Euro 2012: Last chance to change for Dutch team
Kharkiv (Ukraine), June 16 (IANS) The Dutch national team is on the brink of elimination at Euro 2012 and coach Bert van Marwijk has indicated that things will change in Sunday's game against Portugal.
After the defeat against Denmark and Germany, the World Cup runners-up can no longer decide on their own fate. The Netherlands need to beat Portugal by at least two goals and hope for a Germany win against Denmark in order to progress, reported Xinhua.
The possible changes by Van Marwijk will be unique, looking at his history as a Dutch national team coach. When he took office in 2008 he promised to make 'Oranje' more stable and he did with a very conservative approach. He gave confidence to a select group of players and kept that trust until now.
One of the first and most important measures of Van Marwijk was choosing Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong as a defensive duo on midfield with which he wanted to compensate for the defensive weakness. That formula worked well until the 2010 World Cup, reaching the final with a solid team in which a class player like Wesley Sneijder could excel.
The conservative style of play also led to criticism, already in 2010, but thanks to the excellent results the critics remained relatively limited to a few who wanted to return to the traditional Dutch attacking style.
Yet Van Marwijk was not blind to that criticism. He also wanted to impose attacking accents and experimented with a more offensive block in midfield with Rafael van der Vaart and also with Kevin Strootman next to captain Mark van Bommel .
However, with Van der Vaart the Dutch proved to be too vulnerable in the back, according to Van Marwijk, and Strootman showed, particularly during the 0-3 defeat by Germany in November 2011, he was not completely ready for the highest level. He also started with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar as central striker, but despite several goals by the Bundesliga top scorer, Van Marwijk returned to Robin van Persie before Euro 2012.
In 2012, Van Marwijk returned to his trusted eleven anyway. Compared to the line-up in the World Cup final the team that played against Germany at Euro 2012 was different in two places. Only Giovanni van Bronkhorst, who retired after the World Cup, and Dirk Kuyt, who has been replaced by Ibrahim Afellay, were lacking.
Despite the weaknesses, the team was able to create several chances against Denmark and also had some opportunities against the Germans, so a lack of luck is an important reason for the lack of success so far. Luck they had two years ago, especially in the first half of the quarter-final against Brazil. The weaknesses exposed now were also partly present two years ago, but the results made up for these imperfections.
Next to the lack of luck and a minor overall team performance, some players are less strong than in 2010. The 35-year-old Van Bommel, one of the driving forces behind the success of 2010, makes a weak impression. He was replaced at half-time against Germany. It was the first time the captain was substituted by Van Marwijk at such an important occasion. Van der Vaart was his replacement and Huntelaar entered the team, with Van Persie moving back one line. The latter had wasted his opportunities as a striker, but found the net playing behind the striker.
Possibly, these two changes, will be the changes Van Marwijk was referring to for the match against Portugal. Whether the changes come in time, is the question. The changes might even come too late for Van Marwijk, who has a contract until 2016 at the Dutch football association KNVB. An early exit at Euro 2012 could lead to an early exit of Van Marwijk.
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