Skip to content

Saturday’s pre-Euro 2012 friendlies: Dutch pre-tournament rituals

Jun 2, 2012, 5:17 PM EDT

Can the Netherlands turn on the style down in Brazil? Their match vs. Chile could be a real dazzler. Getty Images

Last weekend’s pre-Euro 2012 friendlies saw a handful qualified teams walk through some mildly interesting matches: Spain’s reserves strolled; Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark lost; and the metronomic predictability of Portugal gave us another goal-less performance.

This weekend, with most teams sprinting through their final Euro 2012 auditions, the results were noticeably better. Portugal even managed to score.

Netherlands 6-0 Northern Ireland

On June 5, 2010, the Netherlands were sent to South Africa 2010 only after villagers around Amsterdam sought the Tulip God’s World Cup blessing by bringing a ceremonial roe deer to the steps of the municipal windmill to be bludgeoned by clog. Some interpreted the ritual as a soccer game, reporting it as a 6-1 win over Hungary. The confusion led Arjen Robben to rupture a groin.

Today the ritual was repeated. This time, Northern Ireland played the roe deer and failed to scored. For the Dutch, Robin van Persie scored twice. So did Ibrahim Afellay. Wesley Sneijder and Ron Vlaar rounded out the Netherlands’ 6-0 victory.

Northern Ireland has now won only two of their last 26 matches.

Team capsule: Netherlands

England 1-0 Belgium

A second-straight impressive win for the Three Lions, having won by the same score in Norway last week.  Perhaps more important: Roy Hodgson avoided his librarian’s tendencies and started some players who could trouble an opposition’s defense.

In our England capsule, I speculated an “attacking” three of Andy Carroll, James Milner and Stewart Downing could would be “brutal.” There was an alternative: Starting Ashley Young and Theo Walcott wide, flanking Danny Welbeck. We didn’t exactly get that today (either in selection or formation), but the choices were encouraging: Welbeck was healthy enough to start up top (scoring in the first half); Young and Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain were also in the starting XI. It was quite the victory for rational deduction.

England’s next game: Nine days from now, when they face France to open the teams’ Euro 2012.

Denmark 2-0 Australia

Morten Olsen’s team came into this match having lost two in a row, and while those losses were against respectable teams (Russia and Brazil), they weren’t by respectable margins, outscored 5-1 in two home games.

All that is in the past, now, though this was not a full-strength Australia, and Denmark let the Socceroos control the second half. Neither of the Danes’ goals came from open play: Daniel Agger scoring from the spot in the first while Andreas Bjelland banged home a corner in the second.

Read between the lines of Olsen’s post-match reaction and you see some worry.

“[Australia] were tired. They have had a tough week because they have been training all week long,” Olsen said. “It is important for us that we have a win at this moment.”

“[A]t this moment.” Subtext: A win is a win, and right now, we’ll take what we can get.

Silver lining: Stephan Anderson kept a clean sheet. He’s going to be Denmark’s starting goalkeeper next week, with Thomas Sorensen forced to pull out of the squad with a back injury.

Team capsule: Denmark

Portugal 1-3 Turkey

Portugal went 57 minutes without scoring (after being shut out in their last two matches). By the time Nani broke through, they were already down two. Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty kick. Pepe closed the match with an own goal. Most embarrassing: Ricardo Quaresema played.

Given what we’ve seen from Portugal and Denmark, is Group B even the tournament’s toughest group? Portugal’s tendency to be vastly-overrated (blame Ronaldo; blame memories of Figo) fueled most “Group of Death” talk, but general under-appreciation of Denmark made up for that. Group B could be the tournament’s toughest quartet without a decent Portugal. Denmark would make up for it.

But what if Denmark can’t? What if neither Denmark nor Portugal can scare Germany or the Netherlands? Is Group B really better than Group C (Spain, Croatia, Italy, Ireland)?

Probably not.

Team capsule: Portugal

Norway 1-1 Croatia

Eh, it happens. I’m sure Slaven Bilic would have loved to go into a tough Group C with a win in Croatia’s final game, but they’ll have to settle for a draw at a decent team who needed a stoppage time equalizer to salvage a result. That Croatia got a draw without their best player, Luka Modric, is also reason to be encouraged.

Bilic, however, may not see it that way. Yesterday, he spoke of the importance of this match as preparation for Ireland (against whom Croatia open Euro 2012). He was also expected a win:

“We couldn’t have a better warm-up for the opening match against Ireland. Norway are something like Ireland, they’re two teams very similar in their style of play and team ability. The match in Oslo will show us where we are a week before our first match … The result is always important and a victory here would bring a better atmosphere and confidence to the team.”

Team capsule: Croatia

Poland 4-0 Andorra

Andorra! An-dorra! FIFA ranking: 205. If you came across a crusty-spined Encyclopedia Brittania curated by an soccer fan who had it up to here with their stuffy editor’s job, you’d find an entry under “Spend-off Game”, and I guarantee you it says “usually played against an opponent highly unlikely to win and thereby ruin the send-off’s festivities (see: Andorra).”

Poland was up three after 40 minutes. Roberto Lewandowski scored. Ludovic Obaniak scored. Jakub Blaszczykowski scored from the spot.

Poland’s next game: Friday against Greece: Euro 2012’s opener.

Team capsule: Poland

ProSoccerTalk is doing its best to keep you up to date on what’s going on in Poland and Ukraine. Check out the site’s Euro 2012 page and look at the site’s previews, predictions, and coverage of all the events defining UEFA’s championship.

