The Netherlands really shouldn't have problems in front of goal, given the pedigree of attacking talent in Bert van Marwijk's Euro 2012 squad. But, following Saturday's surprise 1-0 defeat at the hands of Denmark in the opening game of Group B, there is already a feeling that something needs to change.

After watching the Oranje Army create 28 attempts on goal and put only eight of those chances on target, it does not take a tactical genius to work out that the difficulty lies not in the supply line, more the end product.

It's an issue that needs addressing immediately, and fixing promptly, if Holland are to avoid an early flight home from Poland and Ukraine this summer.

Having passed up the opportunity to register any points on the board in what was widely regarded as the easiest of their three 'Group of Death' games, Van Marwijk's players now know they face two must-win fixtures to ensure progression to the quarter-finals. Defeat against Germany on Wednesday will confirm a first phase exit.

"We have to win twice now to progress - we have to, that's a clear mission," said Tottenham midfielder Rafael van der Vaart, who appeared as a second half substitute against Denmark.

"We really have to go for it now. If we had won then we knew a draw against Germany would mean we were already doing well, but now we have to win twice."

After Van Marwijk opted to leave Klaas-Jan Huntelaar - the continent's top scorer in qualifying with 12 goals in eight games - on the bench until 19 minutes from the end, the Netherlands coach is under increasing pressure to start the Schalke striker against the Germans, particularly after the ineffective and wasteful display of Robin van Persie, who was picked to lead the line ahead of his fellow 28-year-old.

The Van Persie or Huntelaar conundrum is born out of the current Dutch system which utilises only one out-and-out striker, with three players attacking from wider and deeper positions. But, let's not forget that the pairing together is by no means incompatible either, even in Van Marwijk's preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

When they played together in qualifying, Van Persie moved out to a wider role, cutting in from the left flank, leaving Huntelaar as the central striker.

It's a switch that many see as the obvious option, with Huntelaar better suited to the sole centre-forward role, as Van Persie's tendency to move outside the box - either out wide or deep towards midfield - often leaves a gaping hole as the Netherlands burst forward in attack.

Huntelaar is a classic goal poacher, as his 48 goals in 47 appearances for Schalke in 2011-12 would suggest. But, he also offers a lot more from the other aspects of his game, with his work-rate and link-up play often taken for granted.
 


Former Dutch international, Adri van Tiggelen, who was part of the Netherlands' Euro 1988 title-winning squad, has called for sweeping changes to be implemented, not just in attack, but to the whole system, which currently favours the inclusion of two defensive midfielders in Nigel De Jong and Mark van Bommel.

"I guess it is about time that Klaas-Jan Huntelaar starts up front, I am kind of fed up with Robin van Persie," he told NUSport. "It is a fact he did an amazing job at Arsenal this season, but his performances have been heavily disappointing in the Netherlands national team.

"Besides, we have two defensive midfielders who are hardly involved in attack. If Denmark benefited from that, Germany and Portugal will definitely do it as well."

There are also growing fears of discontent inside the Holland camp after it was announced yesterday by the Dutch Football Federation that Huntelaar would be the only player from the 23-man squad missing from a planned meeting with the nation's press on Monday.

In that meeting, Wesley Sneijder, who was arguably the Netherlands' standout performer against Denmark, reflected "painfully" on the defeat to Morten Olsen's side, and called on his teammates to not make the same mistake tomorrow, and take their chances when they face Germany.

"The only positive thing we can take out of this match is that we played really well at times and created lots of chances," he said. "[But] dominating the match isn't enough.

"If you truly dominate a match, you don't let your opponents get into it and you put your chances away. We started well [against Denmark], in the opening 20 minutes we should have scored a couple and then everything would have been fine.

"We could maybe even have then racked up more. But instead the first goal fell at the other end, and we spent the rest of the game trying to repair the damage. We left empty handed."

Sneijder added: "We'll also create chances against Germany - that's our strength - but they have to be converted or it's over for us."

The selection headache that Van Marwijk is facing with regards to who to deploy against Joachim Low's side, is not a bad problem to have remember - deciding between the top scorers from the Premier League and the Bundesliga.

Providing Holland can find a balance that combines the movement and style of Van Persie, with the prowess and potency of Huntelaar, there is no reason why both players shouldn't play a part in helping one of the pre-tournament favourites beat the Germans, and get their Euro 2012 campaign back on track.

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