The Netherlands scored a dramatic victory over Germany in the final moments of its European Under-21 Championship opener. Now the Jong Oranje turn their attention to Russia, which faltered last against Spain and is desperate for a win.
Lewis Holtby of Tottenham had seemed to secure a point for Germany inside the final 10 minutes. Leroy Fer struck back for the Dutch in the 90th minute to earn all three points and moved them within striking distance of a semifinal spot.
Russia put together a strong defensive effort to keep a talented Spanish squad off the scoreboard for 81 minutes. Unfortunately for the Russians, they couldn't muster any offense of their own, and the Roja got a late winner from Alvaro Morata.
What's your prediction for the Euro U-21 match?
So today's matchup amounts to a key turning point for both sides. Let's take a look at all the important viewing information for the tournament clash, followed by a preview and prediction.
Where: Teddy Stadium in Jerusalem, Israel
When: Sunday, June 9 at 12 p.m. ET
Watch: ESPN Deportes
Live Stream: ESPN3.com
The Netherlands' opening match featured what amounted to three different segments. Head coach Cor Pot was probably pleased with two of them.
In the first half, the Dutch side looked like a championship contender. It was controlling the pace of play and limiting the amount of stress on the back line. The Jong Oranje also scored the only two goals of the half, courtesy of Adam Maher and Georginio Wijnaldum.
Things changes right after halftime, though. Germany was able to turn the match around and destroy the rhythm the Netherlands had built up. Once the Germans tied the match, however, it was like the Dutch reignited, and they fought back to earn the win.
Finding a way to maintain top form for the full 90 is key. Eventually those dips will come back to haunt the Dutch later in the tournament if they don't eliminate them. It all starts with consistently strong play in the midfield led by Kevin Strootman.
The main focus for Russia is generating more offensive opportunities. The defense was terrific against Spain, but the counterattacking chances were limited, and Spain was able to keep the Russians from holding the ball for extended periods.
Which group has the key matchup edge?
They will get some reinforcements for the second match. Fyodor Smolov and Alan Dzagoev are set to join the side after returning from duty with the senior team, reports Sam Adams of UEFA.com. The two rising stars should provide a major attacking boost.
Russia must be careful, though. While earning all three points is crucial to their advancement hopes, the Sbornaya can't afford to become overly aggressive. First and foremost, they must maintain the strong defense they showed in the first match.
From there, they can start building toward more opportunities in the attacking third. Otherwise, the Netherlands will have a field day on the counterattack.
Ultimately, it should be a hard-fought match with the Netherlands pulling out another narrow victory.
Netherlands 2, Russia 1