Latest Posts
  1. Top five storylines heading into Week 2 of the Premier League

    Aug 22, 2014, 5:10 PM EDT

    Howard rushed off his line to great effect in the first half to thwart Arsenal's offense. Getty Images

    Toffees and Gunners clash, Liverpool head to Man City, London derby time and much more.

  2. Robben dominance, Malanda miss give Bayern opening match win over Wolfsburg

    Aug 22, 2014, 4:59 PM EDT

    arjen_robben AP

    Goal, assist from Dutch star helped deliver Bayern three points to open the Bundesliga season.

  3. Premier League Preview: Aston Villa vs. Newcastle United

    Aug 22, 2014, 4:03 PM EDT

    Andreas Weimann AP

    Can Villa continue their good start to the season? Watch live, Saturday 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN.

  4. Report: Stoke City seeks European loan for Brek Shea; Many interested

    Aug 22, 2014, 3:17 PM EDT

    Burton Albion v Stoke City - Pre Season Friendly Getty Images

    Birmingham City, 1860 Munich, Millwall, Nurnberg… it seems Brek Shea is a man in demand when it comes to his loan from Stoke City.

  5. Bundesliga season preview, predictions: Bayern on top? Sure, but then who?

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:48 PM EDT

    Germany Soccer Cup AP

    The Bavarians added Robert Lewandowski, and look poised to lead again. Who are the favorites to emerge in the race for second?

  6. Prindi’s Premier League Picks: United to get it right, Arsenal to stumble

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:29 PM EDT

    Ryan Giggs, Louis van Gaal AP

    Matchweek 2 brings a few killer games including Everton v. Arsenal on Saturday and Manchester City v. Liverpool on Monday.

  7. Profile: The life and times of Mario Balotelli

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

    Italian forward Mario Balotelli celebrat

    From the early days in Italy, to the craziness of Man City and then back to AC Milan, here’s the timeline of Balotelli’s life so far.

  8. Julian Green gets bench nod for Bundesliga opener, could make league debut

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:03 PM EDT

    Bayern Munich's Julian Green fights for the ball with Al-Merrikh's Ramadan Ajab during their friendly soccer match in Doha Reuters

    The 19-year-old American attacker’s only senior appearance for Bayern was a Champions League sub. That could change today.

  9. La Liga season preview, predictions: Can anyone outlast Real Madrid?

    Aug 22, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT

    Cristiano Ronaldo AP

    Probably not, but with Sevilla and Barcelona strengthening while Atletico deals with roster tumult, look for some changes near the top.

  10. PSV enlists water cannons in next-level ALS Challenge (video)

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:46 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-22 at 12.40.31 PM

    PSV Eindhoven called the police, upping the ante on the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

  11. WATCH: Premier League TV schedule – Week 2

    Aug 22, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    PremierLeagueNBC

    Where and how to watch every single PL game in Week 2, right here.

  12. Friday transfer rumor roundup: Manchester Utd mid search, Remy a Spur?

    Aug 22, 2014, 11:57 AM EDT

    1408716222483_wps_1_CRICIUMA_BRAZIL_AUGUST_9_ Getty Images

    A young Brazilian is the newest name linked with Louis van Gaal, while Manchester City could be selling a top young defender

  13. Report: Jermaine Jones to MLS transfer tied up in red tape

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:59 AM EDT

    Brazil Soccer WCup US Germany AP

    Jones wants to head to Chicago, and wants more money if he goes to New England.

  14. Americans Abroad Preview: Guzan, Howard face tests; Bundesliga opens

    Aug 22, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT

    FBL-FRA-LIGUE1-NANTES-PSG Getty Images

    Nantes is off to another strong start, and Ale Bedoya’s club now stares down a match-up with Monaco.

  15. Cardiff City calls for resignation of LMA chief over Mackay statement

    Aug 22, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT

    cardiff_city

    Labeling vile statements in text messages “friendly banter” has Cardiff in a frenzy, and looking for fresh consequences.

  16. WATCH: Arsène Wenger talks Everton, final buys, Balotelli ahead of trip to Goodison Park

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:50 AM EDT

    FC Bayern Muenchen v Arsenal - UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Getty Images

    Arseanl boss calls Everton an important test while praising Liverpool’s impending acquisition.

  17. Balotelli flies to Liverpool for medical, but won’t play against Man City

    Aug 22, 2014, 8:16 AM EDT

    AC Milan v Ajax Amsterdam - UEFA Champions League Getty Images

    The Reds were still sorting out Balotelli’s personality and commitment, and missed a deadline to have him play for the club this weekend.

  18. Georgios Samaras makes the move from Celtic to West Bromwich Albion

    Aug 22, 2014, 7:36 AM EDT

    West Brom West Brom

    The 29-year-old Greek national teamer will try to rebuild his Premier League image after tough times in Manchester from 2006-08.

  19. PST’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings – The Benefit of Mid-Week Edition

    Aug 22, 2014, 2:13 AM EDT

    joao_plata AP

    LA’s loss is RSL’s gain at the top of our pecking order.

  20. Torres in, Hernández and Jiménez out for Mexico matches against Chile, Bolivia

    Aug 21, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 3: Erick Torres #9 of Chivas USA celebrates after scoring a goal against the Houston Dynamo on May 3, 2014 at StubHub Center in Los Angeles, California. Getty Images

    “Cubo” gets his first call from Miguel Herrera, while two established names stay in Europe.

Featured video

Wenger on Everton-Arsenal, NBC, 12pm