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EUROPE > Dutch have backs against the wall

KRAKOW, Poland - The Associated Press

The Netherlands has no room for error when itmeets Portugal in a do-or-die game in the Euro 2012. However, even a win might not be enough for the Dutch

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Dutch defender Joris Mathijsen shouts at his teammates during his team’s 2-1 defeat to Germany in the Euro 2012. AFP photo

Dutch defender Joris Mathijsen shouts at his teammates during his team’s 2-1 defeat to Germany in the Euro 2012. AFP photo

Netherlands players sidestepped their soaked training pitch for a gym workout on June 14, still pondering how their team is turning into the biggest dud of the tournament.

After a 2-1 loss to archrival Germany, the Dutch are bottom of Group B with no points after two matches and reaching for the calculator to determine how they can stay alive in the tournament.
Germany has six points and needs one more against Denmark on Sunday to guarantee advancing. Portugal and Denmark are on three points.

For the Netherlands to go through, they must beat Portugal by at least a two-goal margin and hope Denmark loses to Germany.

“We will have to come up with something to beat them by two goals,” said coach Bert van Marwijk, aware that his team faces a particularly tough task.

Dutch players said German midfielder Thomas Müller had come to the dressing room after Wednesday’s match to assure the Netherlands that his team would do its utmost to beat the Danes.

And Mario Gomez, who scored both of Germany’s goals against the Dutch, was insistent there would be no easing up against Denmark.

“We want to win the third game too,” Gomez said. “This is no time to take a rest.”

For all their swagger and pedigree, no Dutch player thought their current predicament was in the realm of possibility a week ago. They reached the World Cup final only two years ago, after all.

“There is this sense of disbelief,” playmaker Wesley Sneijder said.

Winger Arjen Robben challenged Germany to “fulfill its duty” by beating the Danes. “Then we have our destiny in our hands by winning by a two-goal margin,” the Bayern Munich winger said. “But being dependent (on Germany) doesn’t feel good.”

The Dutch have a bad record against Portugal. In 2004, the Netherlands lost to the Portuguese in the semifinals of the European Championship. Two years later, they lost to them again in the second round of the World Cup.

June/16/2012

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