Injury-depleted Netherlands, Germany draw 0-0
Injury-depleted Netherlands, Germany draw 0-0
Germany had the best of the first half and the Dutch were better after the break, but neither side could find the net to end the stalemate.
Marco Reus had a chance to steal the match in injury time but blasted his shot over the bar.
Germany was missing the Bayern Munich trio of Bastian Schweinsteiger, Toni Kroos and Jerome Boateng, Lazio striker Miroslav Klose, Real Madrid midfielder Mesut Oezil and Borussia Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer due to illness or injury.
Mario Gomez, who scored both German goals in his team’s 2-1 win against the Netherlands at the European Championship, was out with an ankle injury.
Robin van Persie, playmaker Wesley Sneijder and midfielder Kevin Strootman were missing for the Netherlands — and it showed.
When Germany fleetingly looked threatening, it was often through the Borussia Dortmund trio of Reus, Mario Goetze and Ilkay Guendogan.
Two Dortmund forward came closest to opening the scoring in an uninspired first half. First, Reus’ low shot grazed Kenneth Vermeer’s near post and then John Heitinga came to his team’s rescue on the stroke of halftime by clearing a shot from Guendogan off the line to maintain the deadlock.
Arjen Robben looked the only dangerous player in the makeshift Netherlands forward line in the first half, and he came closest to opening the Dutch account on the half hour when he rounded Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer after a one-two with Ibrahim Afellay but could not cut back his shot from a tight angle.
Second-half Dutch substitute Daryl Janmaat carved out the best chance of the match in the 77th minute when he played a one-two with Dirk Kuyt and fired a low shot that Neuer did well to save.
Netherlands coach Louis van Gaal opted to play Kuyt at center forward in the absence of Van Persie, leaving prolific Schalke 04 striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar on the bench.
The Netherlands was looking for a measure of revenge for its 2-1 loss to Germany at the European Championship, one of three straight group losses that helped ensure the 2010 World Cup runner-up was eliminated and prompted the resignation of former coach Bert van Marwijk.
Germany was hoping to end the year on a high and erase memories of its semifinal loss to Italy at Euro 2012 and its humiliating collapse against Sweden in its last World Cup qualifier, when it squandered a 4-0 lead in the final half hour in a 4-4 draw.
Saudi Arabia step up their World Cup preparations by flying to Switzerland for training camp
- Squad of 28 to be based in Zurich
- Friendlies on the horizon against Italy and Peru
Juan Antonio Pizzi has taken a 28-man squad to Zurich for the final stage of the Green Falcons’ World Cup preparations.
The party flew out of Jeddah late last night and landed in Switzerland early this morning. There they will be joined by Fahad Al-Muwallad and Salem Al-Dawsari who will fly in from Spain after playing for Levante and Villarreal on Saturday night.
The three-week training camp in the Swiss resort town of Bad Ragaz gives Pizzi the chance to get stuck into some intense tactical and physical work with his players and decide which five players to leave out of his squad. He must whittle down his list down to 23 by June 4, which gives the players get two final chances to stake their claim for a seat on the plane in friendlies against Italy on May 28 and Peru on June 3. By the time they play Germany in Leverkusen on June 8, Pizzi will have named his party for the assignment in Russia.
Pizzi is clearly much nearer knowing who he will take as he has only made minor changes to the squad he named for the recent wins against Greece and Algeria.
Al-Ittihad goalkeeper Assaf Al-Qarni replaces his club teammate Fawaz Al-Qarni as the fourth stopper in the squad, as Pizzi looks settled on retaining Al-Ahli duo Yasser Al-Mosaileem and Mohammed Al-Owais in addition to Al-Hilal’s Abdullah Al-Mayouf. One of those four will fail to make the cut as no team takes four goalkeepers to the World Cup.
There were no changes in the backline where the former Chile boss is opting for harmony. Eight of the nine defenders called up ply their trade at Al-Hilal or Al-Ahli, while Al-Nassr’s Omar Hawsawi rounds off the selection. One defender might have to make way and Al-Hilal teammates Mohammad Jahfali and Ali Al-Bulayhi could well find themselves vying for one spot on the plane to Moscow.
Abdullah Otayf and Taisir Al-Jassim look to be firm favorites to make the starting XI in the base of midfield, while the third central spot is up for grabs. Hussein Al-Moqahwi has regularly featured in that position, but Salman Al-Faraj’s return from a long injury saw him start both friendlies in the Spain training camp. Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari could emerge as the more conservative midfield enforcer against stronger sides.
The center of the pitch is where the most intense battle of positions will take place. As many as three midfielders could be left behind come June 4. Ibrahim Ghaleb has already been left out and he may be joined by Al-Shabab duo Hattan Bahebri and Abdulla Al-Khaibari. One of Mohammad Kanno and Mohammed Al Kuwaikbi could be the last man to be dropped in two weeks’ time.
Up front, Harun Kamara, a surprise call-up for the recent friendlies, failed to retain his spot in the squad so Mohannad Assiri and Mohammed Al-Sahlawi will battle it out for the sole striker position.
Goalkeepers: Mohammed Al-Owais, Yasser Al-Mosaileem (Al-Ahli); Abdullah Al-Mayouf (Al-Hilal); Assaf Al-Qarni (Al-Ittihad)
Defenders: Motaz Hawsawi, Saeed Al-Muwallad, Mansour Al-Harbi (Al-Ahli); Osama Hawsawi, Mohammed Jahfali, Ali Al-Bulayhi, Mohammed Al-Burayk, Yasser Al-Shahrani (Al-Hilal); Omar Hawsawi (Al-Nassr).
Midfielders: Abdullah Al-Khaibari, Hattan Bahebri (Al-Shabab); Abdulmalik Al-Khaibari, Abdulla Otayf, Salman Al-Faraj, Mohammed Kanno, Nawaf Al-Abid (Al-Hilal); Taisir Al-Jassim, Hussein Al-Moqahwi (Al-Ahli); Mohammed Al-Kuwaikbi (Al-Ettifaq); Salem Al-Dawsari (Villarreal); Fahad Al-Muwallad (Levante); Yahya Al-Shehri (Leganes)
Forwards: Mohammed Al-Sahlawi (Al-Nassr); Mohannad Assiri (Al-Ahli)