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|EURO 2012 Preview: Netherlands - Germany|
After the Dutch’s shock defeat Denmark, they will hope they can get back on the winning track. However a victorious German side are up next. Daniel Quinn sees how two wasteful sides will turn out in the biggest clash in Group B…
Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Venue – Metalist Stadium, Kharkiv, Ukraine
Local Kick-off Time: 20:45 CET
The Oranje started Euro 2012 in the worst possible way, as Bert van Marwijk’s side fell to Denmark 1-0.
The Dutch’s wasteful finishing was to blame, as Arjen Robben and an uncharacteristic performance from Robin van Persie failed to find the net.
However an impressive Wesley Sneijder controlled proceedings and fed Robben, van Persie and Ibrahim Afellay in attack.
Even the addition of Bundesliga golden boot winner Klaas-Jan Huntelaar off the bench could get past Stephan Andersen in goals for the Danes.
The ineffectual Afellay could make way for Huntelaar, with Rafael van der Vaart doing likewise in midfield, with Nigel de Jong likely to find his way to the bench.
Both of those changes could add the fire that Oranje require, however it means English Premier League top scorer van Persie may have to push wide, with Huntelaar moving up top, a move which may not get the most out of the Arsenal Captain, but van Marwijk needs to put results ahead of individuals.
One positive for the Dutch is the return of Joris Mathijsen returning to the centre of defence after a hamstring injury, with Ron Vlaar likely to make way. The Malaga defender will add his experience of playing in the Bundesliga, against a German side full with Bundesliga stars.
On the other hand, Germany got off to a great start against an unlucky Portuguese side, with a perfect placed Mario Gomez header. But it wasn’t a smooth ride for Joachim Loew’s side.
The Portuguese controlled the second-half, after the Germans were too wasteful, especially Lukas Podolski. The Polish born forward was off his game, as he rushed his efforts far too regularly, or blazed well over.
Despite their poor finishing, the Germans’ held on to their one-goal lead, with Mats Hummels, Holger Badstuber and Jerome Boateng defending terrifically throughout the evening, and they will need to continue that against the Dutch who will create plenty of chances.
Manuel Neuer was also on fine form, so even if the Dutch do find their shooting boots, the Bayern Munich custodian may stand in their way.
Both systems are going to be matched, as both nations, prefer to play with a 4-2-3-1 setup.
Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger will be key in the centre of the park, as their opponents de Jong and Mark van Bommel were caught out on multiple occasions against the Danish. But Die Mannschaft will have to be aware of the possibility of van der Vaart’s creativity if given a start.
Khedira’s job will be to stop Inter playmaker Sneijder, who continues to impress at big tournaments.
PLAYER TO WATCH: WESLEY SNEIJDER
As stated, Sneijder had a fantastic game against the Danes, controlling the tempo, and creating multiple chances for his teammates, only for his follow Dutchman to drag him down.
The Inter Milan playmaker’s passing and eye to pick out his teammates just shows why plenty of clubs are chasing the former Real Madrid midfielder.
And like against the Danes, the 28-year-old will be vital for the Dutch in creating chances, and also finding the net. The Ajax youth graduate doesn’t have the best of goal scoring records, but when on his day and find the net with a curling free-kick or screamer from distance, a factor the Germans will need to consider.
Loew and his side will need to make sure to not to concede Sneijder too much space, or too many free-kicks, as an effort from range, or a curling free-kick could just find the likes of Johnny Heitinga or Mathijsen.
The powerful Khedira will be keeping an eye on the playmaker, but Sneijder can easily find space and drift wide.
PREDICTION: Netherlands 0-1 Germany