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The Dutch must win their final group game by two goals, and hope Germany beat Denmark, in order to progress the quarters, but past meetings suggest it will be no easy task

ANALYSIS
By Stephen Gillett | Portugal Expert

Past results suggest Portugal should be hot favourites to beat Bert van Marwijk's beleaguered Netherlands side in their crucial Group B decider on Sunday.

Germany and Netherlands may sit side-by-side geographically, but for the average Portuguese football fan they are poles apart.

Simply put, the average fan in Lisbon or Oporto believe that the Seleccao will always lose to the Nationalelf, but will approach any fixture against the Dutch with confidence.

Prior to the Seleccao's opening Group B game against die Mannschaft, the mood amongst the Portuguese public was pretty pessimistic: Joachim Low's pre-tournament favourites were believed to have too much for the erratic one-man band that Portugal become on rainy days.

The phrase "We never beat the Germans" was on everyone's lips both before and after the game and, in reality, that not all that surprising.


VS

 THE LAST FIVE MATCHES
Score Date
Competition
June 2006 Portugal 1-0 Netherlands
World Cup 2006
June 2004 Portugal 2-1 Netherlands
Euro 2004 semi-final
April 2003 Netherlands 1-1 Portugal
International friendly
March 2001 Portugal 2-2 Netherlands
World Cup Qualifier
October 2000 Netherlands 0-2 Portugal
World Cup Qualifier

A quick flick through the history books clearly shows how this Germanic neurosis has wormed its way into the psyche of Portuguese football fans. In 16 clashes with Germany (including all European Championship, World Cup and friendly games), Portugal have won just three.

So, enough of looking back  - let's look forward. On Sunday, Portugal take on Netherlands in Kharkiv at the sharp end of the action in Group B of this summer's European Championship. Portugal have lost to the Germans and beaten the Danes, which were probably the expected results when the draw was made.

Bert van Marwijk's side are on the brink of becoming the flops of Euro 2012. Oranje have been sluggish and bad-tempered during defeats to Denmark and Germany.

Sides prepare for crunch tie
More disappointingly, they have failed to dispel the notion that they are no longer the positive force they were in world football before the 2010 World Cup, and that they have turned to the dark side, abandoning their 'Totaalvoetbal' principles.

The free-flowing football of sides graced by the likes of Johan Cruyff, Rob Rensenbrink and Marco van Basten seems light years away - the only spark being Wesley Sneijder who, at times, has looked like the only one making any effort.

In other words, the Dutch appear on the ropes, ready for the taking, which should only increase the optimism of Portuguese fans, who like playing Netherlands during the best of times. Unlike the powerful German juggernaut, the Dutch are seen as more 'Latin'. More artistic, more temperamental, more erratic. More Portuguese, perhaps.

Another quick look at the stats pack, and reasons for Portugal's quiet confidence ahead of the game are revealed: they have won six, drawn three and lost just once against Oranje.

Portugal won in the last-16 of World Cup 2006 (1-0), in the semi-final of Euro 2004 (2-1) and in qualifier for the 2002 World Cup (2-0) and Euro 1992 (1-0). They have never lost to Netherlands in a friendly.

The only time the Dutch have beaten the Seleccao was in fact in October 1991. In Rotterdam, a 1-0 win in the home-leg Euro qualifier. Richard Witschge scored for Oranje, who reached the finals of Euro '92 at Portugal's expense.

That Dutch side eventually crashed out in the semi-finals of Euro '92 - after a penalty shoot-out against Denmark, who remarkably went on to beat Germany in the final to win the tournament.

Fast forward to this summer again, and it is clear that history favours Paulo Bento's men, who will hope to extend their fantastic record against the Dutch to progress to a quarter-finals.

To do this, though, they will have to hope an unfancied Danish side do not 'do a Euro 1992' and record another famous victory over Germany.

If Denmark beat Germany by a single goal - with die Mannschaft scoring two or more - Cristiano Ronaldo et al. will be on the plane home regardless of Portuguese results past or present.

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