With Bert van Marwijk planning changes for Sunday's game with Portugal, Berend Scholten looks ahead to what may be the Netherlands' last stand at UEFA EURO 2012.
On Friday, Van Marwijk told me that the 1-0 defeat by Denmark in their
opening match had shown him that his team had lost some of the
invincible optimism that took them all the way to the FIFA World Cup
final in South Africa two years ago. He also said that his side need to
play a less stretched game, keep their defensive and attacking lines
closer together, and that he might have to make tactical – and
personnel – changes to tidy things up.
At Saturday's pre-match
press conference, those thoughts were still on the coach's mind, though
he did not go into detail on exactly what he was considering. "We know
what we have to do," he explained. "In my battle plan, I have factored
in that we need to book a 2-0 win."
The change most people
anticipate is that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will be deployed as a central
striker instead of Robin van Persie, who could either replace Ibrahim
Afellay on the left wing or be used as a No10, with Wesley Sneijder then
moved out to the flank. Sneijder might even be shunted one line back at
the expense of one of the holding midfielders, Nigel de Jong or Mark
Everyone in the Dutch squad realises that their chance
of progressing is not particularly great statistically, yet it is
there, and that can be the only focus for this match. Get to the next
stage – that is all that matters.