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'Improved Netherlands can hurt any team' – Kroos warns Germany ahead of Euro 2020 qualifier

16:29 BST 05/09/2019
Netherlands England Nations League
The midfielder was part of the Germany side that beat the Dutch 3-2 earlier this year and is anticipating another tight encounter in Hamburg

Germany midfielder Toni Kroos talked up Netherlands' improvement over the past two years and expects another tough test when the sides meet in Euro 2020 qualifying.

Four-time world champions Germany have won all three qualifiers ahead of Friday's home match with Netherlands, who they beat 3-2 in their opening Group C match in March.

The Dutch got the better of their rivals in the UEFA Nations League last year, however, and Kroos believes Ronald Koeman's men have gone from strength to strength since failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.

"They have improved so much in the last two years," he said at Thursday's pre-match news conference. 

"Our games have always been tight and high quality. I'm expecting another tough match.

"With the amount of changes we've gone through, we've certainly not reached our limit yet. Netherlands can hurt any team. Our job is to stop them."

Germany followed up their victory over Netherlands in Amsterdam with a 2-0 win away to Belarus and an 8-0 thumping of Estonia to leave them three points behind leaders Northern Ireland, who they face next week.

Joachim Low has used a front three in each of those games but will be without injured duo Leroy Sane and Leon Goretzka, who started the reverse fixture with Netherlands, for Friday's clash at Volksparkstadion.

"Leon had a bit of a bruise after training yesterday," Low told reporters. "It's very important for a young team to gain familiarity, but we will still go into the game with a spring in our step despite the missing players.

"We want to keep playing with a front three. We can set up in a 4-3-3 or a 5-2-3, though. The team are very capable of doing both.

"Everyone is capable of showing their individual quality, but our unity and positional structure is our foundation.

Germany are also without Julian Draxler, Thilo Kehrer and Antonio Rudiger for their qualifying double-header and Low wants others to step up, such as three-cap midfielder Kai Havertz.

"He has real quality and can be a star player over the next few years," he said of the Bayer Leverkusen youngster. 

"He still needs to develop and improve, though. He's shown his class so far and I'm sure that he will establish himself."