Opinion: And then there is soccer

POSTED: 06/14/12 12:40 PM

Yep, and then there is soccer. Obviously the Netherlands, aptly depicted as arrogance tulips in the Danish press after their first blooper in the European championship, did not make it against Germany either.

But not everything is lost, if you have to believe the optimists in the Dutch sports press. You see, if the Netherlands beats Portugal later this week with at least 2-0 and if the Danes lose to Germany, the Netherlands would still emerge from the group stage as the number two and move on to the quarter finals.

That’s only two ifs but they are big ones. Let’s start with Portugal. Of the last ten encounters between the two teams, including friendlies, the Netherlands won only once. Portugal won 6 times and three matches ended in a draw. The last victory dates back almost twenty years, to October 16, 1991 when Richard Witschge scored a lone goal in a qualification match for the European championship. Now, the Dutch need two goals at least, or they’re doomed. The only time they managed two goals against Portugal was on March 18, 2011 in a qualification match for the World Cup. It was in Porto, but the team gave a 0-2 edge away by conceding two goals in the second half.

Such a bad record would give statisticians probably reason to assume that based on the laws of probability it is now the turn for the Netherlands to defy the odds and outscore the Portuguese big time. Who knows? We’re not statisticians, nor do we belong to the elite group of 17 million soccer experts in the Netherlands – so we prefer to just wait and see what will happen.

Then the record of Denmark against the Germans. Of the last ten matches between the two countries, Denmark won just three. Seven of these ten  matches were friendlies. The Danish victories came at the world cup in Mexico in 1986, the European Championship in 1992 (which Denmark won), and in a friendly twelve years ago in Copenhagen. Only one match ended in a draw and Germany won six times. Based on these historical data there is a 60 percent chance that Denmark will not win a point against Germany.

But with Portugal looming as a true Angstgegner for the Netherlands, the result of Germany-Denmark seems to be the least of their worries.

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