After what turned out to be a difficult afternoon for the Germans and a rather boring one for the fans, Germany will take on the Netherlands. The Germans will have a chance to knock out their most hated rival from Euro 2012.
For the Dutch, only a win will guarantee that they have something to play for on the final day of group B matches.
Germany had several problems in attack against Portugal. After the game, reports emerged about Miroslav Klose’s fitness. The former Bremen man was not fully fit and decided with Joachim Loew not to start the game. While Mario Gomez did score the goal to see the Germans get three points on the board, he did very little otherwise.
Bastian Schweinsteiger once again failed to convince everyone that he has fully recovered from yet another injury, acquired in May in Munich. Rumours suggest that Loew might bench the vice captain for this one and start with the youngster Toni Kroos.
Kroos’ qualities are obviously known to all; he can score brilliant goals, his vision is second to none, his passing is brilliant and he can play in a number of roles across midfield. Kroos lacks pace—this is the only down side to playing him. What is often understated is the fitness of the Bayern man. He featured in almost all of Bayern’s matches this season and played in most of Germany’s matches. He does not look fatigued at all.
For the Netherlands, two changes will most likely occur. They missed Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, their master finisher against the Danes as well as a solid defender at the back. Ron Vlaar or Johnny Heitinga will most probably be sacrificed for Joris Mathijsen if he is fit. Mathijsen, despite lacking pace, is a bullish defender and might be able to bully Gomez. Huntelaar will most probably make way for van Persie, unless the Arsenal striker starts in midfield with Ibrahim Afellay making way for him.
For reasons altogether different than the ones that defined the rivalry previously, this Netherlands vs. Germany match could be ugly. Recently, Arjen Robben was booed to no end by Bayern fans after his penalty miss in the Champions League final. His fellow Dutchmen including former Bayern captain Mark van Bommel and Wesley Sneijder defended him. The Dutch fans are probably not too happy with him either, after his selfishness took over and he descended into shooting haplessly against the Danish.
A worry for Loew will be Philipp Lahm’s performance on the left flank. Lahm performed well for Bayern on the right than on the left this season. A major concern, much more than that for Loew, might be Lukas Podolski’s performance. He played extremely well for Köln this season, but hasn’t performed for the national side for a while. With Andre Schurrle and Marco Reus waiting on the sidelines, Loew might consider another change prior to this one.
Germany might resort to counter-attacks for this one. Knowing how vulnerable the Dutch defence is and knowing how well the approach worked in the World Cup, they might try it again.
And finally, this will be the most likely lineup:
Jerome Boateng- Mats Hummels- Holger Badstuber- Philipp Lahm
Bastian Schweinsteiger/Toni Kroos- Sami Khedira
Thomas Mueller- Mesut Oezil- Lukas Podolski
Let me hear your thoughts on how this match will pan out.