Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rocked Robben Reveals That the Desperate Dutch Were Not United

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Rocked Robben Reveals That the Desperate Dutch Were Not United

Article excerpt

Byline: Marco Giacomelli

[bar] RJEN ROBBEN revealed today that divisions in the Dutch squad undermined their dismal Euro 2012 campaign.

The former Chelsea winger spoke out after a double from Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo consigned Holland to a 2-1 defeat, sending them home from the finals with three defeats from three games.

Holland arrived in Ukraine as one of the favourites for the tournament after finishing runners-up at the 2010 World Cup and hitting 37 goals in qualifying.

But cracks appeared from the start with outbursts from several players hinting at discord among a squad with a historical reputation for feuding and in-fighting.

Rafael Van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar both complained about being left out of the starting line-up. Robben reacted petulantly to his substitution during the 1-0 loss to Germany and now concedes that all was not well behind the scenes.

"Things happened in the squad but we'll keep that between us," said the Bayern Munich man. "We lost three times. It's a difficult thing to accept.

"We have to dare to look at ourselves in the mirror: we all failed. It's hard to find explanations.

"Sometimes things are impossible to explain. Against Portugal, we started well but we quickly forgot to keep developing our play."

In Kharkiv last night, the Dutch took the lead after only 11 minutes when Robben slipped the ball through to Van der Vaart and the Tottenham forward superbly curled his left-foot shot just inside the post.

Man-of-the-match Ronaldo hit the post soon after then opened the scoring just before the half-hour mark when he met Joao Pereira's astute pass with a perfectly timed run to fire past Maarten Stekelenburg.

The former Manchester United man sealed matters 14 minutes time when he finished off a sweeping counterattack by cutting inside his marker to blast the ball home.

Holland needed to win by at least two goals to have a chance of going through and Van der Vaart blamed nerves for his side coming up short.

"We had some great chances at the beginning but Portugal are a strong team," he said. "And if you need to score two goals, you need to create more chances.

"I knew it would be difficult. We had to score two goals. We started off really well and got one but we knew we had to score another, so we got nervous.

"After our first goal, Portugal began to play very well, and we didn't. We all played badly; we all have to take a good, long look in the mirror. All we can say is that it's sad for our supporters.

"We lost all confidence after losing the first game against Denmark, and so against Portugal we knew it could go wrong, and so it did. We have to start all over again."

The manner of Holland's exit will inevitably lead to questions over the future of coach Bert van Marwijk, particularly as there have been criticisms over the team's style of play. …

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