The Grim Reaper visits Ukraine tonight to claim the victims of the group of death, but it might not be the nation’s he had jotted in his note pad when the fixtures were released.Pre-tournament favourites Holland could be eliminated tonight if they don’t win by two clear goals and Germany fail to beat Denmark. Two years ago the Dutch were 90 minutes from being crowned champions of the world, now they are 90 minutes from elimination in the Euro’s. This is all set up for an attacking display for the Dutch, and this could be shown in Van Marwijk’s team selection, with the possibility of Huntelaar and Van Der Vaart starting in attacking positions.
It couldn’t be a tougher opponent for Holland, as they have only beat Portugal once in their last ten meetings, and statistics such as no team has ever progressed after losing their first two games will not bode well in the Dutch dressing room.
Portugal on the other hand have a much rosier scenario on their hands. All they have to do is better the Danes result and they are through, something they will be quietly confident of doing given Holland’s form at this competition and Germany’s dominance of the group. Another stat in Portugal’s favour comes in the form of goals conceded, as they have kept a clean sheet against the Dutch in six of their last ten encounters, but then stats are there to be broken and the fact that Huntellar and Van Der Vaart could be starting means Portugal can expect a much more attacking team than we have seen earlier in the tournament.
When these two sides met in the 2006 World Cup, the game was somewhat marred by an unbelievable 16 yellow cards, which resulted in four red cards, two for each team, both teams will be hoping for a slightly less aggressive game this time around.
Portugal seem to have everything in their favour, being the only country never to have dropped out of the competition at the group stage. They will be looking to the main man Christiano Ronaldo to finally come alive in the Euro’s and lead them in to the last eight in good form. This is the first time Holland have lost two games in a group stage of the European Championships and th8ey haven’t been eliminated at this stage since Euro 1980, so some omens are still on their side.
All we can do is sit down and enjoy a piece of history unfold, whether it be one of the favourites who gets the kiss of death, or a team who wouldn’t have expected this come the last game of the group stage leaving us with their heads held high.
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This article was first posted on June 17, 2012