Reasonably-performing last 20-minute substitute Huntelaar couldn’t score from a beautiful flick from Sneijder, there was a controversial missed penalty opportunity and the Dutch dominated possession. Yet Holland went 1-0 down thanks to an out-of-nowhere Krohn-Dehli Danish goal. This royal roasting of a defeat in the pool stages at this year’s Euros is critical in examining Holland’s future.
Khohn-Dehli who had scored four times in his last six international games prior to the match faced a three-man strong defence in the 24 th minute and netted quite passively lowering Dutch hopes which laid the foundations for the rest of the tournament. It was not just the NED DEN palindrome that was backwards, but the scoreline too.
Unawares, Van Bommel kept pushing forwards on the left, opening up threatening space for the Danes which excluded Van Persie from play. True, clever Robben was frequently assisting forward movement down the right hand touchline after often having being fed through by Van der Wiel, yet even he was greedily hogging his own territory.
Van der Vaart was unresponsive and someone ought to have really shook him shouting ‘Wakey wakey Rafael’. Affelay had a season of problems and honestly contributed very little to the proceedings. It was the high Kharkiv humidity that energy-sapped the ‘shagged’ Dutch who were hitting and hoping playing an airball tournament as opposed to well-choreographed international football.
It could not help make me think of one of Holland’s ghosts; the 2010 World Cup Final against Spain, another ‘all-for-one, not one for all’ game with an unfathomable shoddy work ethic and horrific tackling. The so regularly-seen Spanish pass-from-the-back strategy worked once again ending the Dutch dream 1-0 or perhaps it was due to the 8 Dutch yellow cards followed by Heitinga’s sending off that did it. Who knows? Condescendingly the Dutch opened this competition with a 2-0 win over the Danes.
The Netherlands then went on to lose the rest of their Euro 2012 campaign 2-1 against Germany and Portugal subsequently, this was shocking really considering they went into the tournament with the full ground-shuddering 24 points from 8 matches.
In hindsight, Holland have never really seemed to regain that sheer confidence and form shown since the World Cup Semi-Final where they were systematically glorious tub-thumbing Uruguay out with a stomping 3-2 win. Their performance in the quarters was also none-short of miraculous when Sneijder double-goaled in such style to counter Brazil’s one.
The unmighty Dutch have continued this period of remorse losing 4-2 in a friendly against neighbouring and language-sharing nation Belgium. Their last win was before the Euros in June against an emerging Northern Ireland team. If Holland intend to regain their respect the need to perform more than adequately in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers against Turkey, Hungary, Romania, Estonia and Andorra later this year shortly followed by tormenting friendlies against European giants Germany and Italy. It is probably about time to abdicate various members of the eight from the 2010 World Cup squad and replace long-standing caps like Kuyt (90), Sneijder (88) and Mathijsen (83) with new blood.
Will we will ever see the return of Golden-orange football from the likes of Overmars, Bergkamp, Nistelrooy and Kluivert?
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