Portugal vs. Netherlands – UEFA Euro 2012 Group B Match Preview

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The Group of Death has truly lived up to its name as just hours before kickoff, all four teams have a chance of going through to the quarterfinals. Although not guaranteed, especially not after the surprises seen in Group A’s qualifying, Germany is likely to lead the group into the next round of the championship.

The real battle will be between Portugal and the Netherlands, who both seek a win to secure a spot in the quarterfinals. The Portuguese know they can’t rely on anything but a win, given the complicated conditions of the group; while the Dutch must go out to fight as they tether between life and death after losing two games.

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Helder Postiga is likely to start for the Portuguese.

In order for the Netherlands to qualify, they must beat the Iberians by 2+ goals and rely on Germany to beat Denmark. Even if the Dutch do their part against Portugal, a tie or loss by the Germans will send them home.

Surprisingly, the Netherlands seem to be the underdogs of the match, as their history with Portugal dictates. The Seleção have only lost to the Dutch once in their last 10 encounters – the sole defeat occurring in the 1991 European Championship qualifiers.

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Will Mark van Bommel make the Netherlands starting eleven?

In terms of gameplay tactics, the Oranje have no choice but to put as much forward pressure as possible. They must be careful of their backline, however. Having already had issues with their defense, an attacking setup will create space for the Portuguese to advance. The Dutch will have to watch out for Cristiano Ronaldo and Nani, who can easily take advantage of any gaps with a counter-attack.

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A quick Cristiano Ronaldo against Denmark.

Coach Bert van Marwijk will undoubtedly make changes to his starting eleven after suffering two defeats. He has already stated that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar will start alongside Robin Van Persie, which is not surprising given the result they need. However, another switch involving Rafael van der Vaart in place of Mark van Bommel may be seen due to the counter-attacking nature of the Portuguese.

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Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (left) battles against Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger (right).

As for Paulo Bento’s men, the match will likely star the same lineup seen against Denmark, with Helder Postiga in the striker position in place of Hugo Almeida. Their strength so far in defense will come in handy against a Dutch side looking for goals. Fabio Coentrão, Pepe, and Miguel Veloso will be key in keeping the Netherlands midfield from creating any goal-scoring chances.

Really anything can happen in this match. The Portuguese can hold off the Oranje with how they’ve played against Germany and Denmark, but the Netherlands are more than capable of scoring the two goals needed to send Portugal packing.

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