June 23, 2016 10:48:33 pm
If playing on a brand new soccer pitch requires any specific skills, Germany might have an advantage over Slovakia in Sunday’s last 16 match at the European Championship.
The Dutch company which is replacing the turf at Stade Pierre-Mauroy in Lille on Thursday provided Germany with an identical field at their pre-tournament training camp in Ascona, Switzerland, last month.
UEFA called in Hendriks Graszoden to install the new playing surface at Euro 2016’s most northern venue after the initial pitch was badly damaged because of non-soccer events before the tournament and unfavorable weather conditions.
The head of stadium grass at Hendriks Graszoden, Gerdien Vloet, told The Associated Press her company sent six trucks with turf and equipment to the French city.
“The whole operation should be finished by midnight,” Vloet said. “The pitch will be immediately ready for use.”
Germany and Slovakia were expected to train at the stadium on Saturday, a day before their match. The venue will also host a quarterfinal game next week.
The condition of the turf had also been harmed by frequent use of the roof. It was closed during Ireland’s 1-0 win over Italy on Wednesday night, causing a hot and humid atmosphere throughout the match.
“We have specialized in grass for stadiums with a roof since Ajax had problems after opening Amsterdam Arena in 1996,” Vloet said. “We developed grass that grows relatively well in the shadow. But basically no grass does well without enough sun, water and air.”
Coaches and players have also criticized other playing surfaces at the tournament, notably the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.
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