Portugal vs. Netherlands: Biggest X-Factors in Group B Clash

Justin WeltonAnalyst IIJune 17, 2012

L'VIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 13:  Helder Postiga of Portugal celebrates scoring the second goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Denmark and Portugal at Arena Lviv on June 13, 2012 in L'viv, Ukraine.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

With every team in Group B having a chance to make the knockout stages, it sets up for a wonderful showcase on Sunday afternoon.

Portugal and Netherlands find themselves in different positions but the game still means everything. We know about the stars of both teams, but what about the x-factors? Here are three that will play important roles in this "Group of Death" showdown. 

Pepe 

L'VIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 13:  Pepe celebrates after Helder Postiga of Portugal scored the second goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Denmark and Portugal at Arena Lviv on June 13, 2012 in L'viv, Ukraine.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty I
Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Pepe has been up and down in the first two games for Portugal. He's allowed scoring opportunities and hasn't been as focused defensively, but he's played well in long stretches, including scoring a goal against Denmark.

Now he gets the wonderful test of facing Arjen Robben, Robin van Persie and the rest of the highly talented Dutch roster.

Pepe will need to be great if Portugal plans on making it to the knockout stages. We will hear his name peppered throughout the telecast, but Portugal fans are hoping its for the right reasons.

Helder Postiga

L'VIV, UKRAINE - JUNE 13:  Helder Postiga of Portugal scores the second goal during the UEFA EURO 2012 group B match between Denmark and Portugal at Arena Lviv on June 13, 2012 in L'viv, Ukraine.  (Photo by Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Martin Rose/Getty Images

With Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani on opposites sides of the pitch, there will be plenty of opportunities for striker Helder Postiga to score goals against a shaky Dutch defense.

Postiga is a true x-factor because he barely receives any publicity. And of course not, Ronaldo and Nani play beside him.

But you better believe that Postiga will play a major role in the outcome of Sunday's contest. Expect him to receive plenty of opportunities to shine bright on the big stage. 

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 24:  Klaas Jan Huntelaar of the Netherlands celebrates as he scores his side's second goal during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group E match between Cameroon and Netherlands at Green Point Stadium on June 24, 2010 in
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

Netherlands needs goals on a consistent basis. What they have been doing hasn't worked through two games, so it's time for a change.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar deserves an opportunity to start and play the majority of the game. Maybe he's the addition to the starting 11 that Netherlands needs.

He'll be going against an average Portugal defense. Huntelaar has talented wings to deliver the ball in perfect positions, he is a goal-scoring machine and he has been dangerous when given the opportunity to perform. 

Prediction

Portugal and Netherlands draw 1-1. Portugal hinges all its faith on the Germany-Denmark game.

Information needed to watch this game live on TV: 

When: June 17, 2012 at 2:45 p.m. ET

Where: Metalist Stadium, Ukraine 

Watch: ESPN