Holland face Portugal this evening needing a victory to progress into the quarter-finals of the European Championships.
They also need Germany to beat Denmark if they have any hope of progressing. It’s all a far cry from the Oranje being one of the favourites for tournament prior to the event kicking-off.
Portugal also need a victory to ensure they progress to the quarter-finals, although a draw could be enough if Germany beat Denmark.
Everything points to Holland heading home unexpectedly early. It would be a terrible end to the tournament for the Dutch and their star-studded squad.
When the tournament started it seemed unlikely that Holland would go home early but it seemed likely that they may have had to get a result against the Portuguese in the last match. Their opponents hold the upper-hand though, as they could get a draw and still progress but the Dutch can’t.
Holland manager Bert Van Marwijk has came in for some criticism in his country for playing with two defensive midfielders in the shape of Nigel de Jong and Mark Van Bommel. The cautious nature of his team selection has surely cost them so far in this tournament.
The Dutch have had some superb talent warming their bench at this tournament and had they been used more their results may have been different. The likes of Rafael Van der Vaart and Jan-Klaas Huntelaar have been criminally underused by the Dutch head coach.
Holland have to attack Portugal tonight and go for broke. They were the top scorers in qualifying and need to start to show that attacking prowess. Van Marwijk is likely to start with Van der Vaart and Huntelaar for the first time at this tournament.
Robin Van Persie looked woefully out-of-form against the Danes in the first game, despite having a fantastic season in the English top flight with Arsenal. However, he started to show what he could do against Germany firing home a superb effort to put the Dutch back in the game.
I can’t help thinking that Holland would have had more success concentrating on their own game instead of worrying about what Germany could do to them at the other end. When Holland needed a goal towards the end of the match they looked far more dangerous than when they were just trying to keep the Germans out.
The Dutch defence have been awful at Euro 2012. Maybe Van Marwijk was worried about his defence that’s why he felt the need to play Van Bommel and De Jong to protect them. Everton’s Player of the Year Johnny Heitinga was outstanding last season but he has looked woeful in the last two games for the Dutch.
He has been exposed a number of times and it’s cost the Dutch points. The other problem for Holland is young left-back Jetro Willems. The 18 year-old is the youngest player ever to appear at a European Championships and at times it’s showed.
The youngster had an absolute nightmare first half against Germany, as his inexperience was exposed again and again. I even heard calls for him to be taken off at half-time. The PSV star may be a good player in the future but at the moment he is not ready for such a big occasion.
I have to say this is typical of the Dutch at major tournaments. They usually arrive at major tournament with a squad of talented players and then find a way to underachieve. Usually its in-fighting in the camp.
This time though its the players just not performing to the best of their abilities. It would be a shame to see such talented players as Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Robin Van Persie head home early but that’s how it’s looking at moment.
Holland were one of my picks for the tournament and afraid to say that it looks like the Oranje won’t even make it past the group stage. If they don’t qualify for the quarter-finals they only have themselves to blame though.
Can Holland progress into the quarter-finals of Euro 2012?
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