Less than a week before the posting of this piece, many analysts and fans located around the world were claiming that the Netherlands were real contenders to win Euro 2012. Now, after losses to both Denmark and Germany, some are wondering if Holland will be bounced out of the tournament without having earned a single point. When looking at the Dutch through unbiased eyes, I see no reason why anybody should expect this particular team to get the job done against Portugal on Sunday (2:45 pm ET kickoff). I often say that football is a funny, funny game, and it would indeed be cause for at least a bit of a laugh if Holland somehow survived into the next round of the competition.
Well, I can at least dream.
3 thoughts heading into Holland vs. Portugal: Heads and hearts
Dirk Kuyt told reporters following the team's 2-1 loss to Germany that Holland "lost their spirit" once Mario Gomez opened the scoring thanks to a combination of a world class finish and some bottom class defending. Rafael Van der Vaart is publicly complaining about not being in the team's Starting XI. Arjen Robben was visibly throwing a tantrum on the sideline upon being subbed off late in Wednesday night's match. More than ever before, it's time for coach Bert van Marwijk to hand his squad a verbal butt-kicking heading into this weekend.
I'm tired of reading and hearing about the "group of death," so much so that I want the phrase to go away completely. One need only look at the talent in the Holland team for a few seconds to realize that there is no way the Dutch shouldn't have earned at least one point in two games. Simply stated, Holland haven't looked like anything resembling a team for all but about 25 minutes of this tournament, and it's a big reason why they're 90 minutes from being bounced out of Euro 2012.
3 thoughts heading into Holland vs. Portugal: Can it be fixed?
Holland were advertised as being suspect at the back even before losing two starting center backs during their Euro 2012 warmup contests. Their back line has managed to be even worse than I feared, committing nearly every mistake one could imagine. A lazy offside trap that actually keeps attackers onside? Check. Ball-watching instead of keeping at least one eye on a world class striker? Check. Turnovers in the defensive third? You betcha. Cristiano Ronaldo has thus far been less than impressive during his first two games of the European Championship. Well, if he is going to break out of his funk anytime soon, it's probably going to happen this coming Sunday.
3 thoughts heading into Holland vs. Portugal: Play to win
The Netherlands literally have nothing to lose on Sunday. Worst case scenario is that Holland will lose and fail to make it out of the Group B, which could happen even if they actually manage to (dare I dream?) defeat Portugal. Some have suggested that Van Marwijk should make changes to the team's Starting XI on Sunday. To that, I say "why not?" Go ahead and start Van der Vaart over Mark Van Bommel, and also play Klaas-Jan Huntelaar up top along with Robin van Persie. The Dutch will need multiple goals and also some help in order to continue playing in Euro 2012.
Play to win, guys, and at the very least give your fans some entertaining football to watch in the process.