Sneijder full of remorse as Holland seek answers

Dutch require two-goal win against Portugal to stand a chance of qualifying

Wesley Sneijder has been in remorseful mood since the Netherlands' 2-1 defeat by Germany at Euro 2012 on Wednesday, repeatedly apologising for his side's poor showings.

He has promised that there will be a reaction in their final Group B game against Portugal on Sunday, but even victory will not guarantee a place in the last eight for the Oranje, whose tournament may be over before it has begun.

"I ask the supporters to keep supporting us. I want to send them our apologies," said Sneijder, who is keenly aware of his team's failings.

"Our understanding appears to have disappeared. It's crazy! I don't understand what's happening to us."

The Inter Milan playmaker's words seem to call into question the choices of coach Bert van Marwijk, who has been strongly criticised at home over the sorry performances of a side that reached the final of the last World Cup.

Sneijder's own performances have provided a rare glimmer of sunlight amid the prevailing gloom - despite an injury-plagued season in Italy, he remains the Netherlands' creative hub.

By way of explanation for his team's two dismal showings to date, the 2010 Ballon d'Or nominee has pointed to "the huge gaps between the lines" of the Dutch formation.

Reading between the lines of Sneijder's declarations, he apparently feels that he is not receiving enough support from defensive midfield pair Mark van Bommel and Nigel de Jong.

The former Ajax star, 28, also felt that Holland "played better (against Germany) after Rafael van der Vaart came on at half-time".

With the Netherlands requiring a two-goal victory over Portugal to stand any chance of qualifying for the last eight, Sneijder appears to believe it is time to sacrifice either van Bommel or de Jong for a more creative alternative.

It is likely that Sneijder's advice will not go unheeded by van Marwijk. Despite his difficulties with Inter over the last 12 months, he remains the boss in the Netherlands changing room.

"I'm here to become a European champion," he insists. "I still believe in it but we need to play as a team more, like the Germans did."

Sneijder has also warned his team-mates to keep their personal disappointments to themselves, after recent outbursts by van der Vaart and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar over their lack of playing time.

"Of course the atmosphere isn't the same as in 2010," he said.

"That's normal when you're not winning. But having said that, we don't have to all be friends to play well together and win matches.

"And I don't get the impression that there are clans or little warring groups. If that was the case, I'd do something about it."

With a do-or-die showdown against Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal looming into view on the horizon, Sneijder knows that now is not the time for the Netherlands to succumb to disunity.

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