After watching the performance by the Netherlands during their 3-0 victory over the Italians on Monday night, it would be understandable if some had believed they had just watched the team who would go on to become European champions.
Many also thought they were watching future world champions when Argentina romped to a 6-0 win over Serbia in their second group match of the 2006 World Cup. However, these thoughts turned out to be premature as the Argentines went down to JÃ¼rgen Klinsmann’s Germany in the quarter finals on penalties.
Current German boss Joachim LÃ¶w was quick to denounce any talk that the Dutch performance made them the â€œmeasuring rodâ€ of the tournament so far. Instead, according the official Germany website, LÃ¶w wants to remain focused on his next opponents Croatia. â€œCroatia are great tacticians while they also have great individuals who can beat you one-on-one. They know how to control the pace of a gameâ€, he said at a press conference on Tuesday.
Referring to talent such as Niko Kranjcar and Tottenham new-boy Luka Modric, the German boss clearly feels the Croatians can cause problems despite only narrowly defeating Austria 1-0 in their opening match. Granted, the Croats do have a very talented midfield but after dominating the first half hour of the match against Austria, they failed to add to their lead and looked vulnerable to conceding at times. With Arsenal striker Eduardo missing through injury, the responsibility is on Petric and Olic to get the goals. The two looked impressive in the opening stages of the first half on Sunday, but like the rest of the side they drifted out of the match afterwards.
Some have tipped Croatia to be the â€˜dark horsesâ€™ of the tournament and expect them to prove a tough challenge for the Germans tomorrow night in Klagenfurt. However, if they play in a similar way as their opening match, Croatia may well find themselves on the end of result not too dissimilar to that of the Netherlands on Tuesday.