Posts Tagged ‘Holland’

Germany will not be taking anything for granted as they look to secure their passage to the last-16 of Euro 2012 in their game against Denmark tonight.

The Germans top the group after winning both of their opening games – the only team in the tournament to do so – yet qualification is still not guaranteed.

If Portugal beat Holland, and Denmark win 2-1, then Joachim Löw’s men will surprisingly exit the competition.

Löw, speaking to Uefa.com, said: “We have not qualified yet. It will be a tight, difficult match as Denmark too have hopes of reaching the last eight. Those who saw Denmark as outsiders before the tournament were wrong; we always knew they would be a threat as they’re compact and dangerous on the break.

“We will not underestimate them and I’ll not be letting anyone have a day off. If I make changes it will be because it’s beneficial for the team.”

Germany will be forced into making at least one change from the side that has won both opening games, with full back Jerome Boeteng suspended. He is likely to be replaced by either Benedikt Howedes or Lars Bender, although there is also the possibility captain Philipp Lahm could switch to right back.

Other changes to the starting XI seem unlikely, given both their form and what is at stake, but there is always a chance Löw will decide to rest some of his key players, with the likes of Miroslav Klose, Mario Goetze and Marco Reus all hungry for a chance.

Whatever the line-up, it would be a major upset for Germany to lose this one. While stranger things have happened, my money would be them not only qualifying, but doing so as group winners.

Prediction: Germany 2-1 Denmark

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Germany all but sealed qualification to the quarter finals of Euro 2012 with a 2-1 victory over old rivals the Netherlands.

A first half brace from Mario Gomez was enough to secure the win for Joachim Löw’s men, despite Robin van Persie pulling a goal back in the last quarter of the game.

Both sides created chances early on: van Persie shot straight at Manuel Neuer when put through; Mesut Özil hit the post.

Like Germany’s goal against Portugal, their opener was made by Bastian Schweinsteiger, and finished with aplomb by Gomez.

Schweinsteiger strode through the middle of the park unchallenged, teeing up his teammate to turn superbly and fire past Maarten Stekelenburg.

The movement of Germany was too much for Holland to handle, with Müller, Özil, Schweinsteiger and Khedira all proving too difficult for the Oranje to pick up.

It was this that led to the first goal, and so it was for the second. Once more it was Schweinsteiger who orchestrated it, and once more it was Gomez who finished it, with another cool strike past Stekelenburg.

Bert van Marwijk changed things up at half time, going more offensive with the introduction of Rafael van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar.

They certainly looked sharper going forward, and looked more than capable of getting a goal back.

However, pulling two back – and preventing Germany from scoring again – looked beyond them. They managed the second; they could not do the first.

Germany were still hitting them on the counter-attack, perhaps sensing the need to attack in the face of a possible Dutch onslaught. Defender Mats Hummels forced a double save from Stekelenburg.

Holland did get a goal – their first of the tournament – when van Persie turned away from his man and shot through the legs of Holger Badstuber and past Neuer.

It gave them hope, briefly, but it was not enough and the Germans held on to their lead.

Joachim Löw, speaking to Uefa.com after the game, said: “With this victory I think we’ve opened the door to the quarter finals. It’s now in our hands to make everything clear on Sunday [against Denmark].

“It was a very intense game today, a very tight game. The temperatures were extreme and it was difficult to keep a high tempo for the whole match. We did really well defensively as Holland’s game is to play on the attack – they have four or five top guys up there.

“What is clear in this so-called group of death is that we’ve already got six points. There is always room for analysis after a game, though.

He’s overshadowed in the Bundesliga by Mario Gomez, while at international level the spotlight falls on Robin van Persie, but is Klaas-Jan Huntelaar the best striker in the world?

This does not include Lionel Messi, nor Cristiano Ronaldo. Firstly, because neither are what you would class as an ‘out-and-out’ striker. Secondly, because they are out of this world.

The five top scorers across Europe, with the two mentioned above taken out of the equation, are van Persie, Gomez, Huntelaar, Zlatan Ibrahimovich and Wayne Rooney.

The table below shows their games and goals in their respective leagues, cups and European competitions this season, as well as their goals per minutes and the percentage of their team’s league goals they have scored.*

PREMIER
LEAGUE
DOMESTIC
CUP
EUROPE
NAME APPS GOALS APPS GOALS APPS GOALS GOAL/MINUTE % of team goals (league)
Van Persie 33 27 2 2 8 5 107.2 40.90
Gomez 30 25 4 2 11 12 88.6 36.23
Ibrahimovic 26 23 4 2 8 5 107.9 37.09
Rooney 30 24 2 2 7 5 106.4 29.26
Huntelaar 29 24 4 5 12 14 91.4 36.36

As demonstrated in the table above, only Gomez and van Persie have scored more league goals than ‘The Hunter’. Huntelaar also has more goals in domestic cups, and has scored more in Europe – although all of his have came in the Europa League, as opposed to the more prestigious Champions League.

Only Gomez has a better goals per minute ratio, and both players have considerably better ratios than the rest of their ‘rivals’. While the Bayern man scores more often, it is the Dutchman who has contributed more – albeit marginally – to his side’s league goals tally this season.

At international level, it would appear Huntelaar is again more valuable. He has scored 31 goals in 50 appearances for Holland, compared to his fellow countryman van Persie’s 25 in 62. Wayne Rooney has 28 in 73 for England, while Gomez has played 51 times for Germany, scoring 21 times. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has the worst goals/game record at country level, with 29 goals in 75 appearances for Sweden.

Stefan Bienkowski, of Bundesliga Football and Four Four Two, said: “The only out-and-out striker I could perhaps see above him would be Gomez, but Huntelaar does seem to have more strings to his bow. The Dutchman is often found cutting back and can fit in to the build-up play as well as any playmaker.

“His form and goals have been pivotal for Schalke this season. The club rest very comfortably in third place, which can be put down entirely to the amount of goals the team have amassed this season. Alongside Raul, the Dutchman has flourished and their ability to score certainly saves a rather average defensive record, from any blushes.”

*Stats courtesy of Soccerway.