Euro 2012: Loew ready to gamble on youth
Germany 1 Portugal 0
For the Germans the opportunity is clear: to eliminate not only a traditional footballing enemy, but also one of their few rivals for the European title. The Dutch will be under tremendous pressure in Kharkiv on Wednesday and the Germans will want to take advantage.
To do so, Joachim Loew may call on the bright young generation he kept in reserve against Portugal.
The Germany coach felt his side looked a little jaded as Portugal put them under pressure late in the game. "We lacked a tempo in the final phase of the game," he said. "We were well organised defensively, but we need to improve in certain areas."
The intensity of the schedule could prompt him to rotate in his next game, using one of Andre Schurrle, Marco Reus or Mario Gotze to refresh his attack. Lukas Podolski, who struggled to make an impression against Portugal, would be favourite to make way.
Certainly there was a sense that the Germans were a bit flat in Lviv. Sami Khedira, one of Germany's better performers, said that it "was a game with a lot of hard running and, by the end, we had lost some of our strength." But for Manuel Neuer's late save from Silvestre Varela they would have only come away with a draw.
So, Wednesday night could bring a start for the impressive Schurrle, the 21-year-old Bayer Leverkusen forward who has scored seven goals in 14 games for his country. He probably just has the edge on Reus (23) and Gotze (20) as back-up up front.
Mats Hummels was selected at centre-back ahead of Per Mertesacker against Portugal and justified his place with a man of the match display. Loew's other big call was Mario Gomez ahead of Miroslav Klose. Here the Germany manager faces a tricky decision: having scored the winning goal, Gomez has made himself hard to drop.
Gomez, not always the most popular player in a Germany shirt, was effusive in his praise of Loew. "It has been a long road getting here," he said. "I'm so pleased that the coach showed such trust in me." He probably did enough to keep that trust for another game. (© Daily Telegraph, London)