Former Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann is a man who knows what it takes to succeed in major tournaments, having been a member of the Germany squad that made the final of the 2002 World Cup.
The midfielder tasted plenty of success at club level with both Bayern Munich and Liverpool, but today we quiz Hamann who how he thinks Germany will get on against Holland on Wednesday night in Ukraine.
Hamann talks us through the key battles and explains why there is such a rivalry between the two teams.
How will Joachim Löw accommodate all the talented young player’s that he has at his disposal, particularly in your midfield?
I think that is probably his biggest task, to find a balanced team because these days you need to have the right mix between defence and offence. Most of the players are flair players which we haven’t had in the past 15 years. We’ve got Götze, Özil, Schweinsteiger and Kroos, four players that all like to go forward and create things. I think it will be very important for Schweinsteiger to be on top form because he can be the one who dictates the pace in the middle of the park. He’s been out for quite some time and though he is back now in recent weeks I feel he has looked a bit flat, he’ll be a major player if they want to be successful in the tournament.
Germany are in a hard group and I would guess Holland will be the toughest opponent, what have you made of Holland’s evolution since the World Cup final when they were heavily criticised? How do you think they have come on since then?
I think they responded well because sometimes when you loose a big final you can get a bit of a dip but they qualified convincingly and they’ve got Robin Van Persie: a stand out player in Europe this year along with Messi and Ronaldo. Nigel De Jong will also have got a big lift winning the Premier League and Van Bommel is a very experienced player so they’ve got a very strong midfield and it’s a very physical team. In addition Wesley Sneijder and Van Persie are flair players so they’ve got a good mix, Holland will be a team that goes far in this tournament.
So this Euro’s game between Germany and Holland will be the latest instalment in what is a big rivalry, what makes that rivalry so intense between the two footballing nations?
Firstly we are neighbours and secondly Germany beat them in 1974 and I don’t think Holland have forgotten that. The Dutch thought nobody had the right to beat them because they had Neeskens and Cruyff, the best players in the world and they thought they invented football at the time, that they were the best team to have played the game so far. When the German’s found a way to beat them in the final in Munich and lifted the World Cup that’s something that still hurts them. Apart from 1988 they didn’t win a major tournament (though they have been very close a few times) which is part of the reason for the rivalry.
Where do you believe the game will be won or lost between Germany and Holland, is one side more superior than the other in any areas?
No, I think that they are pretty evenly matched, as I said before I think part of the reason Holland did well in the World Cup is they’ve been hard to beat and very stubborn, De Jong and Van Bommel are one of the best partnerships in centre midfield. Whoever plays; Schweinsteiger and Khedira maybe Kroos, will need to compete against De Jong and Van Bommel because this is where the pace is dictated and where the battle is won or lost. It will be a lot of pressure and responsibility on the midfield partnership to compete against De Jong and Van Bommel.
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