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Outnumbered but unbowed

Published: Wednesday 30 June 2004, 12.01CET
The Netherlands are preparing for their first 'away' match of the UEFA EURO 2004™ finals as they take on hosts Portugal at the Estádio José Alvalade in tonight's semi-final.
by Berend Scholten
from Lisbon
 
Published: Wednesday 30 June 2004, 12.01CET

Outnumbered but unbowed

The Netherlands are preparing for their first 'away' match of the UEFA EURO 2004™ finals as they take on hosts Portugal at the Estádio José Alvalade in tonight's semi-final.

The Netherlands are preparing for their first 'away' match of UEFA EURO 2004™ as they take on Portugal in the semi-finals tonight.

Home support
The Dutch have felt at home in their four games so far with the stadiums dominated by bright orange. However, against the hosts at the Estádio José Alvalade, coach Dick Advocaat is aware the 'Oranje' will not have things their own way in terms of support.

Balance changed
"I am not too worried about the home advantage," said Advocaat. "We have a very experienced team, who are used to these situations, so that is no problem for us. Normally the stadiums are 66 per cent full of our fans, and it has been like playing at home, but now it will be the other way around. But maybe the Portuguese red will look the same in the stadium as our orange," he said.

Team game
The coach also made it clear that reaching the final would not be a personal triumph over those who had previously criticised him. He said: "I do not have a point to prove at all. I coached the national team at the [1994 FIFA] World Cup in the United States. It is important for a small country like the Netherlands to get to the final and win it. But that has nothing to do with me personally. We have been working together as a team for the past two years, so it will be the whole team who will have done this."

Young talent
Looking to the match, Advocaaat is particularly taken by the similarities between Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo and his Dutch counterpart Arjen Robben, who after slow starts have set the tournament alight. "Ronaldo and Robben are pretty much in the same situation," he said. "At first neither started but once they came in, they have done really well. It would be going too far, though, to say the success of both countries is down to them. It is going to be an interesting game between two good sides."

 
Last updated: 30/06/04 12.59CET

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