Robben plots revenge against Germany

Another tasty encounter between historic rivals.At club level in La Liga in Spain we have the famous El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona. Germany's equivalent is Der Klassiker between Bundesliga stalwarts Bayern Munich and Hamburg (HSV). At international level Germany against bitter rivals Holland is a mouth-watering clash worthy of similar billing.
Their rivalry was perhaps summed up most fittingly by legendary Dutch coach Rinus Michels, when he said "football is war".
Germany's own Fussballgott 'Kaiser' Franz Beckenbauer added, "Matches against Holland have cost me years of my life. But I wouldn't have missed them for anything. Those matches always breathed football of class, emotion and unprecedented tension."
A most vivid memory from various hate-filled encounters is from 1990 World Cup when Frank Rijkaard and Rudi Voller were sent off when the Dutchman spat in his German opponent's hair.
After hooligans kicked off at yesterday's tasty Poland versus Russia fixture, both the German and Dutch camps have been wise to play down the importance of tonight's Group B clash in Kharkiv in the Ukraine and try to keep it as low-key as possible.
But one cannot ignore tensions simmering beneath the surface, especially for the Dutch who have to bounce back from a disappointing opening defeat against the Danes.
Wesley Sneijder is in no doubt about the importance of the occasion.
"It's the game. The biggest Holland can play. I grew up watching these games on television and they're always something different. I've dreamt of playing and scoring the winner against the Germans."
Robben posing with a Dutch/Bayern strip. Photo courtesy FC Bayern Munich.One player with extra motivation to do well is Arjen Robben. The Dutch winger was roundly booed by bitter Bayern Munich fans in a friendly match against Oranje at the Allianz Arena, just days after he missed a penalty in their Champions League final defeat to Chelsea.
Arsenal's Robin van Persie's uncharacteristic lack of composure and class in front of goal against Denmark could see Schalke's Klaas-Jan Huntelaar replace him in attack. Van Persie looked strangely out of sorts in a spluttering Dutch performance.
The Germans were also far from convincing against Portugal but as usual got the job done. Mario Gomez's second-half winner proved enough to seal a twelfth successive competitive win for 'The Mannschaft'.
Germany coach Joachim Löw warned, "Our job is to qualify for the next round so it's not so important what their situation is.
"We want to win the game and take a decisive step towards qualifying."
Löw did not rule out making changes to his side, however, despite the important opening win against the Portugese in Lviv.
"For me, the phrase 'never change a winning team' does not apply," he said.
"There are always different situations in which, as a coach, you get the feeling that a change or two may do you good."
The Germans will relish an opportunity to virtually knock out one of their biggest rivals. However, it is worth noting that their record in second-round group fixtures over the last few years leaves a lot to be desired. They lost to Serbia at the last World Cup, while they also lost to Croatia in their second match of Euro 2008. They've also failed to beat Ireland, Latvia and England at this stage of recent international competitions.
Robben & Van Bommel - Bayern past & present will line up for Oranje. Photo courtesy FC Bayern Munich.In 38 games against Holland it is the Germans who hold the upper hand with 14 victories. The Dutch have mustered just 10 with the rest drawn.
Germany cantered to an easy win in the last meeting of the two sides in a leisurely 3-0 'friendly' win last November in Hamburg.
However, in a total of four clashes at the European championships, the Germans have only managed one win in 1980. Oranje have prevailed twice in 1988 and 1992 with one draw in 2004.
The Dutch defence looked extremely poor against the Danes and it remains to be seen whether ex-HSV defender Joris Mathijsen can make a big difference here.
Indeed, both teams' weak spots are at the back so if there is an early goal it really could be an entertaining goal-fest. Temperatures in the Ukraine are expected to be around 30 degrees at kick-off. Referee Jonas Eriksson from Sweden has the hardest job trying to prevent tempers boiling over on the pitch.

Prediction : Germany 3 Holland 2 (Robben with a goal for the Dutch, but not a penalty)


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