Holland Euro 2012 Focus – Old rival blocks path for Euro dreams

Disappointing is the word Dutch journalists are using on their Euro 2012 hopefuls, but Holland can count themselves drastically unlucky that they did not grab all three points against Denmark in their group B opener. Bert van Marwijk’s team had 29 shots at goal, compared to four from Morten Olsen’s side, and Holland players were perplexed at how they were unable to break down the Danish backline.

John Heitinga insisted their defeat in the opener was ‘a miracle’ and ‘there is no way anyone can say Denmark deserved to win’. The Everton defender was at fault for Michael Krohn-Dehli’s solitary goal of the game, selling himself too easily as the Brondby midfielder skipped through the defence and smashed a left-footed drive through Maarten Stekelenburg’s legs. However, Heitinga will be buoyed by the return of regular defensive partner Joris Mathijsen, who is expected to recover from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of the Denmark encounter.

The Dutch defence did not have much to deal with in the Metalist Stadium and the main problems came from a Holland attack that could not find the goal. Van Marwijk went with Arjen Robben wide right, Ibrahim Afellay wide left and Wesley Sneijder playing off Premier League top goalscorer Robin van Persie. With Spurs playmaker Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar from the bench, it wasn’t expected that Holland would be unable to beat a mediocre Danish defence. Robben wasted a handful of chances, as did Van Persie, and Van Marwijk may be tempted to start with Huntelaar against Germany, a game the Dutch have to win.

Van Persie’s adaptability could see him take up a position wide on the right or the left with Afellay sacrificed for the Schalke forward. Huntelaar’s eye for goal will cause problems to the German defence and if Robben loses the selfishness he showed against Denmark, the Dutch striker will be presented with a host of opportunities. Rafael van der Vaart could also be brought in instead of Nigel de Jong, which offers another option going forward as Holland are expected to go all out for victory.

One thing is certain: the game between the Oranje and the Mannschaft will be highly volatile and hugely competitive. Over the last four decades, the two sides have engaged in some classic encounters and the Group B fixture on Wednesday will be as important. The Germans can virtually seal their place in the quarter-finals with a win over Holland and with no game between the two sides ending in a 0-0 draw, there are guaranteed goals in Kharkiv.

Holland know what they have to do and the pressure is firmly on the 2010 World Cup finalists, who have to discover their goalscoring touch against a German defence that managed to keep out the best European footballer for a decade in Cristiano Ronaldo. No win against Joachim Low’s side and Holland, one of the tournament favourites, could be out in the group stages.

See what the expert tipsters at OLBG are tipping on Holland v Germany

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