EURO 2012: Germany ready for Holland
Germany coach Joachim Löw is looking forward to a "healthy rivalry” and not a "war” against Holland in their second EURO 2012 encounter in Kharkiv on Wednesday, 13 June.
In a game steeped in tradition, Löw says the past does not count as his focus is on leading Die Nationalmannschaft into the last eight with a game to spare. Germany face Holland in Group B tomorrow aware of how much victory would mean to them and what damage it would do to their opponents.
Here and now
There has been plenty of dynamite in clashes between Germany and their neighbours Holland down the years, but Germany coach Joachim Löw tried to take some of the edge out of tomorrow's Group B encounter by letting bygones be bygones. "We played them only recently, but that won't play a role,” he said in Kharkiv. "That was not the true face of Holland and they will definitely play in a different way tomorrow and we are ready for it.”
Enlarge image Germany's head coach Joachim Loew during a training session (© dpa) November's 3-0 victory for Germany in a friendly match in Hamburg was the latest in a long line of classics which the two nations have delivered. "Our clashes belong to the most intriguing games in the last 20 or 30 years,” continued Löw. "Players in these games have become legends. There is a great rivalry, a great intensity and, of course, I think we can expect a technically very good game too. But we don't need to use words like war. Many Dutch players ply their trade here in Germany now and the relationship between the players is good. They are happy playing here and they are accepted by the fans, so there is no longer anything more than a healthy rivalry.”
Löw nevertheless expects a game close to boiling point, purely because of the soaring temperatures in Kharkiv. The Germany national team were met with a significant increase in the air temperature following their flight from Gdansk to Kharkiv and that is just one of the challenges which must be overcome. "If anything, it will be a battle in the heat,” he said. "We can certainly feel the difference here to Gdansk and it is not like we have much time to acclimatise, but the situation is the same for them too.” The Germany coach is keen to see how much the temperature drops this evening when he leads his final training session before tomorrow's match. That final get-together with the team will also determine who takes to the field on Wednesday night.
Enlarge image Germany's Mario Gomez during a training session of the German national soccer team (© dpa) "For me, the phrase ‘never change a winning team does not apply,” he said, hinting at changes to the side which defeated Portugal 1-0 last Saturday. "There are always different situations and, as a coach, you get the feeling that a change or two may do good.” Match-winner Mario Gomez and surprise defensive choice Mats Hummels therefore cannot sleep easily, safe in the knowledge they will play again. "Not necessarily,” added Löw. "Everybody is available to play and this is very pleasing after a long Bundesliga season and after our warm-up games and the Portugal game. Given the temperatures, we are probably going to use up our substitutions tomorrow when fresh legs are needed. But we are prepared for it and have like-for-like replacements for every position.”
All or nothing for Netherlands
Meanwhile in the Netherlands camp, the pressure is on to avoid being eliminated after just two games at a European Championship for the first time in their history. Yet coach Bert van Marwijk was in upbeat mood on Tuesday and insisted his side could earn a positive result. "Germany are strong, but we can beat them. I'm not going to tell you how though. Criticism is part and parcel of our job. Maybe you can start to question our way of playing after 20 games, but not after one defeat."
Germany: Neuer - Boateng, Badstuber, Hummels, Lahm - Khedira, Schweinsteiger - Müller, Özil, Podolski - Gomez
Holland: Stekelenburg - van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Willems - van Bommel, N. de Jong - Robben, Sneijder, Afellay - van Persie