This article is part of Football FanCast’s In Numbers series, which takes a statistical look at performances, season-long form and reported transfer targets…
And with that, the first main part of qualifying for Euro 2020 is over.
20 teams have secured their places at the tournament next summer, with four spots still up for grabs. A mixture of third-place teams, as well as nations who won their UEFA Nations League groups, will fight it out for the remaining few slots.
All of the big, traditional European powerhouses have secured their place at the competition already, though. Including the Netherlands, who finished second in their group behind Germany. On Tuesday, they played their last match of the year against Estonia, who they thrashed 5-0.
It was a special night for Georginio Wijnaldum. The 62-cap Liverpool midfielder put in a fantastic performance and even bagged a hat-trick. It was one facet of an outstanding offensive display.
Those three goals came from just five shots throughout the match, four of which were on target. Not only that, but he managed to pick up a pass accuracy of 92%, landing 61 passes. In terms of key passes, only Calvin Stengs and Quincy Promes managed more for the Oranje than Wijnaldum’s two. He also won one aerial duel and lost possession of the ball just nine times.
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The 29-year-old was able to display all of his offensive ability, and it continues an impressive run in front of goal for the former Newcastle man at this level. This is his eighth goal of the qualification campaign, which makes him the Netherlands’ top scorer.
This is a stark contrast to his record for Liverpool. From the start of last season, he has managed three goals more internationally than he has for the Reds, which is a rather incredible stat considering how well Jurgen Klopp’s side have performed in the last 18 months or so.
For his nation, he is given far more of an attacking role than he is for the Merseyside club. For example, during the qualifiers, he has averaged three shots per game compared to 1.3 in the Premier League this term, whilst he has one dribble compared to 0.8 and 1.6 key passes compared to 0.2. There really is no comparison in regards to the way he plays for each side.
And it appears to be working out for him. Which does beg the question, why does Klopp limit his offensive ability so much? Granted, the Reds do manage a lot of goals – they have the third-most in the league so far this season, and had the second-most in the previous campaign – but surely giving the £45m-valued man more freedom would give Liverpool an extra threat. Maybe it is something for the former Borussia Dortmund boss to consider in the future.