Glum mood, long odds weigh on Dutch at Euro 2012
The Netherlands is ready to gamble that it can beat Portugal by
two goals and keep Cristiano Ronaldo quiet in the teams’ last group
match at the European Championship on Sunday.
Needing a German victory over Denmark to have even a glimmer of
hope of advancing, Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk says on the eve of
the decisive Group B match that caution has little use at this
With his team needing to win by at least a two-goal margin, Van
Marwijk said: ”Our way of playing will be totally based on
Van Marwijk is expected to pair top strikers Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
and Robin van Persie after losing the first two games of the
tournament to Denmark and Germany starting with a single striker.
At the same time, he must find a way to keep Portugal’s forwards at
As the Dutch coach readily acknowledged: ”We are clutching at
our last straw.”
”A draw should be enough for them,” he said. ”And they have
Ronaldo and Nani – and nine other players.”
A group stage exit would be the worst result in over a decade
for the Dutch since they failed to reach the 2002 World Cup
What makes that prospect worse are the high hopes they had
before the tournament. Two years after losing the World Cup final
in extra time to Spain, the Dutch felt they were ready to reap the
rewards of having stars like Van Persie, Arjen Robben and Wesley
Sneijder all coming into Euro 2012 unburdened by injury.
By Saturday, though, the mood was almost as dark as the black
jerseys they will wear Sunday.
And even the statistics don’t look good. In all, the Netherlands
has defeated Portugal just once in their past 10 meetings, way back
in 1991. And that was only 1-0.