It’s fortunate I’m behind (normal service resumed tomorrow) because I think I’m still too tender to talk about what Spain just did to Ireland. No, today we’ll have a lookback at the clashes between the heavyweights, and who heavier than the Dutch and their rivals Germany.
Despite Holland’s stature, the Gerries went into the game favourites and it was fairly easy to see why after the game. There is a sense of inevitability when Germany enter a tournament that betting against them in the group stages is a way to lose money.
The game was chock-a with in-form national strikers including Munich battering ram Mario Gomez who had recorded 13 goals in 14 Champions League games. His critics pointed to his performance in that tournament’s final saying he goes missing in the big games, well he certainly went missing from the Dutch back four. Zing.
Both finishes were made to look simple but he definitely broke some shooting rules with that second one. In the end it was the Oranje’s complete lack of marking on Bastian Schweinsteiger (a lesson they still hadn’t learnt at the end) that cost them. He picked up both assists and generally looked like the world beater that completely outplayed England in South Africa. Everyone was having fun, Joachim Loew included:
Holland weren’t helped by their misfiring front line. The eggman Robben was doing a Champions League final all over row Z, Huntelaar left his first touch on the bench, and although Batman’s sidekick van Persie did grab right footer, his left needed to take note. For me though it was the young left back that seemed to be the problem, or should I say his role.
Jetro Willems was a surprise call up to many; the youngest Euro player ever had only made 36 senior club appearances, but nevertheless looks a quality player – once touted as the next Patrice Evra. It isn’t his performance that gets me but his purpose in the squad.
Several times he hit pretty hopeless crosses, and can’t match the skill of his peers, but that’s okay – it’s what you get with youth and it’ll improve. The issue arose when Holland thought they could win it. As soon as every touch became vital and crosses were too risky they just stopped passing the ball to him. Why is he there then? The players don’t decide the play, do they? It is an unusual thing to see on the pitch but then again this is the Dutch we are talking about – they implode, they lose.
Someone should have told Robben however, as he was taking a lap of honour 15 minutes early.
In the impossible to pronounce Lviv, the Portuguese and Danish played a bit of a humdinger. From the off the Portuguese were as threatening as back to back scorpions but the Danish did see more of the ball and maybe should have seen the point away. A fun watch for everyone but a defensive coach (symptomatic of this tournament) the game was basically decided on who could defend worse for 90 minutes and get away with it.
Hate him or dislike him, Nicklas Bendtner does score for the Danes, especially against the Iberians, making it six in five against Portugal. I’m not a fan but I have to say, one was unmissable and the other needed the post to coax it in so forgive me if I don’t sing his praises too much. Still, he needed to put them away and he did, maybe it was because his junk was sponsored by Paddy Power.
All in all, Portugal deserved to win. The Danes were unlucky that Varela’s disgusting miss-hit set him up for a hit-hit to win it (Impressive against Germany from the bench and now a winning goal, keep your peepers peeled), but they were fortuitous that Ronaldo had replaced his right foot with a relatively limp fish.