Some matches in international football are so mouth-watering, so steeped in history, so iconic that they make fans of all persuasions take notice.
Holland v Germany is undoubtedly one of those. A great rivalry that started with geography and continued over differing football philosophies has provided so many classic moments over the years that the prospect of the two powerhouses of world football meeting in any circumstances is thrilling for all involved.
Yet when the two countries meet at such a vital stage of a major tournament, fireworks are almost guaranteed.
The Group of Death lived up to its name on Saturday as Denmark emerged victorious from their opening match against Holland (not as much of a shock as some would have you believe), leaving the Dutch needing to get a result against their most hated enemy in Kharkiv on Wednesday night to stay in Euro 2012.
Germany, on the other hand, couldn’t have got a better result in beating Portugal 1-0 (I hope you were on my successful 9/5 tip for that game) and odds of 19/50 to win the group show how in control of their own destiny Joachim Low’s side are.
With Robin van Persie picking up where he left off from his last major tournament – playing like a drunk Ade Akinbiyi – Holland have problems.
And wouldn’t Germany, who have shortened to 29/10 to win Euro 2012, revel in beating Holland and sending them home with their tails between their legs?
The scenario is on the cards: defeat for the Oranje would have them packing their bags, which would surely leave coach Bert van Marwijk in a perilous position, given Dutch unhappiness still festers over his tactics during the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
The odds compilers seem to think an early exit is on the cards, with bwin making the Germans the 13/10 favourites to take the three points, with the draw at 12/5 and Holland quoted at 2/1.
I cannot see past Germany winning this. They were not at their scintillating best against Portugal, but that is down to two factors: there is always a sense of feeling yourself into a tournament for major nations who don’t want to peak too soon, while Portugal must be credited for how difficult they made life for Germany, even if their attacking threat in open play was non-existent until they went a goal behind on 72 minutes.
Even still, Low’s side managed to find a way to win – always a great trait to possess and a vital one to have if you’re going to win a short tournament like the European Championships – and I have no doubt that Germany will improve as the competition progresses.
I think this spells trouble for Holland. The Dutch performance against Denmark has been overrated in my eyes.
Yes, they had 28 shots, but many of those were wild efforts from Wesley Sneijder and the pathologically selfish Arjen Robben and I don’t think Danish goalkeeper Stephan Andersen had too many troubling saves to make.
With Robin van Persie picking up where he left off from his last major tournament – playing like a drunk Ade Akinbiyi – Holland have problems. And that is before you even get on to their dodgy defence that will be ripped apart by teams who can offer more than Dennis Rommedahl and Nicklas Bendtner.
Germany offer much more and I don’t think Holland can cope. Germany’s brilliant counter-attacking game will find gaps in the Dutch rearguard and I am all over the 13/10 on a German win.
I wouldn’t normally use a friendly result as an indicator of how a competitive match will pan out, but the two sides met in a friendly in November and Germany emerged victorious 3-0.
Even though Holland made more changes than Germany, that is looking increasingly like a fair reflection of the quality of the respective squads and with hints that all is not well in the Dutch camp – is it ever? – Germany taking the lead could have Holland throwing in the towel.
If that happens, the 17/5 that Germany beat the one-goal handicap is also worth a look – they have scored 58 in their last 23 outings, after all.
Recommended bet: Germany to win @ 13/10
Outside punt: Germany to win by two goals or more @ 17/5
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