Before the much anticipated beginning of Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine, there were 3 names on everyone's lips; Germany, Spain and the Netherlands. These 3 had genuine chances of going all the way, or so we thought.
Now merely 10 days after the start of the tournament, Bert Van Marwijk's Dutch side have crashed out with 3 straight defeats and a whole host of in fighting to boot.
It isn't what anybody expected, The Oranje's attacking talents are renowned across world football; Sneijder, Robben, Van Persie, Huntelaar, Affelay, Van der Vaart, Kuyt are all unceremoniously heading back to Amsterdam with accusing glances at everyone else and a -3 goal difference.
The World Cup runners up were the highest scoring team in qualifiers, something that boded well as they headed into a tournament with a reputation to restore after the somewhat physical and direct approach that Van Marwijk employed in South Africa.
In their opening game against Denmark in Kharkiv, the Dutch were wasteful, failing to score despite having 29 attempts on the Danish goal. Their opponents weren't so wasteful, scoring 1 of their 9 efforts and winning the game 1-0 after Michael Krohn Delhi's goal in the 24th minute.
The next game, quite simply, was big. Germany, their arch rivals, awaited Van Marwijk's Oranje knowing that a victory would push the Netherlands even closer to an unlikely exit. In true German fashion they did just that winning the game 2-1 with a brace from Mario Gomez.
What the Republic of Ireland and Sweden would do to be heading into a meaningful final group game, despite losing their first 2 matches, is up for speculation. What is for sure, however, is that the Netherlands still had a, albeit unlikely, chance of reaching the last 8.
Surely now we would see a motivated, switched on Dutch outfit? No, apparently not. Instead Arjen Robben said the team had too many egos, before a Cristiano Ronaldo inspired Portugal outplayed Van Persie and co to win 2-1 and reach the quarter finals themselves.
A terrible tournament for the Netherlands who now look likely to change and managers and, on this evidence, a change of emphasis may be needed as well.
Over and out, just like the Oranje. Here's a brief reminder of what the Dutch were/are capable of.