Holland defeat sets up Group B do-or-die match against Germany
After defeat against Denmark, Holland believe they need to beat arch-rivals Germany to progress in Euro 2012
GERMANY got their European Championships campaign off to a winning start with a 1-0 defeat of Portugal but the biggest surprise on Saturday was Denmark’s victory over the Dutch by the same scoreline.
Holland, the 2010 World Cup finalists, dominated the encounter but Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie had left their shooting boots at home and wasted several chances that came their way.
In contrast, Denmark’s Michael Krohn-Dehli kept his composure on 24 minutes as Denmark launched their first serious attack of the Group B clash. After good initial work by Simon Poulsen, Krohn-Dehli swerved past two defenders and rifled the ball under Dutch goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg.
Holland continued to attack at the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv but even after having a penalty claim denied, Robben striking a post, Van Persie fluffing a chance and Mark van Bommel producing a fine save from Stephan Andersen, the men in Orange drew a blank.
“We were really determined and better than our opponents but of course you have to score that goal, that's part of the game,” said Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk. “We can still do a lot and we just have to beat Germany. That's not going to be easy but that's the goal now and everyone knows that.”
The two fierce rivals meet on Wednesday and the Germans will go into the game full of confidence after a battling defeat of Portugal. Mario Gomez scored the only goal of the game on 72 minutes, heading home Sami Khedira's cross in a match the Germans deserved overall to win.
Portugal never really came to life, although they nearly snatched a draw late on when Manuel Neuer pulled off a sharp save to deny Silvestre Varela. With an average age of 25 years, the German XI fielded by coach Joachim Löw was their youngest in a European Championship finals but they repaid his faith with a mature performance that bodes well for the rest of the tournament.
“The European Championship is like a Formula 1 race without the warm-up,” said Löw later. “You have to make a good start and get off the grid straight away; there are no easy games. You have to win your first match and we did… we can see where we need to go now… but the onus is on the losing teams to recover so we have to be wary of the Netherlands.”
Sunday’s matches sees defending champions Spain take on Italy while the Republic of Ireland play Croatia. No country has ever won back-to-back European Championships and Spain coach
Vicente Del Bosque warned their rivals: “We prepared well for this tournament and are ready for any situation on the night."
Asked whether there was any truth in the rumours of a Barcelona/Real Madrid divide in the Spanish squad, Del Bosque replied: “We have a stupendous group who all get along well with one another.”