Holland cling to hope as Portugal eye last eight

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Group B Preview: Portugal v Netherlands
Kharkiv, Jun 16: The statistics do not make pleasant reading for the Netherlands, who must beat Portugal by two goals here tomorrow and hope Germany overcome Denmark if they are to reach the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.

No team has ever reached the knockout phase at a Euro after losing their first two matches, and statistical website Infostrada Sports estimates that Bert van Marwijk's side stand only a 9.5 percent chance of going through.

The omens are similarly ominous. The last time the Oranje were eliminated at the group phase of the European Championship was in 1980, two years after they finished runners-up at the 1978 World Cup -- just as they did in 2010. As if the weight of history was not enough of a burden, van Marwijk also appears to face problems with several of his most important players.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Rafael van der Vaart have both expressed anger at being left out of his starting line-up, while Arjen Robben reacted to his substitution in Wednesday's 2-1 loss to Germany by jumping over an advertising hoarding and stalking angrily back to the dug-out.

The top scorers in qualifying with 37 goals, it took Holland 45 shots to find the net at the Euro but Robin van Persie's 73rd-minute effort against Germany was ultimately in vain. The Dutch press have deplored van Marwijk's continued faith in van Persie at the expense of Huntelaar, who could start in place of Ibrahim Afellay in Kharkiv on Sunday with Holland obliged to attack Portugal from the off.

"I drew a lot of conclusions from our defeat against Germany," said van Marwijk, as quoted by Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad. "We defended carelessly and the service of both Ibrahim Afellay and Arjen Robben from the flanks was not good enough."

AFP

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