Saturday, July 21, 2018

Euro 2012: Van Marwijk to change starting XI for Portugal match

Oranje boss Bert van Marwijk has revealed that he will change his starting XI for Sunday’s deciding group match against Portugal.

“Normally we have a lot of creativity and we are fast at the front, but against Denmark and Germany it was not there,” he told KNVB’s official website.

“But this happens in football. We lost two games, so I have to change my squad for match against Portugal.”

Perhaps Van Marwijk himself is to blame for this lack of “creativity”. How creative and ambitious can you be if you deploy two defensive-minded midfielders, Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong.

Thus, Van Marwijk will surely sacrifice either the Manchester City man or the veteran skipper.

Of the two, I fancy Van Bommel to keep his place, while De Jong will probably be replaced by Tottenham Hotspur standout Rafael van der Vaart.

Furthermore, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar may also be in Van Marwijk’s plans for the Portugal clash.

Huntelaar is coming off an absolutely sensational 2011-12 campaign with Schalke 04. The man known by some as ‘The Hunter’ bagged 47 goals and 11 assists in 54 appearances (53 starts) for club and country last season. In short, he’s been on scintillating form for awhile.

However, Van Marwijk has resisted the temptation to play the former Real Madrid striker alongside Robin van Persie.

That may change on Sunday against Portugal, especially since the Dutch must win by at least two goals to have a chance to reach the knockout stages of Euro 2012.

They’ll need all the goals they can get, and Huntelaar can certainly give them goals.

With that said, Holland must be wary of Portugal’s threat on the counter, specifically down the left-flank through Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo will be eyeing a bounce-back performance after a disappointing shift against Denmark. Expect the Portuguese to play well on Sunday.

In addition, Nani must turn in a good shift if Paulo Bento’s side are to grind out a result against Holland.

The Manchester United winger will be looking to take advantage of 18-year-old left back Jetro Willems of Dutch Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven.

All things considered, Portugal’s key players against Holland will be their prolific wide-men.

Can they cut apart the Oranje defence on the counter-attack? Very much so, but it’s easier said than done.

The fact that Holland need to win by at least two goals will loom large on Sunday. Portugal are historically very strong at the back when they decide to defend for their lives.

As a result, Holland may very well likely leave acres of space in between their midfielders and defenders. Look for Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Helder Postiga to exploit this space and catch the Dutch on the break.


Shawn Etemadi



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