Well its’ half time! I decided to watch this game over the Germany vs Denmark game for a couple reasons, mainly because of the huge controversy over Holland failing to get a point in this stage of the tournament. Still, some of my thoughts for the teams.
Netherlands- The defense looks okay at times, but this is not enough to hold down a Ronaldo that is back on his feet. The Dutch were hoping they weren’t going to have to worry about him, but this is definitely not the case today. Without the defensive help of Mark van Bommel, Holland are going to have to pick the defense up by at least twice the amount to ensure that no looks are found on the goal. Ronaldo has shown that he will stop at nothing to put in another one in, and with the history of the previous games, we know that other players can definitely do the same. Once this happens, Netherlands needs to work on building up to get a good feel on touching the ball and get into the rhythm again, something they haven’t done since the 28′ minute after Ronaldo’s goal. Also, they have decided to go with a very aggresively-based 4-2-3-1, so looking for counter-attacks is essential and might decide the match.
Portugal- After a shaky first part of the first half, Portugal looked great coming off the feel at the half. Ronaldo’s goal has given him great confidence, and hopefully he can take that on to the next half to score that second goal he is dying for. I usually refrain from saying such things, but Nani is playing out of his mind. Beautiful touches, experienced-based movement, and destroying defense is a small amount of things that he has done in this half. Using him will be key to gaining another goal. Portugal needs to feed the corners more balls and let Ronaldo and Nani work the magic that they have been using so far. Other than that, making sure that the defense don’t get lazy and the defensive wingers help the offense like they did on Ronaldo’s goal will help the pressure of Portugal, making Holland subside into their half for at least a great amount of time.
Final Score- Netherlands:1/Portugal:2
11′-van der Vaart, 28′-Ronaldo, 74′-Ronaldo
What an exciting game. If you asked me exactly nine days ago who would move on in Group B, I would of referred to the FIFA ranked 4th place team and predicted them to take the group. But after this crazy three games, Netherlands, for the first time in history, lost multiple games in a row and exited a tournament without any points. Although I’m disappointed to see one of the pre-tournament favorites to go, everything that happened in this game was not out of the ordinary. Holland came out guns roaring and ready to put themselves in a contending position for second place in the group, with a remarkable goal by Rafael van der Vaart in the 11′ minutes. My first impressions were to think that the Dutch could make the comeback of the year, but sadly fell short and a few moments later, Portugal up’ed the tempo and put Ronaldo in the pilot seat, leading the Portuguese offense.
After that, the Netherlands offense was not to be seen again, giving up a goal in the 28′ minute to a beautiful combination of Joao Pereira and Cristiano Ronaldo, who silenced all doubters for sure with that beautiful +40 yarder at Stekelenburg. I bring up this shot because I believe that this was a major turning point in the mental minds of Holland. That shot showed that Ronaldo’s goal was not a fluke, that he was truly there to put points up and take his team to the next stage of the tournament. That shot shut up everyone who said Messi’s name in the Denmark game, and further more, let his team know that this was not going to be easy for Holland. The lethality of that man is unparalleled in this tournament, and this is something that they will have to breed on in the upcoming games.
Holland were not there for the rest of the match, as I predicted. As history showed in the games before, the goal against Holland usually spelled their demise for the rest of the game. The second goal, which was expertly created by the old Manchester United teammates, killed the Oranjes off, and everyone on the pitch knew that this was the end for Holland. Holland’s tournament showing should not stop at the lack of wins, as maybe the chemistry is something that also needs to be improved on. The counter-argument is that this is basically the team that took runner up back in 2010, but my rebuttal to that would be that this is not the same team, obviously.
My words of advice to the Portugal team is to use this momentum against the Czech. They are a strong team who showed that the Russia game was just a misstep, and with the monster Petr Cech behind them, goals will not come easy. Headers near the goal will be tough because of Cech’s height and the tight defense that the Czech play will make it hard for the Portuguese to puncture the line like they did against Holland. With the beaming confidence that Portugal acquired in this game, I suspect to see them in the semi-finals in this tournament.