Netherlands vs. Denmark: 5 Reasons Why the Dutch Can Still Advance at Euro 2012
The 2012 European Championship has taken over the mantle of exciting sports and football fans around the world from where club and league football had left it less than a month ago. It has been barely two days since kickoff, and already there have been results that make football the beautiful game.
Netherlands lost 0-1 to Denmark yesterday in what has been the upset of the tournament so far. Denmark is a strong team itself, but in the group of death that also includes 2004 finalists Portugal and 2008 finalists Germany, the Danes were favorites to go out. After failing to register any points from the first fixture, the Dutch, or Oranje, as they are often called, are in danger of being ousted from this "Group of Death."
Though there are some silver linings amidst the clouds for Bert Van Marwijk, the manager of Netherlands. Let us scrutinize those silver linings and analyze as to why the Dutch are far from being finished at this year's Euro.
Other Results in Group B
In tournaments at the world stage, where there are only three group games, teams often find it hard to qualify for the next stages if they don't pick up maximum points in the first game. To add to the Dutch's woes, they are in the "Group of Death" and have been beaten by the weakest team in the group.
What Van Marwijk's men can take heart from is that Portugal too was beaten by Germany. This means that Netherlands are not the only team with zero points. Had Portugal's match ended in a draw, Portugal would still have a good advantage over the Oranje. Now, the advantage, which is in the degree of opposition played, is comparably lesser. This will allow Van Marwijk to target Portugal, assuming that Germany will go through and Denmark will be beaten by the rest.
Style of the Oranje
The Dutch were very unlucky to not even take a single point from their opening group game. They huffed and puffed but couldn't put the ball in the back of the net even once. They did dominate the match, though.
Even Germany did not dominate the other match in the group. The Germans found it hard to get going and scored in the second half, in which they were second best in terms of possession of the ball. Van Marwijk's men will play good, easy-on-the-eye football. They just have to find a way to be more ruthless in front of goal.
The Dutch were the highest scorers in the qualifying campaign with 37 goals. They had more goals than France and Italy combined, and there is no reason to suggest that they will not score plenty in the remaining two games. The Germans and Portuguese should be wary of a wounded side.
Limitations of Portugal
The Portuguese are very limited in this year's championship. Their outlook in the first game is a demonstrative testament to that. The Germans were not playing out-of-the-world stuff and were having an ordinary day. If Portugal wished to, they could have capitalized on the situation and targeted a victory themselves.
The fact of the matter is far from it, though. People might say that Portugal played the anti-football brand that Chelsea used to win the Champions League with earlier this year. I agree to some extent, but there are significant differences, and so there will be variation in results also.
Chelsea had a very good team that played anti-football. Portugal has a very ordinary team that is resigned to playing anti-football to get to the next stage. This would not have been said of past Portuguese sides that were filled with flair and artistic players. The only one left is Cristiano Ronaldo. He has the unenviable task of carrying his side single-handedly. He will soon realize that in international football, the possibility is even less than that in club football.
RVP Is Due
It is a little naive to say that after failing to score in one game, someone is said to be due a performance. To be frank, there isn't much opportunity or scope for misfiring in a tournament on the world stage, even when you are a striker.
Robin Van Persie himself will concede that he is due a performance for his national team. He has scored only once (against Bulgaria in a friendly) in seven games for the Dutch since the qualifier on September 2, 2011 when he scored four against San Marino.
With 28 goals in 66 appearances for the Oranje, RVP is definitely due a couple in the next two group matches. His form with Arsenal was terrific last season, and he is destined to emulate that if Netherlands will have any chance of going through to the quarterfinals.
The Fixture List and the Schedule
Not much emphasis is laid on the sequence of fixtures. However, when teams have to look for each last straw to clutch upon to better their chances of achieving success, it may be one of the aspects looked upon.
The Dutch have their next game against the Germans, while Portugal face Denmark. The fact that Portugal will play its match before Germany faces off against the Netherlands gives options to Bert Van Marwijk. He will certainly be hoping that Portugal get something from that game, as if Denmark win, the Dutch may be going out soon.
If Portugal get only a point against Denmark, Van Marwijk can gamble and go all out for a win against Germany as a win in the last game against Portugal will be required anyway. However, if Portugal get a win and all three points against Denmark, Van Marwijk will probably look for a draw against Germany, hoping to do to the Germans what the Danes have done to his team.
The last day of this group will then be massive for both Portugal and the Netherlands. Whatever be the turn of events, this "Group of Death" will certainly live up to its billing and the excitement that it promised before the tournament's start.
For the time being, though, the Oranje are still in it. Lightning does not strike twice at the same place, and I don't expect Denmark to beat Portugal. Denmark vs. Portugal might actually be one you will have to endure. It may not be exciting.