Man of the Match
Given all the space he had at easy disposal, is there any wonder Cristiano Ronaldo went hog wild in this one. (Sure, Holland, we see no reason to defend the midfield. None at all. What could possibly go wrong?) Ronaldo more or less toyed with the Dutch, scoring twice and arranging wonderfully for others, even if they failed to seal the deal. He came so tantalizingly close to a hat trick, whacking the post in the 90th. If Ronaldo finally wakes up from his historical slumber in major tournaments, and goes on to crush it in this tournament, blame the Dutch.
Packaged for take-away
- For as bad as the Dutch defense is – and however poor you believe it to, it’s really a little worse – the Dutch attack stunk it up pretty good, too. The Dutch, coming into Euro 2012 as the more-or-less third favorites, will go slinking home having scored twice in three games. Oh, and zero points in the standings. Nice job, Oranje. There might just be more disappointing displays from a European Championship – I just can’t think of any at the moment.
- With any better shooting from the Portuguese, it could have been a two- or three-goal win, easily.
- And … things also could have been worse for the Dutch, who were lucky to keep things at 11 men on the field after Jetro Willems crunching challenge on Joao Moutinho. Willems was booked. If it was possible to be “super-booked” without actually being thrown out, that’s what it would have been.
- Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk removed Johnny Heitinga from central defense. I mean, fair enough, but that’s like replacing one flat tire and still driving around with three deflated ones.
- Portugal presumably came to play for a draw, or perhaps the one-goal loss that might have been sufficient. Or, maybe the Dutch were just that good out of the gate. (Hah! I make a funny.) Either way, Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. seemed to have very little interest in playing until Holland scored. So things started off promising enough for the Dutch, who would have gone through with a two-goal win. Arjen Robben actually passed the ball on several of his first two opportunities on the right. Seriously! I know, right?
- One of those passes went to Rafael Van der Vaart, who bent a beauty to provide brief hope to the legions in orange and funny orange hats.
- I mean, the Dutch defense is bad enough without Gregory van der Wiel actually handing opportunities. It would have been a brilliant through ball from the Dutch right back – if only the through ball in question would have been
- You knew Portugal’s goal was coming. Holland was mostly defending with five, having tweaked the lineup, removing Mark van Bommel in favor of Rafael Van der Vaart. The net out was better offense but even less defending, if that’s possible. So, it wasn’t only that the Dutch defending was poor (as it has been), Sunday it was poor in insufficient numbers. Van der Vaart tried to give Nigel de Jong some second man defensive support in front of the Dutch back line, but he wasn’t much good at it. So Portugal went to slicing and dicing the Dutch defense like a Japanese Hibachi chef.
- For the final 20 minutes before the break, it’s all Portugal. Come to think of it, they more or less did this to Germany once they decided to come out to play. Germany was trying to protect a lead, so perhaps that’s a bit of apples and oranges. The point is, the Portuguese can be a threat when they want.
- Portugal’s opening goal started on a needless giveaway from left back Willems.
- In a lot of ways, the difference was the Portuguese midfielder’s ability and desire to retreat immediately into good defensive spots once Holland won the. Guys like 16. Even Ronaldo took up good spots, perhaps not hastening to tackle, but at least shutting off a passing lane.
- Just before Ronaldo sealed the deal, he had beautifully arranged things for Nani in the 72nd. Truly, he just needed to steer the ball home, but more good work from Maarten Stekelenburg.