Tetchy Holland boss Bert van Marwijk has refused to reveal whether captain Mark van Bommel would start the do-or-die clash with Portugal.
The Dutch are on the brink of a humiliating exit from Euro 2012 after losing their first two Group B games and need to win by two goals on Sunday evening – and hope Germany beat Denmark – in order to reach the quarter-finals.
Van Bommel was hauled off at half-time of Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to the Germans, with the veteran midfielder’s place in the team having come under increasing scrutiny.
The 35-year-old sat alongside father-in-law Van Marwijk at Saturday’s pre-match press conference in Kharkiv, leading to suggestions he would definitely start on Sunday.
But Van Marwijk continued his recent habit of pouring scorn on questions about his team selection, snapping: “As soon as we begin, you start talking about the first XI.
“You can make your own conclusions.”
Asked if Van Bommel was under pressure, he added: “There is always going to be pressure on players – on me as well.”
Van Marwijk was more forthcoming about his tactics tomorrow, saying: “We have to win with a two-goal difference.
“We have to go for it. That’s what the tactics are based on.”
Van Bommel admitted he could never have predicted such a dramatic fall from grace two years after reaching the World Cup final.
The former AC Milan and Bayern Munich star, who earlier hit out at the criticism of the team, said: “After two games, you have zero points and you have to wait to see what will happen in the other games.
“We didn’t really think it was going to happen like this.”
There have been reports of divisions in the Dutch camp and Van Bommel added: “The atmosphere, after two losses, it’s not as it would be if we’d won twice.
“It’s not that we’re completely down.
“We’ve got a really nice last chance tomorrow and we’re going to take it.”
Like Van Marwijk, Portugal boss Paulo Bento gave short shrift to questions that did not meet with his approval at his own press conference, especially anything that hinted at criticism of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Despite being widely regarded as the best player in Europe, Ronaldo has flopped so far at Euro 2012 and there has been criticism of his workrate when goals have been conceded.
Bento said: “What we’ve done so far is to try to have a balance between offence and defence.
“I want the whole team to be united, consistent, and that includes defensive work of the more offensive players.”
Portugal, meanwhile, know a victory tomorrow may not even be enough to see them progress if there is a freak result in the other game.
Yet, they could also lose by one goal and still go through.
“We will fight to the very last minute to achieve our goals,” said Bento, who always felt all four teams in Group B would be in contention to qualify right up to the final matches.
He added: “I am always very optimistic.
“If I didn’t believe in the possibilities to succeed, I wouldn’t be here.
“We have to believe in the possibility to reach our goal, the goal we brought here from the very beginning.
“We have proved enough that we can continue to believe in ourselves.
“We believe in a great result tomorrow.”