Drink: Gazela Vinho Verde
No nation was safe coming into today’s matches. The safest, Germany, only needed a draw, but the others had an epic battle. Holland, one of the pre-tournament favorites, stood at zero points – needing a win and some help to advance.
This looked to be a great final day for the Group ‘o Death, and it began as such. All four sides came out gunning, with the Portuguese looking the most tame, while Holland relentlessly on the attack. And it did not take long before Rafeal Van der Vaart unleashed a disgusting lash from beyond the box into the far corner. It was merely a matter of procedure, as Holland was in control. They featured an unfair lineup of offensive talent, boasting the best two-striker platoon of any squad in the Euro field, with Hunterlaar and Van Persie, backed up by some of the most creative midfielders in the world: Sneijder, Van der Vaart, and Robben (though I have my misgivings with the latter). Yet, after the opening goal, we never saw the hope and prowess that Holland opened with in the first 11.
And that was the simple story of the game. After that opening goal, resulting from dominate Dutch soccer, there was rarely a glimpse of such play for the final 80-ish minutes. Yes, the Dutch defense was terrible, but when the midfield had “control,” they hardly ever looked.. well, in control. The two star striker combo never found space and the overstock of creativity in the midfield did little to help them out. No one was ever on the same page for the Dutch, while Portuguese turned their talent deficiency into team play and locked down anything the Dutch were willing to… um… waste (?). More than anything, it was a failure of Dutch football, but one has give kudos to the Portuguese will. Portugal look like aimed to gained to gather momentum and make some havoc.
On the other end of the group, Germany asserted their muscle and held onto a 2-1 victory over the upstart Danes. Deutchland held their fine form to top the group with the win. After the initial back-and-forth between the two sides, Germany laid down the krauserstanz (made up word?) in the second half and announced to the world that they are amongst the favorites.
The result of all these reindeer games is that Portugal and Germany advance from the Group ‘o Death to meet the survivors of the Group ‘o Shit. Thus, Germany takes on debt-ridden, talent-ridden Greece, while Portugal should be favorites against Group A “winners” (nobody is a winner from that group) Czech Republic. If favorites favorite, it will most likely be a Spain v Portugal semi final.
I must say that since Joelseppi convinced me to watch soccer during the 1998 World Cup (and I have been uber-hooked ever since), the Dutch 2012 squad has to be the most disappointing side I have witnessed. This squad has an endless display of attacking talent at their disposal, yet only netted two goals over three matches – and that tally accurately represents the awful display they provided. They went conservative-ish in the first two games, and yet, a balls-out approach for their final 90 minutes netted a single goal. It is hard to say what led to the Dutch Oven.