Gelsenkirchen (Germany): Germany will seek to end a memorable year in style when they face their old Dutch rivals in a friendly international on Wednesday. The two neighbours have fought many classic battles over the years, most notably the 1974 World Cup final, in which Franz Beckenbauer led the erstwhile West Germany to a 2-1 victory over a brilliant Dutch side featuring Johann Cruyff.
Germany coach Rudi Voeller was involved in another famous 2-1 win, in a second-round match at the 1990 World Cup in Italy, during which Frank Rijkaard spat at him.
“The Netherlands have a world-class team with strong individuals,” the former World Cup striker said before Wednesday’s game in Gelsenkirchen, home to German Cup holders Schalke 04. “We face a difficult test, but an exciting one.”
The Dutch won the last encounter, beating the Germans 2-1 in February 2000, but have been through hard times lately, failing to qualify for this year’s World Cup finals. Germany struggled to do that but once they reached South Korea and Japan, they found their form and advanced to the Yokohama final, which they lost 2-0 to Brazil.
Voeller’s men have failed to impress since but have done enough to top their Euro 2004 qualifying group and now want to silence critics with a strong show in their last outing of the year.
“We would obviously like to finish a great year with a good performance,” said Voeller. “Since the World Cup we have done our duty by picking up six points in qualification for Euro 2004.”
The Germany coach will have to make do without several valued players, notably Liverpool midfielder Dietmar Hamann and Tottenham Hotspur wing back Christian Ziege, both injured.
The Netherlands have started their Euro 2004 campaign in promising fashion and coach Dick Advocaat viewed Wednesday’s match as an interesting test. “It will be a good measure of our strength against the number two side in the world,” he said.