Holland v Germany preview
Holland meet Germany in Wednesday's Group B key clash knowing another defeat will all but point the World Cup finalists towards an early exit.
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza
Last Updated: 13/06/12 7:54am
Holland meet Germany in Wednesday's Group B key clash knowing another defeat will all but point the World Cup finalists towards an early exit from Euro 2012.
Bert van Marwijk's side have to pick themselves up after Saturday's 1-0 defeat to Denmark in a match the Dutch had largely dominated.
They now have to beat rivals Germany at Kharkiv's Metalist Stadium, then Portugal on Sunday to be sure of qualifying from the pool, which has been dubbed 'The Group of Death'.
While the Dutch will be fighting for survival, Germany know another win will put them in the quarter-finals following their 1-0 victory over Portugal.
The misfiring Dutch have vowed to put things right in what promises to be a heated contest with daytime temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius (91 Fahrenheit) forecast in Kharkiv.
"We have to win (the remaining two games). We have no other choice," said Dutch captain Mark van Bommel.
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 Van Marwijk.
Huntelaar has already expressed his anger at Robin van Persie being selected ahead of him for the Denmark match and pointedly he was the only player who did not face the domestic press on Monday.
Meanwhile, Germany are in good spirits having won all 10 matches in their qualifying group and having already hammered the Dutch 3-0 in a friendly in November.
They head into the game in high spirits, although head coach Joachim Low has called on his side to be wary of their opponents.
"Clearly, the challenge is huge for the Netherlands," said Low.
"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."
Clashes between Holland and neighbours Germany are amongst the biggest in world football and always tend to be spicy affairs and there will be no quarter given when they renew their historic rivalry.
This will be the eighth time the teams have met at a finals tournament and the fifth occasion at a European Championship. Germany have three wins against two for the Dutch and two draws.
And there have been some classic matches between these countries such as the 1974 World Cup final, when Johan Cruyff's team scored an early penalty, only to lose 2-1 to the Germans in Munich.
The Euro '88 semi-final in Hamburg was a special moment for the Oranje Army as Marco Van Basten scored a last minute winner to beat the hosts 2-1.
And then there was the tempestuous 1990 World Cup second round encounter at the San Siro in Milan which Germany won 2-1, after their striker Rudi Voeller and Dutch stalwart Frank Rijkaard were sent-off before Andreas Brehme curled home a late winner.
Low admits he could make changes to his Germany side for the clash.
"I am not one of those who always says 'never change a winning team'. It is possible that there could be changes."
Mario Gomez, who scored in the 1-0 win over Portugal and has netted six goals in their last six matches in the qualifiers or finals, is a certainty to start ahead of veteran Miroslav Klose.
The striker suffered fierce criticism from ex-Germany midfielder and pundit Mehmet Scholl who joked that he "feared (Gomez) would get bed sores" from his lack of movement on the pitch.
Defender Mats Hummels is also expected to keep his place ahead of the more experienced Per Mertesacker.
Dutch coach Van Marwijk could start with the prolific Schalke forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, the continent's top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals in eight games.
If he does, Ibrahim Affelay, who was not impressive against the Denmark, would likely be dropped to allow Robin Van Persie to move to the left flank.
At the back, first choice central defender Joris Mathijsen could return to the starting line-up after resuming full training. If he is deemed match fit then stand-in Ron Vlaar would miss out.