So that's it, the Netherlands are out of UEFA EURO 2012 – a rude awakening for everyone with an Oranje heart. After they arrived at the tournament as one of the favourites, expectations once again proved too high for Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and Co.
As ever, the nation was gripped by Oranje fever. Houses, streets and supermarkets were decked out in the country's favourite colour. The 10,000 or so fans who travelled to the team's base in Krakow, as well as those at the matches in Kharkiv, made quite an impact on the local communities, spreading the Oranje vibe wherever they roamed.
Unfortunately, things just didn't work out on the pitch. Despite 28 attempts on goal against Denmark, somehow the team's opening game resulted in a 1-0 defeat. In the second match, Germany managed to exploit a lack of Dutch unity. The attack, midfield and defence seemed disjointed, almost mutually exclusive of one another.
The coach, Bert van Marwijk, told me that the feeling of invincibility gained when they reached the FIFA World Cup final two years ago had somehow slipped away. From that loss to the Danes onwards, the Netherlands were always chasing the rest.
Yet in spite of the disappointment on the field, I leave Krakow and Poland with a host of positive memories. The people of Krakow have been incredibly friendly, the city itself is beautiful and, on a professional note, the Netherlands press department were a joy to work with. As ever, the coach and players were a constant delight. Whenever we had an interview scheduled, it took place on time and with a smile.
Ultimately it's results that matter at major tournaments and the Dutch will look back on UEFA EURO 2012 as a failure. I can only emphasise what a shame it is to be out of the championship so soon, but I suppose all I can do is begin looking forward to the next one and bid Krakow a fond farewell.
Goodbye, Poland, you were great!
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