Make or break time for Holland
Heat on Dutch but Van Marwijk backs side to sink Germans
HOLLAND coach Bert van Marwijk shrugged off the pressure as his side faces a date with destiny in Kharkiv tonight.
Anything but a win over neighbours and rivals Germany would realistically end their participation in Euro 2012.
The media back home have been critical of the former Feyenoord and Borussia Dortmund coach, claiming he has lost the faith of the dressing room and is employing the wrong tactics, and the wrong players.
He was involved in a heated exchange with one Dutch television journalist at the pre-match press conference yesterday, prompting UEFA's media officer to intervene and say it was "not an interview" and requesting other journalists put questions to the coach.
Van Marwijk, undeterred, requested that the exchange be allowed to continue by inviting one more question from the reporter.
"This is part of the job," he said. "I don't feel the pressure too much."
But he will have more sterner questions to field should Holland indeed fail to beat a well-drilled, disciplined Germany in a make-or-break Group B fixture.
"I don't know what the atmosphere is like back in Holland because we are here in Ukraine," said Van Marwijk abruptly.
"Of course there is tension here, but positive tension -- we are looking forward to the game."
"Of course things are tense when we lose and we get irritated at times, us too, but that is where we are going to have to draw our motivation from.
"I believe in my players, of course I do."
Germany coach Joachim Low is under no illusions about the strength of the 2010 World Cup runners-up as he fears a backlash tonight.
Victory would take his side into the last eight and render their final group fixture against Denmark cosmetic, but he is not jumping to any conclusions, even if Germany crushed Holland 3-0 last time they met in a friendly match in November.
"Of course we are going to be put under pressure," he said. "Our defence will be put to the test and it will be important that we win our tackles.
"We are going to have to be armed and ready for what they throw at us."
One of the most dangerous Dutch weapons is Arjen Robben, a Bayern Munich team-mate of no fewer than eight members of Low's starting XI.
One of those is goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, who Bastian Schweinsteiger would have his money on were the Dutch to earn a penalty, and Robben step up to the crease.
"Of course I have had contact with him, I am often writing to Arjen," revealed Schweinsteiger.
"I don't know if he would take a penalty, but we have a very good goalkeeper who would save it anyway."
Robben's team-mate Wesley Sneijder says he does not know "what is going through Arjen's mind" in terms of an eventual penalty dilemma, but he says the whole team are working for each other, and the coach.
"We are as confident as the coach is," he said. "We love the pressure. It doesn't matter if we are playing Germany or any other big nation, there is a lot riding on this."