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Stekelenburg predicting Dutch improvement

Maarten Stekelenburg tells UEFA.com the Netherlands failed to show the requisite clinical edge in losing to Denmark, but is convinced it will be a different story against Germany.

Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg talks to UEFA.com
Netherlands goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg talks to UEFA.com ©Sportsfile

Having unexpectedly lost their opening Group B game, the Netherlands have little margin for error as they prepare to take on Germany. In an exclusive interview with UEFA.com, goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg reflects on what went wrong against Denmark yet is confident the Oranje – one of the pre-tournament favourites – will bounce back tonight in Kharkiv.

UEFA.com: Maarten, you've had a couple of days to reflect on the defeat by Denmark. How do you feel now when you look back on it?

Maarten Stekelenburg: It's difficult, because we were the better team. But if you don't take your chances, then you know that the opposition might use their one or two opportunities to score. We were unlucky, I don't think we deserved to lose, but we ended up with nothing.

UEFA.com: In your opinion, what did Denmark do right?

Stekelenburg: They defended well. We tried to put them under pressure but it took a lot of strength and effort, especially in such hot and humid conditions. As a result, more and more gaps opened up in the second half and the Danes really took advantage of this.

UEFA.com: Let's look forward now to Germany. What's your first thought?

Stekelenburg: I'm very confident about the game, and I could really sense that in training today. We'll do everything we can because we need a good result to stay in the tournament.

UEFA.com: Matches against Germany are always special for the Dutch. What is it that makes these occasions so highly charged?

Stekelenburg: Not just for the Dutch but also for the Germans. There has always been this huge rivalry, stretching back to the days when guys like [Willem] Van Hanegem played, although it has died down a bit in the last couple of years. Of course, if a player falls over, then the fans of the other team will take great delight in this. The Germans just love these situations, but if it was the other way round I'm sure our fans wouldn't be any different. To be honest, it doesn't bother me that much.

UEFA.com: What kind of game can we expect?

Stekelenburg: I think we'll start the game the same way as against Denmark, but the danger is that Germany have great players to counterattack if we lose the ball. That's why we'll have to be very wary of blocking those counterattacks, because that's one of their strengths.

UEFA.com: Klaas-Jan Huntelaar came on as a substitute against Denmark; could he add something if picked in the starting lineup?

Stekelenburg: I'm not going to say anything about the lineup. Whether it's [Robin] Van Persie or Huntelaar who plays is something for the coach to decide. Only 11 players can play and there will always be another 12 players in the squad who are unhappy about it, but that's football.

UEFA.com: Germany have a real goal threat in Mario Gomez, as we saw against Portugal. How much do you know of him and his team-mates?

Stekelenburg: We all know them. On the other hand, you just mentioned Gomez but we could equally talk about Van Persie or Huntelaar. That's not the problem. Germany have a very good team, with some great players, but so do we.

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