The Netherlands take on Germany today with the World Cup finalists knowing another defeat could threaten an early exit from Euro 2012 following their shock loss to Denmark.
In one of the key matches of the group stages, the Dutch have to pick themselves up from Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to the Danes as Michael Krohn-Dehli’s first-half strike decided a match the Dutch had largely dominated. Bert van Marwijk’s team now have to beat Germany and then Portugal on Sunday to be sure of qualifying from the pool.
“We have to win, we have no other choice,” said Dutch captain Mark van Bommel. However, all does not appear to be well in the Dutch camp with reports that several players including last season’s Bundesliga leading scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart are in dispute with coach Bert van Marwijk.
Inter Milan playmaker Wesley Sneijder said that there was nothing to be read into the reports of disunity.
“It is not obligatory that we should all be friends in order to play together and win games,” he said. “And I don’t have the impression that there are clans, or small cliques that are opposing each other. If that was the case I would react, because I am here to become champion of Europe.”
While the Dutch will be fighting for survival, Germany arrive in Ukraine knowing another win will put them in the quarter-finals.
“Clearly, the challenge is huge for the Netherlands,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew. “When you’ve lost the first game, you can no longer afford another defeat. They allowed themselves to be rushed against Denmark and they will not let that happen again.”
The Germans have a habit of crashing to defeat in their second game at major tournaments, despite starting with an impressive win, and team manager Oliver Bierhoff has said they must break the habitual second-game slump.
Germany play their final group game against Denmark in Lviv on Sunday, the same day Holland play Portugal again in Kharkiv.
Portuguese in must-win game with Danes
Portugal have yet to win this year but tonight’s game against Denmark would be an ideal time to end that run, as they take on the side that beat them to the top spot in qualifying.
The Portuguese – finalists in 2004 when they hosted the tournament – opened their Euro 2012 campaign with a far from dishonourable 1-0 defeat at the hands of one of the favourites for the title, Germany. But with the Danes, champions in 1992, having stunned the Dutch, Paulo Bento’s team know that while a draw would at least give them an outside chance of reaching the last-eight, nothing short of victory is required with the Dutch still to play.
Pivotal to them getting something out of the game will be for their captain and world class player Cristiano Ronaldo to get more involved than he was after yet another disappointing performance for him at this level against the Germans.
“Now we have to pick ourselves up and continue,” said Ronaldo. “We have to take as an example the team of 2004, when we also started with a defeat, but then reached the final. We have been playing well but just haven’t had the luck with our finishing.”
Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.
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