Holland face Portugal on Sunday, at Kharkiv, in what will be their last game in Group B and one or both teams could bid goodbye to the competition depending on the result of the Group B game between Germany and Denmark.
If Germany were to win that game, Holland could still qualify by beating Portugal by a large enough margin to trump both Denmark and Portugal in a triangular comparison. On the other hand, a Portugal win on Sunday, would mean a certain exit for Holland as the FIFA World Cup 2010 runners up would then have lost all three group games. So to optimize their chances of qualification from the group, the Dutch would need to win big, as they would first have to take care of the goal difference which is negative as of now.
Holland have been the worst affected in the Group of Death and they haven’t been helped by discontent among senior players such as Van der Vaart and Huntelaar for not being considered for the starting eleven in either of their two pervious games against Denmark and Germany.
For Holland, Van Persie’s return to scoring ways against Germany was one of the few bright spots in what has been a dismal tournament for Van Marwijk’s wards so far. their defensive frailties are also likely to keep the Dutch tentative against a rampaging Portuguese forward line that scored thrice against the Danes.
Depending on how the Germany-Denmark goes, even a loss to the Dutch could see Portugal qualifying past the group stage. However, if they were to fail to qualify Paulo Bento’s wards could be left ruing the easy scoring chances squandered by skipper Cristiano Ronaldo against the Danes. Also, after they were 2-0 up, the Portuguese allowed the Danes back into the game, with some defensive errors, and were eventually lucky to escape with a 3-2 win.
The Portuguese defence appears particularly vulnerable against crosses, as proved by both Germany’s Mario Gomez and Denmark’s Bendtner, who scored headers from balls crossed into the Portuguese box; the Dutch would be keen to exploit that frailty. In the previous two games, Pepe was often the last man standing in the Portuguese central defence, with Bruno Alves conspicuous by his absence when it counted.
if Holland have to register a win against Portugal, Van Persie has to hit top gear. Arsenal’s Golden Boot winner of the English Premier League had a brilliant strike against Germany after a profligate showing against the Danes, in his side’s opening game of the group.
For portugal, Cristiano Ronaldo will be key, against a porous Dutch defence that shipped two goals against the Germans.
Holland’s probable eleven: Stekeleburg, Van der Weil, Heitinga, Vlaar, Willems, Van Bommel, De Jong, Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie, Van der Vaart
Portugal’s probable eleven: Patricio, Pereira, Alves, Pepe, Centrao, Veloso, Meireles, Moutinho, Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo.
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Jinxatious is the Chief Editor of SportingAttitude.com
An avid writer, on an eclectic range of subjects, he brings to bear editorial experience garnered with a national newspaper in South-East Asia. He also has sportscasting experience, as a cricket commentator, and his passion for sport extends beyond Cricket, to Football, Tennis, and Olympic Sports.