By Amjad Baker
Italy needs to hold Holland or else they are out of the Euro 2000, as the countdown reaches its peak when they meet Today at 16:00 GMT in Amsterdam ArenA to identify the second finalist who will play with France on Sunday.
Both team players are loaded with heavy responsibilities ahead of their game, as their heartbeats' are getting rapidly faster and faster with each tick.
What worries both teams is the fact that they are standing equal chances of qualifying, but the finals has got only one vacant seat left. On similar footsteps both, Italy and Holland smashed all opponents to reach the semifinals with a 100% clean victorious record.
It is not only the players who are worried but their fans are as well and even the neutral curious fans who are desperately after an answer for "who will win, Italy or the Orange?"
Statistics indicate that the Italians are fit for the finals, as they celebrated 6 victories over the Dutch out of their 13 matches since 1920, whereas the Orange won only twice and drew 5 times.
This is the mathematics language, which is not necessarily accurate with a round ball.
Holland's semifinal qualification came after the unforgettable win over Yugoslavia. It was a big day to remember for both the Dutch and Patrik Kluivert, who led a delightful hattrick to put down the Yugoslavians 6-1.
But this is not good enough to beat the Italians.
Holland coach Frank Rijkaard who served in the same team 15 years ago as one of its key players and helped his team to win Euro 1984 title said that, his team would have to adopt a new technique for Italy's match.
As it happens for most of the crucial games, the coach works harder than his players, putting all his efforts to pave the way for his team to nail the other side.
"We need to work on the details of how Italian strikers play. The way an Italian challenges for the ball different to other strikers and I need to brief my defenders," AFP quoted Rijkaard, who made sure that his players "know what they have to do in general."
Netherlands are good on the offensive side, but need to switch to the defensive line to block Italy's merciless invaders who can make their own way through iron.
Holland's coach is very much aware of the Italians playing style, especially since he was one of AC Milan stars. "We want to play our own offensive style," said Rijkaard.
The demolition of Yugoslavia in the quarterfinals showed just how much damage Frank Rijkaard's side can wreak against a side who are sloppy at the back and overrun in the middle of the park.
Dennis Bergkamp and Patrick Kluivert impressed the Yugoslavians with their high performances, however, they need to be more energized than ever before for Italy's game.
Kluivert, ditched by AC Milan in 1998 after a miserable debut season, scored a hattrick, Bergkamp was omnipresent in his playmaking role and Marc Overmars again used his speed and ball skills down the flank.
The Dutch may have put Yugoslavia's defense through the shredding-machine, but they will not find it so easy to do the same with the likes of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro.
Italy have a fortunate generation of players in Francesco Totti, Alessandro Del Piero and midfielder Stefano Fiore, but solid defending and counter-attack has been the basis of Italy's success at Euro 2000, which might be also seen on Thursday - Albawaba.com
Italy Vs Holland
1920 Italy 1, Holland 1
1921 Italy 2, Holland 2
1928 Italy 3, Holland 2
1930 Italy 1, Holland 1
1974 Italy 1, Holland 3
1975 Italy 1, Holland 0
1978 Italy 1, Holland 2
1979 Italy 3, Holland 0
1981 Italy 1, Holland 1
1988 Italy 1, Holland 0
1990 Italy 0, Holland 0
1990 Italy 1, Holland 0
1992 Italy 3, Holland 2
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)