Holland and Germany going Dutch
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands ● Captain Philipp Lahm has said Germany’s drab goalless draw with Holland had exorcised a few defensive demons following last month’s shock 4-4 draw with Sweden.
While there was little to light up Wednesday’s dull friendly at Amsterdam Arena between two make-shift sides ravaged by injuries and withdrawals, Lahm said keeping Holland scoreless was important for his beleaguered defence.
Germany were left shell-shocked having thrown away a four-goal lead to draw 4-4 against Sweden in last month’s World Cup qualifier when the hosts leaked four goals in the last 30 minutes in Berlin.
“Both teams played well, there was plenty of ball possession on both sides, but not many chances were allowed,” said Lahm.
“That was very, very positive after we drew 4-4 in our last game.
“We didn’t want to concede any goals and we did that, so a draw is a fair result.”
Both Holland coach Louis van Gaal and Germany trainer Joachim Loew used the game to field experimental teams.
Van Gaal opted to give Ajax goalkeeper Kenneth Vermeer his debut while Fenerbahce striker Dirk Kuyt captained the Netherlands.
The Germany-based trio of Arjen Robben, Rafael van der Vaart and Ibrahim Afellay led a strong forward line, with Schalke 04 striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar left on the bench while both Robin van Persie and Wesley Sneijder were injured.
“Huntelaar didn’t play because we wanted to look at our options up front,” explained Van Gaal.
“The conversation was difficult when I told him, but it will remain between us what was said.”
The Dutch had their chances with Robben wasting a clear first-half chance, while only a good save from Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer denied Eljero Elia’s fierce drive to the bottom left-hand corner.
But the hosts failed in their bid for a first win over the Germans since November 2002.
“The Germans were dominant in the first half, but we managed to get back control of the game after the break,” said Van Gaal.
“We had just as many chances as them in the second half.
“We didn’t always have the ball under control in the first half and there were a few mistakes.”
Having had eight key players either suffering from illness or injury, Loew opted to try Mario Goetze, 20, as a striker leading a youthful attack ahead of Thomas Mueller, Lewis Holtby and Marco Reus, the eldest at 23.
“For me, this game was positive,” said Loew.
“We had a changed team, with many regulars missing, but we kept our shape and discipline, that was important after the last game against Sweden.
“In the first-half, we had the courage to play forward.
“It was more balanced after the break, but it was important that we didn’t give Holland many chances.”
Germany defender Mats Hummels said the score had reflected the reluctance on both sides to take risks.
“We regained the confidence and security we lost after the Sweden game,” said the Dortmund centre-back.
“You could see that the willingness to take risks was missing from both teams.
“Because there were not going to be many goals in this game, no one wanted to make the first mistake, so we were left with a game which wasn’t so spectacular for the spectators.”