It was billed as the Group of Death and, according to even Rafael van der Vaart, it is Holland who are already staring over the Euro 2012 precipice. "We need two wins," said Van der Vaart. "We just have to beat Germany now on Wednesday. This will be like a final for us."
It is one of the beauties and cruelties of the European Championship in its 16-team format that a favourite can disappear so quickly, often on nothing more than a moment of misfortune. Holland were partially authors of their own demise against Denmark on Saturday, but a post-match sense of shock -- and injustice -- among the players was justified. The final shots tally read 27-5 in their favour and they had two good penalty appeals turned down.
"If you miss your chances, you can't win a match," said Van der Vaart.
"They had one chance, maybe two, and scored. It is a shock, especially as we are in a difficult group, but if we beat Germany the confidence will come back."
Everton defender John Heitinga described Denmark's victory, sealed with Michael Krohn-Dehli's assured finish, as "a miracle". He added: "Look at how many chances we created. There is no way Denmark deserved to win.
"We know now we have to win both games to stay in the tournament. You could tell in the changing room after the game. Everyone was silent."
Denmark deserved rather more credit as their containing game plan was well executed.
A question-mark hovers over Robin van Persie's starting place, not just because he was profligate in his finishing but due to the quality of back-up striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar. The expectation is Netherlands manager Bert van Marwijk will persist with Van Persie against Germany.
"We have to win -- everyone can see that," said Van Marwijk. (© Daily Telegraph, London)