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"The intellectualisation
of football has
always foundered
on a simple problem-
-the players. Doing
all your most
rewarding thinking
with your feet seems
to dull the philo-
sophical impulse.
Unless, of course,
you are Dutch.
According to legend,
Europeans played
a moronic, muscular
version of the world's
game, until Holland
proclaimed its vision
of total football in the
1974 World Cup,
and enlightenment
dawned."

From:
Brilliant Orange: The Neurotic Genius of Dutch Football
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UEFA Euro 2012 Poland & Ukraine - Finals
Flat Dutch don't know what to do with 20+ chances

9 June 2012

A surprisingly flat and lackluster Dutch side were upset by a brave Danish team that made the most of very poor Dutch defending. Holland had 20+ decent chances but failed to convert even a single one. Manager Bert van Marwijk will have a lot to do to get his side back on track, or else Holland could be out after Wednesday's game against the Germans. This team never made the impression that they are aware of the fact that these are the finals.

It was the first defeat against Denmark (over 90 minutes) since 1967, and in the end it was mainly disbelieve on the side of the Dutch. Disbelieve about all the missed chances, disbelieve about defeat against a side that doesn't have half the individual quality of Oranje and that made even more mistakes than Holland did. We can emphasize many things in the Dutch team that were under par today, but the bottom line was that Holland simply failed to convert the chances they created.

But missing the chances should against this Danish team have led to at least a goalless draw. Sadly Holland's defense - without the injured Joris Mathijsen - was not exactly solid. The way they conceded the only goal of the game after 24 minutes of very slow and uninspired football was exemplary. Johny Heitinga turned his back on his opponent Krohn-Dehli, and then let his former colleague at Ajax get passed him on the outside, even though Van Bommel was covering the inside and Heitinga should have known that this turn was the Dane's trademark. Maarten Stekelenburg could perhaps have done more with the low drive that sizzled through his legs: 0-1.

But this defensive slip wasn't the main reason Holland didn't win.

There was too much distance between the lines, not enough pressure on the Danish defense and too many key players were far from their best. In the first 45 minutes Wesley Sneijder was invisible, Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong did not involve themselves in Holland's buildup and right back Gregory van de Wiel seemed unable to add anything at all, both defensively and offensively.

The pace was too low to begin with and when the Danish confidence grew bigger and bigger as the game progressed, Holland's own improvements after the break did little to change the face of the game. The team seemed to lack the spark that saw them to the final in 2010, and must hope that it will be there when they face Germany on Wednesday.

Yet again: had Robin van Persie, Arjen Robben, Wesley Sneijder, Ibrahim Afellay, Mark van Bommel, Ron Vlaar, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Jetro Willems, John Heitinga or Rafael van der Vaart hit the back of the net on one of the many possibilities they were offered we would have been talking about a simple and all too logic victory of the team of Bert van Marwijk. Or had the referee done what most referees would have done when Jacobsen denied Huntelaar with his left arm (twice), namely put the ball on the spot, Holland would have at least gotten a draw.

Nothing is lost yet, and Germany and Portugal seem very welcome opponents to improve on today's upset result. In 1988, when Holland won their only ever trophy they lost their first game as well, and clinging to that fact might give the team just what's needed to wash away the bad taste of this defeat.

Goals

 

0-1

M. Krohn-Dehli 24'

Cards

M. van Bommel 66' Gele kaart  
  S. Poulsen 78' Gele kaart
  W. Kvist 81' Gele kaart

Lineups & substitutions

M. Stekelenburg   S. Andersen  
G. van der Wiel 85' D. Kuyt D. Agger  
J. Willems   L. Jacobsen  
J. Heitinga   S. Poulsen  
R. Vlaar   S. Kjr  
A. Robben   W. Kvist  
I. Afellay 71' K. Huntelaar C. Eriksen 74' L. Schne
M. van Bommel   M. Krohn-Dehli  
N. de Jong 71' R. Van der Vaart N. Zimling  
W. Sneijder   D. Rommedahl 84' T. Mikkelsen
R. van Persie   N. Bendtner  

Euro 2012 campaign - Results, schedule, standings

Holland at European Championships

All time European Championships ranking

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