Crunch time for DutchComment on this story
Gdansk, Poland – Holland take on Germany in Wednesday's Group B key clash knowing another defeat will all but point the World Cup finalists towards an early exit from Euro 2012 following their shock loss to Denmark.
In one of the key matches of the group stages, the Dutch have to pick themselves up after Saturday's 1-0 defeat to the Danes as Michael Krohn-Dehli's first-half strike decided a match the Dutch had largely dominated.
Bert van Marwijk's team now have to beat both Germany at Kharkiv's Metalist Stadium, then Portugal on Sunday to be sure of qualifying from the pool, which has been dubbed 'The Group of Death'.
“We have to win (the remaining two games). We have no other choice,” said Dutch captain Mark van Bommel.
After wasting a string of chances against Denmark, the mis-firing Dutch have vowed to put that right in what promises to be a heated contest with daytime temperatures of 33 degrees Celsius (91 Fahrenheit) forecast in Kharkiv.
“The only positive thing we can take out of the defeat is that we created lots of chances,” said midfielder Wesley Sneijder, who has endured an injury-ravaged season at Inter Milan.
“We'll also create chances against Germany – that's our strength – but they have to be converted or it's over for us.”
Both sides are expected to be at full strength, though, whether van Marwijk keeps faith with Robin van Persie up front or gives way to public opinion and starts with Bundesliga top scorer Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will be interesting.
While the Dutch will be fighting for survival, Germany arrive in Ukraine knowing another win will put them in the quarter-finals following Saturday's 1-0 victory over Portugal.
“The Netherlands now have their backs to the wall and they have to play to win,” said Germany coach Joachim Loew.
“This will make the game a bit more explosive and more difficult for us than we had already expected.”
Borussia Dortmund centre-back Mats Hummels produced a stellar performance against Portugal and the 23-year-old said the Germans expect to be attacked from the outset.
“The Dutch are practically obliged to win, they will play at their best and invest everything they have got,” said Hummels.
“Anything but a win could mean their tournament exit so it is already their final, way before the actual final.
“There is a huge history and a healthy rivalry between the two nations, so either team will have to give 100 percent, they have to win and we want to secure our passage to the quarter-finals.”
Germany beat Holland 3-0 in a friendly in Hamburg last November, but Hummels has warned eager fans not to expect the same dominant display against a Dutch side full of class and under pressure.
“In terms of the result, we can't possibly believe we will win as easily as we did,” he said.
“We will have to counter their efforts and control the game better than we did against Portugal.”
Hummels said the key to a victory will be making sure the lethal Dutch attack is given as little time as possible to line-up shots on the German goal.
“They have tremendous fire-power up front,” he said, “We have to ensure they don't get into a position where they are close to finishing, but world-class players need very few chances to score.” – Sapa-AFP