The opening day of the European Championship may have proven that Group A isn’t such a dud after all, but that doesn’t change the fact that today the tournament’s real contenders begin their quest for the Henri Delaunay Trophy.
In our first match one of a few pre-tournament favorites, the Netherlands, takes on past champions Denmark in the opener for the so-called “Group of Death”.The Netherlands qualified for Poland-Ukraine with ease out of a favorable group. Denmark too topped their qualifying group, over fellow Group B side Portugal no less.
But the Danes are limited offensively. That’s a diplomatic way of saying that they often start Nicky ‘Pinkboots’ Bendtner as a lone striker.
Their strength lies in the center of the pitch and in good defensive organization. They’ll have to stay true to form if they have any hope of dealing with the combined assault of Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie and a whole host of Dutch attacking talent.
I get seriously geeked out for international football. I don’t care how nice it is outside, I don’t plan on seeing the sun for several hours.
Join me here for my Euro imposed house arrest at 12:00 PM ET and again at 2:45 PM.
Lineups and match commentary for Netherlands v. Denmark, after the jump!
Netherlands Lineup: Stekelenburg; Van Der Wiel, Heitinga, Vlaar, Willems; De Jong, Van Bommel; Robben, Sneijder, Afellay; Van Persie
Denmark Lineup: Andersen; Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, S. Poulsen; Jorgensen, Eriksen, Zimling; Rommedahl, Bendtner, Krohn-Dehli
Pregame: It’s breakfast, it’s breakfast ti-ime!
Pregame: Both teams look to emphasize offense with these line-ups. Denmark’s inclusion of Rommedahl is a real signal of intent. Netherlands have Van Bommel and De Jong to anchor them though. Who will play that role for the Danes?
Pregame: Thank God for a noon kickoff. I can drink during the match without feeling too much shame.
Pregame: So Alexi Lalas is allowed to say “red-headed stepchild” on TV, but I bet Bob Ley would get shit for it.
Pregame: Roberto Martinez sighting!
Pregame: “There is a Lovely Land” is the name of Denmark’s national anthem. How pleasant.
Pregame: Netherlands’ national anthem “The Will.I.Am.” is an ode to the nation’s favorite American music.
And we’re off!
1st Minute: De Jong foul. Wow. Couldn’t have scripted it any better.
2nd Minute: Agger gives Stekelenburg something to think about. Flicked header saved comfortably.
3rd Minute: Pressure from the Dutch now. Shot drilled high by Willems.
5th Minute: Dutch almost pull off creative play after a deflection. Shot wide in the end.
7th Minute: Well Van Persie should have scored there. Wide open about 8 yards out and just screws it wide.
9th Minute: Eriksen fires harmlessly into the wall. Free kick was in a decent position.
10th Minute: Afellay shoots over after a good run. The Dutch are knocking at the door now. Owning the ball.
11th Minute: Van Persie and Sneijder nearly connect on a long ball, just to0 high for the Inter man.
13th Minute: Dangerous free kick for Holland.
14th Minute: Weak shot into the wall. Eventually out for a Dutch corner. And then a blast over by Van Bommel.
17th Minute: Rommedahl with his first action. Sprints to the line and crosses straight to Stekelenburg. Got in behind for the first time though.
18th Minute: Great play from Robben leads to a deep run into the box. He elects to pass and Andersen collects on a deflection.
21st Minute: Strong claim by Andersen from a Sneijder corner.
23rd Minute: The Dutch are outclassing the Danes. Van Persie collects deep in the box and again drags his shot wide. Tougher effort on the spin that time.
24th Minute: GOAL!!! And it’s Denmark!!! Krohn-Dehli with a strong run into the box and blasts in through big Stekelnburgs legs from a tight angle! Totally against the run of play. Wow. 0-1.
26th Minute: I have a feeling that goal was really positive for this game. We’re in for a good one.
32nd Minute: Wow. That is some ridiculous Northern European eyewear on display from both coaching benches.
36th Minute: Off the post! Robben collects a terrible clearance by Andersen and almost punishes the Danish keeper.
39th Minute: Afellay with more great movement before hitting just over. As Adrian Healey said, “so nearly brilliant.”
