Netherlands and Germany , considered pre-tournament favorites, now lie in a very dissimilar situation where the Dutch are fighting for survival having lost the first game and Germans looking to strengthen position at the top. There is no shortage of top quality talent in both teams having match winning players at their disposal. Soccerisma tells you about some key battles that can decide the outcome of the game.
With an uncharacteristic performance versus Denmark, chances are that the premier league top scorer Van Persie will be dropped to make way for Bundesliga top scorer Huntelaar. Schalke striker was also the main goal getter for his nation in qualifying and will be looking to convert the chances that his compatriot missed. Germany’s stand out defender in the last game, Hummels, will be very much pivotal in this fixture as well. He made several crucial interventions against Portugal and did not allow Postiga to get a sniff of goal. A similar performance is needed to stop Huntelaar from getting on the score sheet tonight.
Dutch will benefit from the return of veteran defender Mathijsen who missed the Denmark game with an injury. Heitinga was unimpressive versus Danish side and Malaga defender, Mathijsen, will have to step up to make amends tonight. His main task will be to stop German talisman Mario Gomez whose work rate and strength are continuous threat for any defense and will be looking to score again and make a serious case of winning the golden boot prize.
Van Bommel and Dejong played as defending midfielders for most part of last game protecting the back four. However, someone has to put pressure on Schweinsteiger and as De Jong will be focusing on Ozil, the Dutch captain will have to take this responsibility. Schweinsteiger commands the German midfield and guides the play with ease as he did against Portugal. The Bayern Munich star was the main reason behind Germany’s midfield dominance and Van Bommel must stop him from having such control.
The German captain praised Robben as one of the best around and is looking forward to the duel. The talent is undeniable but the Dutch maestro made some unusual decisions after getting into dangerous positions against Denmark, similar to the decisions he made in the Champions League final. On the other hand, Lahm had no problems dealing with the pace and trickery of Nani and assisted his teammates in stopping Cristiano Ronaldo. This will be an intriguing battle between the Bayern teammates with both players knowing each other’s game having trained together for club side.
Khedira faced no real threat from Portugal’s center midfield as Schweinsteiger pulled the strings and Moutinho could not influence the game. However, Sneijder is rated amongst the best attacking midfielders in the world. His shooting was not accurate in the last game but showed class in setting up Van Persie and Huntelaar only to see the strikers not taking advantage of his sublime passes. Khedira has to be on his toes to stop Sneijder who can always create something spectacular out of nothing.