Tough task for Holland

The statistics do not make pleasant reading for the Netherlands, who must beat Portugal by two goals on Sunday and hope that Germany overcome Denmark if they are to reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.

Dutch players in a huddle prior to their Euro match against Germany on Wednesday. Pic/Getty Images

Moments after Germany beat the Dutch 2-1 on Wednesday, German midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger embraced his former Bayern Munich teammate and Holland skipper Mark van Bommel in the centre of the field and assured him that they will do their best to beat Denmark on Sunday.

Netherlands will also hope Schweinsteiger keeps his word. No team however, has ever reached the knockout phase at a Euro after losing their first two matches and the last time the Oranje were eliminated in the group phase of the European Championship was in 1980 — two years after they finished runners-up at the 1978 World Cup — just as they did in 2010.

Coach Bert van Marwijk also appears to face problems with some of his most important players. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart have both expressed anger at being left out of his starting line-up, while Arjen Robben reacted to his substitution during the defeat to Germany by jumping over an advertising hoarding and stalking angrily back to the dug-out.

The top scorers in qualifying with 37 goals, Holland took 45 shots to find the net here but Van Marwijk put faith in his team. “We still have a chance of going through and we have to believe in it. Thousands of fans have come here and we have to do well for them. We have to beat Portugal.”

Striker Wesley Sneijder called for patience. “I ask the fans to keep supporting us. I want to send them our apologies Our understanding appears to have disappeared but I’m here to become a European champion,” he said.  

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