First came the disastrous exit from the World Cup in Russia. Then a bitter race row and a splintered dressing room saw Mesut Ozil turn his back on the country. Germany experienced the outrage of relegation from the UEFA Nations’ League. Looking for answers, Low decided to axe. He dropped World Cup winners Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Thomas Muller from his squad completely.
In Amsterdam, Low’s decisions paid off spectacularly. Low placed his confidence in Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry, who each scored, and then introduced Marco Reus as a substitute in the 88th minute and the winger Nico Schulz nets the winner within two minutes of his arrival.
For Germany, it seemed to mark another setback. They had won only three of their past fifteen international fixtures over the past 16 months and scored just fourteen goals during a doomed spell.
The bitterness and resentment between these two nations linger on. It was heard that Dutch whistles drowned out the German national anthem and in the ferocity of the home response in the second half. This was never likely to be a repeat of the infamous Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Voller episode but there were scores to settle.
In the Nations League group stage, Holland defeated their neighbors by a three-goal scoreline in Amsterdam. Low described his team as ‘headless chickens’ after that defeat and here they sought vengeance.
Sane punished a rare De Light slip to hand the visitors the lead but Holland should have drawn level as Ryan Babel was denied by Manuel Neuer.
Gnabry then undid Van Dijk, slipping in behind the Liverpool defender and then checking back inside to score the second goal into the top corner.
Germany threatened to score a third. Gnabry threaded a pass in behind for Sane who ran beyond Van Dijk but thwarted by Jesper Cillessen. But instead, the fightback came and Germany seemed to wilt. Yet just as Holland’s hopes rose, Schulz struck the winner.