Germans and Dutch renew football rivalry
14 June 2004, PORTO - Germany and the Netherlands renew their long-standing football rivalry on Tuesday at Euro 2004 with the Dutch seemingly under bigger pressure than the three-time champions Germany.
14 June 2004
PORTO - Germany and the Netherlands renew their long-standing football rivalry on Tuesday at Euro 2004 with the Dutch seemingly under bigger pressure than the three-time champions Germany.
"They didn't play at the last World Cup, that's why they are under huge pressure. They have unique individual skill but haven't proven it recently," said Germany playmaker Michael Ballack.
Dutch marksman Ruud van Nistelrooy admitted that "the atmosphere is subdued after the lost test matches," referring to 1-0 home defeats against Belgium and Ireland.
Both countries have in fact not looked impressive going into the tournament, and with the Czech Republic (as well as Latvia) also in group D, they will be desperate not to lose.
Ahead of the match in Porto, coaches Rudi Voeller and his Dutch counterpart Dick Advocaat have very different problems, though, as they complete the fine-tuning in secret training sessions.
Voeller needs to find a striking combination that can score goals upfront, with forwards Thomas Brdaric, Fredi Bobic and Miroslav Klose drawing blanks in their last few matches.
Only VfB Stuttgart's Kevin Kuranyi has managed to look reasonably impressive. He should be guaranteed a place in the starting line up, and Voeller has even contemplated playing him as a lone striker.
"We need to score a goal now and then," said Voeller, who himself netted 47 goals in his 90 caps as a player.
Goalkeeper Oliver Kahn also has played below par over the past months and there are also defensive concerns in the wake of a 2-0 defeat against Hungary in the run-up.
The good news in general is that Germany normally excel at big events.
"You shouldn't take the friendlies so seriously. There is a huge difference between friendlies and qualification matches, and a tournament is something else again. It's a world apart," said Voeller, who hopes to unnerve the Dutch with aggressive play.
The Germans will also be happy that Dutch coach Dick Advocaat has decided to field just one of his three possible star strikers in the form of van Nistelrooy.
The Manchester United man got the nod over Munich's Roy Makaay and Dutch international top scorer Patrick Kluivert.
The Dutch coach's biggest challenge is to get the group of talented and skilled individuals to play as a team.
He even went so far as to have a formal meeting with four key players to discuss team tactics after defeats against Belgium and Ireland in warm-up games - only to find himself on the receiving end of some sharp criticism from Kluivert who was not invited.
Like Voeller, Advocaat is virtually free of injury worries, with only out-of-favour Clarence Seedorf nursing a slight injury.
"He trained very hard on his own at the beginning of the weekend and we have to wait to see how his body will react. Clarence is still hoping that he will be able to play against Germany," Advocaat said.
The Czech Republic and Latvia meet in Tuesday's other group D game in Aveiro.
Subject: German news