40th Minute: Well Zimling and Krohn-Dehli just get in each other’s way on a tantalizing ball into the box.
42nd Minute: Krohn-Dehli tests Stekelenburg with a low drive. Good stretch from the keeper.
43rd Minute: Terrible first touch by RVP really lessens the quality of his chance. Andersen comes out stong and blocks.
45th Minute: Danish corner again collected low by Stekelenburg. Ball last hit off Bendtner.
HT – Netherlands 0 – Denmark 1
Well the Netherlands have their work cut out for them. Krohn-Dehli’s 24th minute strike put Denmark on top and the Danes kept the quality chances from their opponents to a minimum. The Dutch just missing a finishing edge.
Neither side has used a substitution. Here are the benches since I didn’t include them earlier:
Netherlands: Vorm, Mathijsen, Bouma, Kuyt, Huntelaar, Schaars, Strootman, Luuk De Jong, Narsingh, Boulahrouz, Van der Vaart, Krul
Denmark: Lindegaard, Christian Poulsen, Bjelland, Okore, Schone, Silberbauer, Pedersen, Wass, Jakob Poulsen, Kahlenberg, Mikkelsen, Schmeichel
HT – Must also say I am enjoying the commentary team of Healey and Mustoe.
The studio team? Not so much.
About to kickoff the second half. The Dutch have got to wake up in this half. Still think we could be in for a thrill here.
46th Minute: And we’re off. No subs to report still.
47th Minute: Netherlands applying pressure early. Wonder how long until we see Huntelaar?
50th Minute: Another chance gone awry for Van Persie. He gets another quickly but it’s not strong enough to beat Andersen.
51st Minute: Van Bommel rockets a long distance shot that Andersen just gets enough of!
52nd Minute: And Afellay inches wide! He’s been the best Dutch player for me.
53rd Minute: Another corner for Holland. And another, headed over powerfully by Heitinga. Really taking it to Denmark now.
54th Minute: A rare Danish excursion into the Dutch box results in a corner. Good play from Poulsen. Corner comes to nothing.
57th Minute: What happens to Dutch fans when they struggle to score in international tournaments?
60th Minute: Andersen claims another corner well. He’s been mostly effective filling in for the injured Sorensen. Minus one bad giveaway.
62nd Minute: Heitinga offsides on free kick chance.
63rd Minute: Robben bangs it wide with his five-head. The Dutch still missing that killer ball. Most of their chances have been pretty difficult. Credit to the Danish defense.
67th Minute: Yellow card for Van Bommel. Van der Vaart and Huntelaar about to come on.
69th Minute: Danish corner cleared well. Denmark enjoying only very sporadic possession.
70th Minute: Krohn-Dehli again tests Stekelenburg.
And here come the Dutch subs: De Jong off for Van der Vaart, and Afellay makes way for Huntelaar.
72nd Minute: I don’t agree with removing Afellay. He’s been bright. RVP or Robben should be off.
73rd Minute: Van der Vaart starting energetically. Forces a corner and then blasts wide.
Denmark Sub: Eriksen of for Lasse Schone.
74th Minute: CHANCE! Huntelaar collects a beuatiful ball from Sneijder but Andersen comes out bravely and makes two stops! The second from RVP on the follow-up. The keeper was hurt in that little scramble.
76th Minute: Andersen is OK to continue. Stekelenburg has to be quick off his line to snuff out a long ball.
81st Minute: The Danes doing their best to slow this game down now. They’re going to force the Dutch to break them down.
84th Minute: Denmark Sub: Rommedahl out for Mikkelson
Netherlands Sub: Van der Wiel makes way for Kuyt. Bork!
88th Minute: Little urgency from a very disappointing Dutch side. The edge has gone out of this game nearly completely.
89th Minute: Handball shout in the box from the Dutch. Not given. Denmark kill more time.
90th Minute: 3 minutes of added time. Corner for the Dutch.
92nd Minute: Flicked header from RVP goes over, hitting the roof of the net.
FT – It’s all over! Big upset! Denmark win it 1-0. The Danes played well but the Netherlands just never looked like winning it. Their campaign takes a huge blow.
Thanks for joining me folks. I’ll be right back at 2:45 PM ET for Portugal v. Germany!