The Euro 2012 Group B showdown between Netherlands and Germany is a perfect example of how quickly storylines can change in sports. The Germans were the second favorite in the tournament before things started, with the Dutch not too far behind as the third choice to take home the hardware. Germany looked the part in their 1-0 win over Portugal, keyed by a goal by sniper Mario Gomez. Netherlands didn’t have nearly the same kind of day, though.
Not even close.
Denmark - the team with the longest odds of winning the championship in the whole tournament - scored 24 minutes in to knock the Dutch off their game and they never recovered. Thanks to that 1-0 loss this one has gone from a contest between rivals in top form to an absolute must win for the Dutch. They wouldn’t be eliminated with a loss, but they would certainly be in trouble.
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The game will be played in Kharkiv, Ukraine on Wednesday, June 13. The game kicks off at 2:45 pm ET.
Bovada has Germany favored on the moneyline at +130, with Netherlands at +210 and the draw at +240. The point spread is set at pick, with Germany at -155 and Netherlands at +120. The total is set at 2.5, with both the ‘over’ and the ‘under’ currently at -115.
More than any other single thing, the Dutch could not afford to get poor play from star Robin Van Persie. He needs to be the driving force of this offense, and he certainly has the talent. In major tournaments, though, he seems to get inside his own head. His play in the Denmark game was beyond lousy, and he seemed to actively avoid opportunities more than once in the game. He had played very well in league play leading up to this tournament, but the first game was so bad that pressure is intense to replace him with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. This is precisely the kind of high-profile distraction the team didn’t need.
That’s not the only lineup change that could happen. Defender Joris Mathijsen wasn’t healthy enough to play in the opener, but he was missed and is likely to be forced into action here. The German attack is considerably more potent than what the Danish can muster, so defensive strength is a key concern.
Heading into this tournament it was easy to have questions about the mental state and general toughness of this team. They have an established history of underperforming in big tournaments, so they aren’t exactly the toughest team out there at the best of times. Their fans and national media are insanely upset right now, though, and Coach Bert van Marwijk doesn’t seem to be handling the pressure very well. It is absolutely crucial that the team gets out to a strong early start and makes a statement. If Germany scores first the Dutch could spiral into serious darkness.
While the Germans played well enough to win they certainly can’t be thrilled with their performance, either. They didn’t look as sharp as they can or need to be, and they relied far more on their defensive play than they ideally would. It’s a sign of just how strong this team is, though, that they can win against a pretty solid team while performing well below their best.
The biggest issue surrounding this team going into the tournament was at striker. It wasn’t that they lacked a good option -- just the opposite. Mario Gomez is one of the hottest goal scorers in the world, while Miroslav Klose is more of a veteran presence on the team and no offensive slouch himself. Head Coach Joachim Loew went with Gomez, and it paid off as Gomez scored the winner. While that is likely enough to earn Gomez the start again, Loew isn’t the type of coach to be afraid of making a change if he thinks it is warranted -- whether they are winning or not.
Like the Dutch, the Germans need to focus on a strong start to the game. They are an explosive offensive squad matched up against a Dutch team with potential defensive vulnerabilities. A goal in the opening minutes may not be all that the team needs, but it would certainly set the right tone.
This will be the eighth time that these rivals have met at a major tournament. Germany has the edge with three wins and two draws. Most recently, they met six months ago in a friendly in Hamburg. Germany won 3-0 and looked far the better team. It would be a mistake to attach too much significance to that game, though. Rivals that know they could face each other in a key situation soon in an important game are very unlikely to play at their full potential or show off any of their tricks in a game that means nothing.
Picks and Betting Predictions
I just can’t justify anything other than a moneyline pick on Germany here. They are the better team on paper, they are in a much better mental state, and they have the offensive power to exploit the Dutch weaknesses. I don’t see this game to be particularly close – at least in soccer terms. Germany will win, 2-1.
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