The Dutch team desperately needs a win against Germany in Wednesday evening's make-or-break match. Both sides are cautiously optimistic.
To progress out of the group stage at Euro 2012, the Dutch team cannot afford to lose again, after having lost their opening match against Denmark.
"Everyone knows Holland is under pressure," said German Coach Joachim Löw.
Löw expects the team's offense to perform better than in Saturday's meager 1:0 victory over Portugal, “It is clear that we can improve.”
The Netherlands he sees as a serious opponent. “Both teams have world class potential, the Dutch especially in the offense,” he said. Though a 3-0 victory for the Germans over the Dutch in a friendly last November in Hamburg suggests otherwise, Löw expects a level playing field in Kharkiv.
"There is huge motivation, because we can already reach the quarterfinals,” said German defender Mats Hummels. "We are playing to win."
All German players are fit
The German coach has his entire bench for the match against The Netherlands, including Miroslav Klose, Per Metersacker and Mario Götze, who are coming off of long-term injuries. "We have absolutely no personnel problems,” said Löw. "All of the players are at a very good level.”
The Germans' lackluster performance against Portugal does not bother the players. “It is nice when you win and can still say: 'We can improve, we are not yet at 100 percent',” said strike Mario Gomez, who scored the winning header on Saturday night.
The Netherlands are under pressure
For 2010 World Cup runners-up The Netherlands, the European Championships may be all but over if Denmark manages at least a point against Portugal. The mood in Head Coach Bert van Marwijk's team is understandably tense.
He no longer wants to comment on the ongoing theme of whether to start Klaas-Jan Huntelaar or Robin van Persie as striker. Van Persie was the leading scorer in the English Premier League this past season, while Huntelaar lead all scorers in the Bundesliga. Thus far, van Marwijk has not to found a formation that accommodates both players - although that is something Dutch fans want to see.
Despite the unease surrounding his team, midfield playmaker Wesley Sneijder remains confident. "I think that we will win against Germany," he said.
With an average squad age of 27, Captain Mark van Bommel understands the importance of winning this summer. "We have to win," said the 35-year-old. “[Euro 2012] is the last chance for this generation to get a title."
The odds favor Germany
The matchup between the German national team and The Netherlands is full of history. With 14 wins, 14 draws, and 10 defeats, the outlook is positive for the Germans.
"Germany against Holland is always a very emotional and tense game,” said Team Manager Oliver Bierhoff. “We expect a hard struggle.”
It will no doubt be a heated affair. In Kharkiv, temperatures are expected to reach at least 30 degrees Celsius.
Author: Stefan Nestler/dr
Editor: Rina Goldenberg