Fancied Dutch under pressure against Germany
Denmark vs Portugal 18:00 SS3
Netherlands vs Germany 21:00 SS3
KHARKIV – Clashes between Netherlands and neighbours Germany always have extra spice but Wednesday’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 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 goals 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 their 1-0 win over Portugal and coach Joachim Loew knows they must be sharper against the Dutch and is demanding improvement in all areas.
“We have taken the first little step but the game against Netherlands will be very different,” Loew said.
“We have not taken a big step. We had games like the one against Portugal also at the 2010 World Cup. (After winning against Australia), we lost to Serbia.
Loew has hinted he may tinker with his formation but has kept his cards close to his chest and says he won’t let his preparation by influenced by his opponents.