A game with so many absentees might be seen as a “devaluated” match, but not Holland – Germany. Never Holland – Germany.
There is too much at stake. In this case: prestige. Holland lost the two last matches against the arch enemy (friendly 0-3 last year and at the Euros 1-2 this year) and Holland wants to win.
Van Gaal has to make do without Sneijder, Van Persie, Strootman, Stekelenburg, Narsingh and Lens. At least four of which would start in the game, normally. And Germany coach Low has to miss Ozil, Klose, Schweinsteiger, Kroos, Boateng and Schmelzer.
Some of these players are not present because their club coach (interests) doesn’t want them to play. Robben: “Yeah, the club coach won’t like it too much.” And Strootman said earlier “If Advocaat has a say in it, I won’t ever play an international game…”. And the PSV midfielder indeed had to send his apologies.
Team manager Louis van Gaal has seen this reality from the club coach perspective and understands his colleagues. “But my job is to create a team that can go for gold in Brazil. But surely, some players won’t be here and we will do what we can with the ones we do have. It’s never a good time to expect to work on the automatisms now. We’ll do that in the run up to the World Cup.”
Van Gaal has called up more youngsters to replace the absentees: Jeroen Zoet, Bas Dost, Jordy Clasie, Ruben Schaken and Stefan de Vrij are the new names. But the former Bayern coach doesn’t want to experiment: “We started a new direction. I want to stick to this now. We are doing well in the series, so experiments are now not really required.”
The Oranje players do not see this game as a “obliged calender fill”. Robben: “I think this game is more important than the qualification games. In those games, we are supposed to win and the opponent plays defensive and hopes to get a result. Germany is actually a step ahead of us. We are not the favorites this time. And there is the usual pressure on both nations.”
“I’m not thinking about it in terms of revenge. We have started a new journey together. New players, new coach, new goal. And seriously, you can wipe a lost Euros game away with a win in a friendly…”
Rafa van der Vaart, player for HSV Hamburg: “Listen, it’s not a World Cup game we’re playing. It’s a friendly. But I like the attention, the pressure. It’s a special fixture. And despite the absentees on both sides, I’m sure we will see two quality teams. And as we’re not doing too shabby under Van Gaal I’m really looking forward to this game.”
Van der Vaart is in a betting game with the HSV goalie. When Oranje wins, the HSV goalie will wear an Oranje jersey at training. If Germany wins, Raf will wear a Mannschaft shirt.
“They like these types of bets in Germany. Just for a laugh.” The former Spurs man could be wearing the band for this match, with Strootman out and Kuyt most likely not starting. “I might. Who knows. But I don’t even know if I play. I’m not bothered. We’ll see.”
“This game is a good test for us. And interestingly enough, some of our new players are unknown in Germany. They don’t watch the Eredivisie in Germany. I think they will get to know some of our new lads. And it is time we beat them again.”