Bert van Marwijk
Netherlands coach Bert van Marwijk is under huge pressure heading into his country's do-or-die contest with Portugal. Reuters

When and where: The Group B encounter kicks-off from the Metalist Stadium in Kharkiv, Ukraine, at 2.45 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by ESPN, with a live stream available on ESPN3.

Preview: Incredibly, after two defeats, large question marks over the coach and consternation within the squad, the Netherlands could still take a most unlikely place in the quarter-finals of Euro 2012.

Coming in as one of the tournament favorites, the Dutch suffered a surprise opening loss to Denmark before fading badly after a promising start to fall to defeat against Germany. While the likes of Arjen Robben have been short of their best in Poland and the Ukraine, many of the Dutch problems should not be all that surprising.

The Netherlands' weak spot for some time has been at the back and this time around it has been crudely exposed. Already limited in defense, coach Bert van Marwijk's options were further hampered by the absence of Joris Mathijsen for the first match. But his subsequent return did little to aid matters against Germany, with 18-year-old left-back Jetro Willems looking particularly exposed.

The defense has been protected in recent times by the double barrier of Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong in the midfield, but captain Van Bommel looked badly off the pace as he twice allowed Bastian Schweinsteiger to saunter into space and set-up both of Germany's goals.

With a victory by two goals needed, in combination with a Germany win, Van Marwijk may finally decide to make changes. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar could well come in for Ibrahim Affelay, though it appears less likely that Rafael van der Vaart will replace one of the under-fire central midfielders.

Such is the unpredictable, closely-fought nature of this group that Portugal could lose tonight and still go through and yet they could also win and go out. The likelihood is that victory should see them make the last eight, while a draw would be enough if Denmark fails to beat Germany. In a nail-biting scenario that no-one in Portugal would relish, they would also go through with a one goal defeat if Denmark lose.

All very straight-forward then.

That Portugal has so many permutations with which they can progress is thanks to Silvestre Varela's late winner against Denmark. It could have all been very different for Paulo Bento's side. After gaining a two-goal lead, Cristiano Ronaldo missed two gilt-edge opportunities to put the game beyond doubt and the Danes looked to have made him pay the ultimate price with a brace from Nicklas Bendtner.

Varela not only saved his nation's chances, but he also prevented the already huge pressure on Ronaldo from perhaps being intolerable.

Still, Portugal is going to require much-improved performances from their talisman if they are to go much further in these European Championships.

Portugal (probable)

G: Rui Patricio

D: Pereira, Pepe, Alves, Coentrao

M: Meireles, Veloso, Moutinho

F: Nani, Postiga, Ronaldo


G: Stekelenburg

D: Van der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen, Willems

M: De Jong, Van Bommel

Robben, Van Perise, Sneijder

F: Huntelaar

Prediction: Featuring two teams with some outstanding individuals, but with glaring weaknesses and a general lack of cohesion, this is an unpredictable matchup.

While, for different reasons Ronaldo and Varela grabbed the headlines against the Danes, it was Nani who was the star of the show. He was at the heart of almost everything positive for his side, creating chances aplenty. If Van Marwijk keeps faith with Willems then the Manchester United winger will be relishing the prospect of going up against the inexperienced left-back.

The outcome will depend on large part, though, on whether the Dutch turn up eager to make the most of a second chance, or still lamenting the failures that have landed them in the hole. History suggests it will be the latter and there will not be any great escape, however there could be some fireworks along the way.

Portugal 2-1 Netherlands