch

Germany have already been relegated from Nations League group A1, but there is plenty at stake when they face an in-form Netherlands. Joachim Löw has hinted that Thomas Müller could start, and win his 100th cap.

Germany's fate may have already been sealed on Friday night, when the Netherlands' slick 2-0 win over world champions France ensured the national team's relegation from the top group, but their game against Ronald Koeman's side in Gelsenkirchen is by no means a dead rubber.

While relegation to Group B may not be the worst thing for a Germany team going through something of an identity crisis under Joachim Löw, Monday's game against the Netherlands is an important one for Germany, who could be punished with a difficult qualifying group for the 2020 European Championship if results don't go their way.

The Nations League is not an easy concept to get to grips with, but along with the four group winners in League A, the six next-best teams will be seeded for December's 10-group draw, meaning two sides miss out. With Iceland already out of contention, Germany must better Poland's result against Portugal, who have already sealed their place as one of the final four of the Nations League. Failure to do so could see them drawn against a European heavyweight in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Achieving that is easier said than done. The Netherlands are chasing top spot in the group ahead of France and a place at next year's Nations League semifinals in Portugal, and Ronald Koeman's men will achieve that if they avoid defeat in Gelsenkirchen. With the Dutch flying and in their best form in four years, having also crushed Germany 3-0 in Amsterdam last month, a positive is by no means guaranteed for Löw's side.

Reus may miss out, Müller set to return

Germany's last outing was a straightforward 3-0 win over Russia in Leipzig on Thursday, which saw several of the young players impress as Germany showed what the future may look like within a more attacking setup.

Leroy Sané, who scored his first international goal, Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry all shone behind Timo Werner and Löw has hinted that Marco Reus may miss out because of a foot injury picked up in Borussia Dortmund's victory over Bayern Munich last week.

Deutschland Fußball Nationalmannschaft | Thomas Müller (Getty Images/Bongarts/A. Pretty)

Thomas Müller could win his 100th Germany cap on Monday against the Netherlands.

"If he is not at 100 percent he won't play. The risk would be too great," Löw said of Reus, who also missed the victory over Russia.

Toni Kroos and Mats Hummels are expected to return to the starting lineup and Jonas Hector has been pronounced fit after hobbling off in Leipzig, but eyebrows could be raised if Thomas Müller is reinstated to the starting 11 to make it a century of international appearances.

"He is not yet 30. When someone has 100 international games more or less in a row then that's top class," Löw said. "He has been as good as never injured. When others said they needed a rest, he was always there and gave everything for the national team."

If Müller does return, it would be harsh on Gnabry, who would be the likely player to miss out, despite impressing in recent games and scoring a wonderful goal against Russia.

Germany are looking to avoid setting an unwanted record of seven defeats in a calendar year, something that has never been done before.

"It's a pity for us that we can't straighten things up any more in the Nations League," Löw added. "Now it's about having the right idea for next year."

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