June 24th, 2004 • 12:38 am
The final day of the first round brought confirmation of what most people suspected, i.e. that Germany really didn’t have what they needed to go any farther in the competition, and that Latvia didn’t really have what they needed to be in the competition in the first place.
The Germany defeat is especially embarrassing in light of the fact that the Czechs, who had already secured the group’s top spot, had fielded what was essentially a reserve team. But reserve players have something to prove (that they deserve to be included in the first team) and that’s not necessarily a good thing for the opposition, as Germany just found out.
Whether Holland have what it takes is another matter… Their 3-0 win against Latvia was outrageously one-sided, but they still needed a somewhat dubious penalty to open the score, and there was nothing particularly impressive about their finish.
But they are through, and it will be interesting to see how well the Swedes do against them in the quarter-finals. Holland could very well turn out to be to this tournament what Germany was to the 2002 World Cup, i.e. a team that nobody really saw as favourites but that still managed to go all the way to the final.