If you had any doubts that something was wrong with the Netherlands football team, they were compounded after defeat to Denmark over the weekend. If you still thought it was just one bad loss and that one of the pre-tournament favourites would bounce back, then you missed Wesley Sneijder's strong comments before the game against Germany on Wednesday.
"It is time we let these pathetic egos go. If somebody is creating a mess, I will stand up against them now ... We have to stop living on little islands. We must all go for the same goal, be united or face the consequences." Something is really wrong inside the Dutch camp for a player of Sneijder's class to speak like that.
Statistically, the fact that a team like Holland – with four attacking players – has scored just one goal is shocking. In both the matches so far, Holland's defence has proven woefully ineffective, especially in the 2-1 defeat to Germany. There was clearly no defensive cohesion between the back four and midfield, and once Mario Gomez scored in the first half, the Dutch were left to play catch-up. There were massive gaps between the centre-backs and outside defenders, which Gomez exploited for goals in the 24th and 38 minutes with clinical efficiency. This wasn't the football of a hugely talented football team.
This was an extention of Holland's problems in their tournament opener, but things were much worse. Against Denmark, Netherlands appeared in control of proceedings at the start, but once Michael Krohn Dehli netted a late finish after 24 minutes, it was a downward spiral. Holland were poor in front of the goal and especially wasteful during the second half, their performance epitomised by the labouring Robin van Persie, who showed none of the killer instinct from his stellar 37-goal season with Arsenal.
It was always going to be tough for Bert van Marwijk's men to turn it around in four days before they played a strong German outfit, but the manner in which they took the field was disappointing. This was a grumpy, disorganised bunch of footballers on the field. You can tell a lot from a team's body language, and something was wrong with the Dutch. The disharmony was that palpable.
Van Marwijk had warned his rivals at Euro 2012 – the team was drawn into the tournament's Group of Death, featuring archrivals Germany, Portugal and Denmark – that the Oranje intended on playing attacking football. Marwijk and his team copped criticism for their guarded style of play at the 2010 World Cup, at which they reached the final, but the coach has vowed to come onto the offensive. However, this has not been the case at all. In two games so far, the team has clearly lacked an identity. That same guarded style of play that took Holland to the World Cup final has backfired at the Euros, and it appears this has taken its toll on the players. The creativity and resilience that Holland showed in South Africa two years ago is absent, and that a team brimming with outrageous talent and technical prowess is now on the doorstep of being eliminated from Euro 2012 is a worrying thought.
Next up is Portugal for Holland, a team that has been decidedly under-par in the competition too. Netherlands can still qualify for the quarter-finals if they beat Portugal by two goals or more - and if Germany beat Denmark in the final group match - but on current form, it's hard to see them doing so.