Some thoughts on Holland - Denmark of yesterday. Because it wasn't a match worth writing a lot about. The Dutch disappointed with their display but got the result anyway. The Danes were strong enough to keep the Dutch from scoring for 46 minutes, but too weak to create any major opportunities for themselves.
On Sunday I wrote about how much I hoped for the Dutch to play one of their magical games again, which in that case would have been the first good match at the World Cup. As I was writing this on Sunday afternoon, I couldn't know how well the Germans would play and how dull the Holland match would be. After seeing the rest of the matches including Brasil - North Korea this evening, it seems like the Germans are taking home the price of entertaining the world the most, at least for this first round.
Returning to the Holland match, I never had the idea that we were in danger of being beaten by the Danish and I was quite confident about the ability of the Dutch to, at least at one point, convert an opportunity. In the end we needed some help from the Danes, with the really lucky opening goal by Poulsen. Denmark was also really helpful with the 2-0 by Dirk Kuyt, as Poulsen again did everything wrong; forgetting to continue to mark Kuyt, who subsequently was first to the ball to convert Elia's rebound. Holland created some decent chances after that and should have made a third goal, but they weren't deserving.
In general, I am more than pleased with the Dutch performance. The ease with which Holland was able to control the match after the 1-0 was a major pluspoint, showing that Holland might just be able to play on result as well instead of only display. In addition, we finally won a match in which we played not so well, while also not showing all of our ability in the first match. Thinking back on Euro 2008, in which we dazzled everybody in the first two matches but subsequently lost to Russia in the quarter finals, I prefer for Holland to grow into the tournament and only start playing well come the second round.
With Japan winning the match against the infinitely disappointing Cameroonians, Group E is wide-open. Normally, Holland should be able to win against Japan, but they will have to put some serious effort in it against the hard-working and dynamic Japanese. The race for second place is highly interesting if Holland would indeed win against Japan. Either Denmark or Cameroon, or both, would be in a perfect position to steal second spot from the Japanese.