The match between Netherlands and Germany on Wednesday promises to be the match to watch out for in this World Cup yet. Both former winners, the Pool D contest will undoubtedly be the clash of titans of the pool stages.
Netherlands and Germany entered the finals of the last two World Cups, eventually losing to Australia and would like to make amends at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar.
The world number four Netherlands announced their intentions in grand fashion when they hammered Malaysia, coached by Dutchman Roelant Oltmans, 7-0 with striker Jeroen Hertzberger scoring the lone hat-trick of this edition of the World Cup.
Malaysia are no minnows but the Max Caldas-coached outfit just brushed aside the Asians as if they were a team ranked 20 rungs below them.
The world number six Germans, on the other hand, have a history of coming together as a team and peaking later in tournaments. They may not have started with a bang, but their 1-0 win over four-time winners Pakistan was what they needed – three points in the kitty.
Take this for a fact. Such has been their record that Germany have never finished outside the top four in World Cups from 1973 Amstelveen to 2014 New Delhi. The only two times Germany did not finish in the top four was the first edition of the tournament (1971 Barcelona) and the last one (2014 The Hague).
But the Martin Haner-led outfit is looking to make amends, to prove a point especially against their European rivals come Wednesday.
Pakistan will be up against Malaysia in the other Pool D match on Wednesday.
Both Pakistan and Malaysia are aware that their only realistic chance of making it to the knockouts is against each other.
Both having already lost their openers to Europeans, the two Asian teams will be gunning for victory which will at least make them eligible for the crossover games if not directly for the quarter-finals.
“We are targeting a win against Pakistan. We are realistic about our chances at the World Cup. Our main aim is to qualify for the 2010 Tokyo Olympics,” said Oltmans, who was previously the coach of Pakistan before resigning in September.