AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Wednesday’s friendly match between heavyweights Netherlands and Germany in Amsterdam risks running out of strikers and flair after a growing injury list has ruled out big names on either team.
The hosts, who lost to Germany in a friendly 3-0 last year and were again beaten by their eastern neighbours 2-1 in the Euro 2012 group stage, will be lacking the firepower of forward Robin van Persie and the creativity of playmaker Wesley Sneijder.
Their opponents are missing nine players including Bastian Schweinsteiger, Mesut Ozil and top scorer Miroslav Klose.
While it is a friendly game, any encounter between the bitter footballing rivals is all but a dull affair with both sides desperate for victory and tempers often flaring on the pitch.
The two sides form one of the world’s biggest rivalries and they have met on every level of international competition including the 1974 World Cup final
“Obviously it is not ideal when there are such problems,” said Germany team manager Oliver Bierhoff in Amsterdam on Monday.
“But this match is an important test and an opportunity for coaches to check out players. Despite all the absences this game can still be played well.”
Van Persie played for the full 90 minutes in United’s 3-2 win at Aston Villa on Saturday, setting up Javier Hernandez’s 87th minute winner with an inswinging free-kick but pulled out on Monday with a thigh complaint.
The scorer of 31 goals in 71 internationals is likely to be replaced by Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has himself scored 34 goals in 59 matches for the Dutch.
Dutch coach Louis van Gaal will also be without Sneijder, still recovering from a thigh injury. He has not played for Inter Milan since the end of September.
Van Gaal, however, can at least draw on the form of VfL Wolfsburg’s Bas Dost in attack, who after a rocky start to his first Bundesliga season has scored four goals.
Germany coach Joachim Loew has a similar headache after Real Madrid playmaker Ozil, and Germany’s top scorer - and only forward in this squad - Miroslav Klose pulling out injured and ill respectively on Monday.
Loew has a total of nine absences, including defenders Marcel Schmelzer, Jerome Boateng and Holger Badstuber, forcing him to rejig his squad.
He called up several youngsters on Sunday and Monday with Sven Bender, rookie Sebastian Jung and Lewis Holtby joining the group.
The game was supposed to be the last opportunity this year to make German fans forget their 4-4 World Cup qualifying draw against Sweden in Berlin last month, after leading 4-0.
Loew himself has been under mounting scrutiny since his team fell to Italy in the Euro 2012 semi-finals, prompting criticism he was not tough enough with his players.
Writing and additional reporting by Karolos Grohmann in Berlin, editing by Alan Baldwin