Bayern stars go head-to-head at Euro 2012 for the first time on Wednesday evening, when Germany’s eight Munich men meet the Netherlands with Arjen Robben and former FCB captain Mark van Bommel in Kharkiv. Victory for the Germans, 1–0 winners against Portugal in their opening match, would see them through to the last eight with the third group fixture still to play, but the Dutch face an embarrassing preliminary stage exit.
“Both teams have world-class potential," said Germany boss Joachim Löw in the build-up to the Group B clash, “it's a meeting between equals." Löw called on his men to improve in their attacking efforts: “Everyone knows we can do better. All the forwards can be much more involved in the action." However, another solid defensive performance is a must, with energy-sapping temperatures around 30°C expected for Wednesday evening’s game.
Gomez in fighting mood
Löw is also expecting the Dutch to perform far better in attack than in their shock 1–0 defeat to Denmark. “Their forward line is among the best there is," the coach warned, aware of the enormous pressure to win weighing down on the men in orange. “But it makes no difference to us. We want to win our second match," declared striker Mario Gomez. The match-winner against Portugal is once again likely to start ahead of former Bayern team-mate Miroslav Klose.
The Portugal match was Bastian Schweinsteiger’s first international appearance since October 2011, and the midfielder is looking to continue his progress back towards peak form. “Bastian is back in match rhythm. I never had the feeling he was plagued by physical problems," remarked Löw, “Bastian totally believes in himself, his body language is good, he’s ambitious and determined to win."
All German players fit
The Germans turned in a scintillating display to beat the Dutch 3–0 in a friendly last November, but no-one is expecting a repeat on this occasion. “We'd be mad to think the match will follow a similar course. This is a tournament situation, and it'll be a lot more physical," warned team manager Oliver Bierhoff. “Germany against Holland is always an emotion-laden and tense match. We're expecting a tough battle."
Löw will field a full strength team, and is unlikely to tinker with his winning formation from the opening match. At Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, the coach duly stuck with teams which won their first game. “There won't be any major surprises," he confirmed on the eve of the game. Nor does he believe the Dutch will ring the changes: “There are no unknowns. The way both teams play is relatively clear."
Robben looking forward to reunion
For their part, the Netherlands went into the tournament as joint favourites, but now face what amounts to a do-or-die fixture. “It's already a final of sorts for them," Bierhoff noted. Captain Van Bommel is more than aware of the hazardous situation: “We have to win. This Euro is a last chance for this one–off generation to win a trophy. We need to be aware of this when we play the Germans."
Despite the precarious circumstances, Robben is looking forward to taking on his club colleagues. “Holland against Germany is always very special, and even more so this time. Almost half the players on the field will be from Bayern Munich," the winger commented. Naturally, friendships will be put to one side for the 90 minutes. “Wednesday belongs to us," Robben declared.