Cristiano Ronaldo
Portugal will be desperately hoping for a big performance from their captain and talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo, in their vital clash with Holland Reuters

The Portuguese will be eager to make the Dutch the first high-profile casualty of the 2012 European Championships, when the two sides face each other in the final round of games for Group B.


Despite losing both games so far, Bert van Marwijk and his side can still, amazingly, pull of a miraculous escape from early elimination. The Dutch must beat Portugal and hope their early tormentors, Denmark, lose to group leaders Germany in the other game.

Paulo Bento's men, on the other hand, have an easier equation to remember. They need only draw against Holland (assuming Germany do beat Denmark, which is very likely). However, should Denmark spring a surprise as they did against Holland, Real Madrid star forward Cristiano Ronaldo must ensure his side wins their third game.

Team News and Tactics:

Holland: The Dutch have no choice but to press forward and create as many chances as possible. Coach van Marwijk, who has no injury concerns for this tie, will continue his 4-2-3-1 formation but could introduce a host of changes in the starting line-up. The Bundesliga's top scorer, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, must surely start as central striker and Arsenal captain Robin van Persie be moved to the second striker's position. The Gunner seemed more composed and dangerous when he dropped deeper, in the second half of the Dutchmen's game against Germany and even scored his side's consolation goal from that position. The inclusion of Schalke's Huntelaar should also mean Inter Milan star Wesley Sneijder will shift to the left and Barcelona's Ibrahim Afellay dropping to the bench.

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben's unimpressive performances and petulant reaction to being substituted, in the game against Germany, could cost him his place. Fenerbahce-bound Liverpool forward Dirk Kuyt is understood to be under consideration for the role on the right, while several fans' polls demand that Luciano Narsingh start ahead of both Robben and Kuyt. The 21 year old winger, who is a target for several big clubs, has a refreshingly direct style of play and plenty of pace to trouble the Portuguese back line.

However, the biggest concern for Marwijk is central midfield. The coach had to take off captain and son-in-law Mark van Bommel at half-time against the Germans to accommodate Tottenham Hotspur playmaker Rafael van der Vaart. The coach's decision to start two defensive midfielders in van Bommel and Manchester City's Nigel de Jong in the last two games has come under a lot of criticism, even from the country's legendary footballing icon Johan Cruyff. Spurs' van der Vaart will be the favourite for a place if one of the holding midfielders is benched, while PSV Eindhoven's Kevin Strootman also remains an interesting option.

Portugal: The Portuguese will surely look to keep their calm, defend deep and then hit Holland on the counter. Bento, who also has a fully fit squad, will most probably retain the 4-3-3 formation and the same squad that beat Denmark 3-2 in their last game. This means midfielders Miguel Veloso of Genoa and Chelsea's Raul Meireles will sit in front of the back four, allowing Porto's Joao Moutinho to support captain Ronaldo and Manchester United's Nani in attack. The performance of Ronaldo, in particular, will come under the spotlight, after he missed two easy scoring chances against Denmark. The forward has been in superlative form for his club this season but has failed to translate that into goals for his country. Helder Postiga scored in the last game and should keep his place ahead of Nelson Oliveira and Hugo Almeida as the lone centre forward.


  • Portugal have won six and drawn three of their last 10 games against Holland
  • The Dutch have not defeated the Portuguese since 1991
  • Holland had never lost two group matches in the European Championships before this campaign
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, Fabio Coentrao, Raul Meireles, Helder Postiga, Mark van Bommel, Nigel de Jong and Jetro Willems are all a booking away from suspension

Probable starting line-up:

Holland (4-2-3-1): Stekelenberg; van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Willems; de Jong, van der Vaart; Robben, van Persie, Sneijder; Huntelaar

Portugal (4-3-3): Patricio; Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao; Meireles, Veloso, Moutinho; Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo

Where to Watch Live:

You can follow the game live from 7.15 pm BST on iTV 1 and iTV 1 HD, as well as BBC Radio 5 live and the official UEFA Web site. You can also catch highlights on BBC One and the BBC Sport Web site.