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Netherlands feel heat ahead of Germany test

Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk was "irritated and tense" by his own admission, but Germany's Joachim Löw expects to face a Dutch side shorn of their shackles on Wednesday.

Bert van Marwijk admits his side are feeling the pressure
Bert van Marwijk admits his side are feeling the pressure ©Getty Images

If there were the embryonic signs of tension in the immediate aftermath of the Netherlands' loss to Denmark, the three days since seem to have done little to improve Berth van Marwijk's demeanour.

The Dutch coach was quick to concede that his team were "under pressure" after one sucker-punch condemned them to that defeat by the Danes, but Wednesday's encounter against Germany hardly represents the easiest fixture to kickstart their UEFA EURO 2012 campaign. History alone says as much: the 1974 FIFA World Cup final, the 1988 UEFA European Championship semi-final, not to mention a heated meeting at the 1990 World Cup.

Throw in a 3-0 friendly reverse against Germany last year and it is easy to see why Van Marwijk and his team, in temperatures upwards of 30C, are feeling the heat. "Of course the atmosphere is tense," said the 60-year-old. "For a big game like this – especially after you have just lost – of course it's going to be tense, here and in the Netherlands. That's why sometimes we're going to be irritated, but that's why we're going to have to be even more motivated."

Pressed on everything from the Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and/or Robin van Persie debate to the Dutch squad's decision to stay in Poland, Van Marwijk was not given an easy ride. However, for the assembled media in a city that is home to Svobody Square – one of the largest in Europe – pressing Van Marwijk merely left them going in circles.

"We're preparing for one of the most important games for the past few years," he said. "How to beat them? I won't tell you that because I'll tell my own team that. The Germans are very strong but we can also beat them. How we do that and where we do that, I won't tell you now."

Joris Mathijsen played a full part in Tuesday's open training session after missing the Denmark game with a hamstring injury, leaving both coaches with fully fit squads. Joachim Löw, though, looks to be selecting his side with far less weight on his shoulders; the 1-0 win against Portugal was Germany's 12th competitive triumph on the trot. The brains behind all that, Löw is keen to avoid Wednesday becoming unlucky No13.

"Both teams have fantastic possibilities up front," he said. "Our defence will be under pressure; what's important is the players show how good we are as a team. It won't always be possible to double up on players as they play fast football. Our defenders will have to win their one-on-ones. Holland need possession, they play attacking football and have world-class players up front who cause problems for any defence. I can't believe Holland will completely change their style or their tactics because of their last result."

Löw is not a man prone to hyperbole and is keen that the slate is wiped clean despite the unavoidable history between the sides. "It is a big rivalry with legendary matches in tournaments," he said. "They're the most interesting and best matches of the last 20-30 years. It will be very intense, there's a huge rivalry and technically it will be a very good, but what happened in the past is history now." As could the Dutch be if they lose on Wednesday.