The Dutch plan is not working, and Wesley Sneijder knows it. Bert van Marwijk, the manager, has his team set up for results, but after two defeats so far, they need a big win against Portugal for any hope of progress. According to Sneijder, only the Netherlands' attacking traditions can save them.
"We know that our game needs to improve," said Sneijder, comfortably the Netherlands' best performer so far. "We need to get our routines on the pitch back, the things we are used to, the courage to play."
To finish second in Group B, the Netherlands need to beat Portugal by at least two goals and have Germany beat Denmark. Sneijder hopes that this situation forces a more attacking outlook. "Maybe in that last game, because we know we have to win it, there'll be no other chance," said the Internazionale midfielder. "It's all or nothing on Sunday and perhaps we can bring our own football back in that game."
The problem for the Netherlands is that their system is not even efficient. They conceded a soft goal against Denmark last Saturday, and on Wednesday night Germany could easily pass through them.
Arjen Robben, who did not take his substitution during that 2-1 defeat well, bemoaned the collapse in what, at the least, used to be a well-drilled unit.
"There is no cohesion between our lines, there are gaps and we are not connecting and then it is very difficult to recover the ball," Robben pointed out.
"At the moment we are not steady as a team, like we were two years ago, and there is not one area to blame. We failed as a team."
The result is that the Netherlands are relying on Germany to do them a favour. If that game is a draw, then Van Marwijk's men will be powerless.
"Now we have to hope that Germany will do their duty against the Danes and we have to avenge our first two defeats, and hope," Robben said. "We are not in control now and that doesn't feel good."
Van Marwijk may well bring in Rafael van der Vaart or Klaas-Jan Huntelaar for the game on Sunday night. But the Dutch coach revealed a clear frustration at the lack of new options open to him: "The last two years, we as technical staff spent a lot of time to see if there are fresh names for this team, but they have to be available."