While some had picked the Dutch to be a sleeper pick to take home the trophy, I never doubted their tendency to throw in a clunker of a game or tournament. So I kind of nodded and smiled today as they thrashed about like a kid with waterwings who got tossed into the pool by his older brother. Sadly, Germany's funcionality also shown through, which isn't good for anyone.
I think Arjen Robben broke one of my windows with a shot. The Dutch are such an odd set up, with five guys defending and four guys attacking and really no link between the two. Some of this was down to the Danish fullbacks keeping the Dutch ones pinned back and unable to do their part to link the two. But Van Bommel and De Jong get a nosebleed if they cross the halfway line, and with Robben, Affelay, and Van Persie hilariously bad, it provided some comedy in what was otherwise a pretty dire match. Watching Daniel Agger turn away every Dutch attack, probably while laughing maniacally, brought a lift to my Liverpool heat, with Kjaer also as impenetrable. And as any Liverpool supporter knows, if you don't make your possession count you're asking for the other side to bag the one they get and really put you in it. Can't imagine how relieved Agger was to be on the other side for once.
Now the Dutch have all the makings of an implosion. They probably need to boost their attack by removing one of De Jong or Van Bommel to aid the offense with something more creative and linking to the attack. But with Germany up next, you wonder how much damage could be done against with a very dodgy backline. Second, they will be heavily tempted to toss on Huntelaar ahead of Van Persie, which has the potential to be one of those side dividing decisions. Especially as Van Persie hasn't always been the good soldier, exactly.
As for the Germany match, I was also somewhat delighted that early on, all the players from The Hun who I think define mediocre -- Muller, Gomez, Podolski -- were just that. But I forgot to count on how insipid Portugal have become. Ronaldo stayed too wide to be effective, and Germany threw three guys at him whenever he did have the ball. They still don't have a striker, with Postiga joining Pauleta and Nuno Gomes in the long tradition of useless Portugal strikers. Nani was wasteful, and what should have been a somewhat tasty midfield was more concentrated on keeping Germany out. Of course, Gomez finished the one chance that was easier to miss, and here we are. They just find a way, which is probably why everyone's annoyed by them.
Day 3 Preview:
I fully expect Spain-Italy to be as turgid at it gets. I just see Spain controlling the ball for 89 minutes, trying to break down an obstinate Italian side. "Italy" and "obstinate" being synonyms in the world of football. Spain probably nicks with with a scrambled goal off a corner or a penalty off a dubious handball that will cause the Italians to argue with the ref for no less than 28 minutes.
Croatia-Ireland has a chance to be entertaining, but Croatia probably will run out easy winners with Modric running things. And no match with a Trappatoni involves is likely to be easy on the eyes.