The Orange Men failed to fill the sold-out Wagener Stadium on Saturday to gain extra confidence against world champion Germany. The team of coach Jeroen Delmée created a lot of opportunities against the eastern neighbors, but ultimately came no further than a 1-1 draw. The Netherlands also lacked the required killer mentality in the necessary shoot-outs, so that the bonus point in this Pro League game went to Germany.
The Dutch game against Germany was a good indicator in advance in the run-up to the European Championship, which will be held in Mönchengladbach from 18 to 27 August. The Dutch compete there together with other top countries such as Belgium, England, Germany and Spain for the European cup and an Olympic ticket that is only available for the winner. That ticket is the real grand prize. Having the certainty in August that you can play at Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir in Paris a year later gives you peace of mind and prevents mandatory participation in the nerve-racking Olympic qualifiers .
It is interesting in this Pro League series to see how the various contenders are doing a few weeks before the European Championship. The mutual duels are therefore extra fascinating. Although the real balance of power will remain safely hidden for the time being behind the strongly changing selections with which the teams – whether or not forced – take office. Compared to the world championship in India in January, the Netherlands lacked pillars such as Seve van Ass, Jorrit Croon, Teun Beins and Tijmen Reyenga on Saturday. In Germany, superstars Christopher Rühr and Mats Grambusch, among others, were given a rest.
However, the absence of fixed values also gives other players the opportunity to put themselves in the spotlight for the European Championship. That tournament is the last real title tournament in the run-up to the European Championship. A good time to hand over a business card for Paris to the national coach.
Maurits Visser, the goalkeeper of Bloemendaal, is therefore in pole position to be the first goalie at the European Championship. The fact that he was in goal against Germany on Saturday had nothing to do with that. That was, Delmée said in the run-up to the Wagener block in this Pro League series, already agreed in advance.
Visser got few balls on or around his goal in the opening phase of Orange’s thirteenth Pro League game. The Orange was the better team before the break, although it did not get further than a few teases. Until just before the break Tjep Hoedemakers, after a nice pass from Jonas de Geus, hit his backhand just before. That ball should have been a warning for the Germans, but they still faced a 1-0 deficit a minute later due to a goal from Thijs van Dam. His ticker was preceded by a nice attack, with the assist coming from Hoedemakers.
Van Dam also had the 2-0 on his stick at the start of the second quarter. After a wonderful counter, the ball came via Van Heijningen and De Vilder to the fully sprinting Van Dam. He opted for a lift in the one-on-one duel with Jean-Paul Dannenberg – Germany’s hero in the shoot-outs won in the final against Germany. The German goalie hit the ball just enough with his stick to avoid a hit.
A few minutes later, Dannenberg was too late with his stick after a wonderful backhand from Brinkman, but his left post made the save. It seemed to be waiting for a second Dutch goal, but the Germans closed their defense well enough and made it to the break without further damage.
One two police
Shortly after the break, Germany had its best phase. After a foul by Niklas Wellen, that also resulted in a penalty corner. Our eastern neighbors have had Gonzalo Peillat for this for several years now. The born Argentinian is well past thirty, but again put the ball hard against the board: 1-1.
The sounds of the eins, zwei, Polizei had barely died down when the Netherlands attacked again towards the German goal. Delmée’s team did this carefully and with dedication. The offensive resulted in good opportunities, for example for Koen Bijen who had the ball twice before hitting the ball but was unlucky in the completion. Floris Wortelboer also had a free shooting chance after a nice action. His backhand was saved by Danenberg.
That save was clever, as the young goalie also acted in the future at a number of half and full Orange chances. But if the Orange really wants to qualify for the title and the Olympic ticket during the European Championship, it must be more decisive in front of the goal.
By the way, missing opportunities can happen to the best. Two minutes before the end, Justus Weigand only had to tap the ball into the empty goal. However, that also turned out to be too difficult for a world champion.
In the shoot-outs, Dannenberg was again the German hero. Only Thierry Brinkman scored for the Netherlands, which therefore only had one point left over from the game. On Monday, the Orange will have a second chance against Germany, after it first has to deal with New Zealand on Sunday.