Fancied Dutch under pressure against Germany

Fancied Dutch under pressure against Germany

KHARKIV - Reuters
Fancied Dutch under pressure against Germany

Germany coach Joachim Löw knows that the Netherlands will have too much to lose against his side. AFP Photo

Clashes between Netherlands and neighboring Germany always have extra spice but today’s Euro 2012 Group B encounter is about much more than regional rivalry after the Dutch began with a surprise defeat by Denmark.

A win in that game would have given Bert Van Marwijk’s team a little breathing space against the highly-fancied Germans but now three points are a must.

“It is going to be a battle but we have to show that we can become champions,” said Netherlands defender John Heitinga.

“We have to win now, there’s no excuse, and we are aware of that. We know know we have to win against the Germans.”

In the loss to the Danes Van Marwijk left Schalke 04 forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the continent’s top scorer in qualifying with 12 oals in eight games, on the bench until 19 minutes from time but he could now start the prolific striker.

If he does, Ibrahim Affelay, who was not impressive against the Denmark, would likely be dropped to allow Robin Van Persie to move to the left flank.

Regardless of the formation, the Dutch can ill afford a repeat of the poor finishing they produced against the Danes with Van Persie and Arjen Robben guilty of some bad decision-making and poor execution.

At the back, first choice central defender Joris Mathijsen could return to the starting lineup after resuming full training. If he is deemed match fit then stand-in Ron Vlaar would miss out.

 Germany did not look convincing in its 1-0 win over Portugal and coach Joachim Löw knows his side must be sharper against the Dutch and is demanding improvement in all areas.

Germany dominated the Dutch in a 3-0 friendly win in Hamburg last November, with both sides missing key players, and Löw said todays’s match will be an entirely different proposition with so much at stake.

“I don’t think it’ll play a role, we had players missing and they had three or four out, the style of play as far as both teams are concerned is clear,” said Löw. “We know each other’s systems, strengths and weaknesses. It will be a close game, as always.”

Either don’t lose or say goodbye

The German coach is aware that the Dutch have much at stake.

“If you lose the first game, you can’t lose the next or it is goodbye,” said Löw. Having opted for youth over experience against Portugal, Löw said he may only make slight changes to his winning team.

Arsenal centerback Per Mertesacker, who missed three months at the end of the Premier League season after ankle surgery, was left out for Borussia Dortmund’s Mats Hummels, who produced a stellar display against Portugal.

Veteran striker Miroslav Klose also began on the bench as Gomez started, rewarding Löw ‘s faith after he scored 41 goals in all competitions for Bayern Munich last season.

“I’m not one to say we do not change a winning team, so it is always possible that there are changes to make here and there,” said Löw. “I’ll make my final decisions after training on Tuesday.”

This will be the eighth time the teams have met at a finals tournament and the fifth occasion at the European Championship. Germany has three wins against two for the Dutch and two draws.