Picture yourself in Bert van Marwijk's shoes.
You've just watched your team lose 2-1 to Germany in your second game of the 2012 European Championship.
In order to advance to the knockout stage, you need your team to beat a Portugal team with all the momentum in the world following its heart-stopping 3-2 win over Denmark on Wednesday.
That doesn't seem too hard does it? There's more though. You need to beat the same Portugal team that just scored three goals against one of the more capable defenses in the group, and you need to do it by two or more goals to have the necessary goal differential to finish as the Group B runner-up.
Still doesn't seem hard? Well, on top of that, you need Denmark to lose to Germany. But that's the easiest part about this whole situation.
Yes, that's a bit confusing. For those still lagging behind, here's an explanation in layman's terms: If the Dutch notch a two-goal victory over Portugal and Denmark loses to Germany, van Marwijk and company will advance because they would be the only team of the three tied teams to have a goal differential of plus-one
A German victory is all but a foregone conclusion, barring unforeseen miracle-like circumstances.
The Netherlands don't have a huge shot at beating the Portuguese by a two-goal margin.
For one, Portugal looked on point in their match against Denmark,
Pepe was magnificent for Paulo Bento's side once again. His header in the 24th minute got the scoring going, and boy was it a thing of beauty. He flicked a perfect corner kick inside the near post right into the back of the net to give his team a 1-0 lead.
The Portuguese are getting production from their role players, but not from Cristiano Ronaldo. I have this sinking suspicion that he will turn his play up against the Netherlands with his team's collective back against the wall.
The Dutch are having some star power problems of their own so far in this tournament.
Robin van Persie was all but invisible for the first game, other than when he came up short on multiple golden opportunities against the Danes. It appeared that trend would continue as RVP headed into the locker room at the break without much to show for his efforts. He came back strong in the second half, though, and tallied the Netherlands' only goal of the tournament thus far.
Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder were sub-par again. The duo didn't show much prowess on the pitch, nor much promise of improvement. They are Van Persie's supporting cast, and if the two don't pick up their play—something they have shown no signs of doing—the Dutch are going to go back home hanging their heads in disappointment.
Ronaldo is slacking for the Portuguese, but he is getting picked up by his teammates. Van Persie wasn't brilliant other than his lone goal, and he's not receiving much help at all from his teammates.
Portugal's supporting cast is far superior to the Netherlands' supporting cast, that much is painfully obvious. The lack of star power in this tournament has been striking, and it's safe to say most would trust the lesser players of Portugal against the lesser players of Holland.
Holland still has a chance to advance past the knockout stage of the tournament, but it may be more of a mathematical chance than a realistic chance.
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