Holland, with two games lost, know that their campaign is already close to collapse. This makes sure that Group B is filled with arithmetic as much as ambition. They will still advance if they beat Portugal by a two-goal margin and Denmark fall to Germany but the dependence on events outside their control is alarming.
It is a situation to which the manager, Bert van Marwijk, cannot have given much thought considering that his team are high in the world rankings but he has swiftly rediscovered defiance. There was an assumption that Mark van Bommel, the captain, would be sidelined after being substituted against Germany but he was beside his manager for the press conference.
"It's a statement that he is sitting here," Van Marwijk said. Van Bommel made no effort to hide his surprise at the turn of events. "No one thought this would happen," he said. "We have to see what happens in the other game. The mood is not like it would be after two wins but we will fight for that last chance. We are not completely down. We have a nice chance and we will take it."
Van Marwijk needs to increase the threat posed by his team and change is in the air, even if the manager was not inclined to explain his plan. Robin van Persie's role is open to speculation. Van Marwijk has been employing him as the spearhead but there has been no comparison with the contribution that made Van Persie the Footballer of the Year following his exploits with Arsenal.
It seems likely to many that a place will be found in the side for the Schalke striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar, with Van Persie acting as more of a provider from a slightly deeper position. There is an expectation, too, that Rafael van der Vaart, a substitute in the earlier games, will make the starting lineup but Van Marwijk left other issues in doubt.
His efforts to restore the team's faith in themselves is a vital task. The manager will be labouring to lift an inevitable sense of dejection in the squad. Perhaps the players have to remember they were World Cup finalists two years ago when they took Spain to extra time. The disbelief at their plight in Euro 2012 has been a hindrance in itself.
Portugal's frame of mind is harder to interpret. They have not forgotten the pugnacity that rose up in them when their 2-0 lead was cancelled by Nicklas Bendtner's two goals before Silvestre Varela struck in the 87th minute to seize victory against Denmark. The manager, Paulo Bento, has an air of doggedness as well.
Given the tense nature of this group, he is also making a particular effort to be reassuring. It cannot have delighted him that the side let slip that lead against Denmark before recovering to win 3-2 but he chose to emphasise the fortitude in those events. "We have suffered adversity without losing our confidence," Bento said.
The unease over this fixture does not lie solely with the prospects in the group. Statistics may not matter so very much but the Dutch would prefer not to be reminded that they have been unable to beat Portugal in eight matches since victory during the qualifiers for Euro 1992.
The winner from Varela against Denmark in Lviv may have reflected something of this manager's tenacity. There have been clashes that led to players such as the 34-year-old Ricardo Carvalho being ditched and Bento will also be an uncompromising adversary for Van Marwijk.
He must, however, be eager for influence of a high order but Cristiano Ronaldo's impact has been disconcerting. The outcome against Denmark was welcome but minds will dwell on the wastefulness of the Real Madrid attacker and one particularly surprising miss against Denmark.
It is not so rare for a footballer on whom so much depends to feel the weight of public anticipation pinning him down. On the other hand, Bento's situation continues to be enviable. In a moment of stress it should be a relief that he does not need better players, just players who are living up to the standards they have already set for themselves.