RWD’S EURO 2012 PREVIEW: GROUP B

Ahead of Euro 2012 day-two, we checked out Holland, Germany, Portugal and Denmark in The Group of Death...

6 years ago

By Teg

GROUP B

So the first game wasn’t a classic, at least we got two goals and two red cards. The second game saw five goals and a quite masterful performance from Andrey Arshavin.

Ahead of day two we look at “The Group Of Death,” with Group B’s Holland, Germany, Portugal and Denmark.

HOL

HOLLAND

Can Holland win Euro 2012? Yes. But Holland could probably have won every tournament they’ve ever qualified for [slight exaggeration], yet only the solitary European Championship medal rests in their trophy cabinet. A World Cup Final in which the beautiful game’s spiritual leaders preferred fly-kicks to triangle passing means the pressure is on the Dutch to win and win in style.

Key Player

It’s hard to see beyond Robin van Persie as Holland’s most important player this summer. Asked to play out wide more often than is reasonable to request of the Premier League’s top goalscorer, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar is banging on the door, but RVP with Wesley Sneijder, Arjen Robben and super-sub Rafael van der Vaart will get goals. The Arsenal man should reasonably hope to be this summer’s Golden Boot winner.

Where will the goals come from?

Robin van Persie of course. No other team in the tournament boasts a striker as in-form as the mercurial RVP and with Hunetlaar, Robben, Afellay, Sneijder and van der Vaart, there’s plenty more in reserve. We’re hoping to get a look at youngsters Luuk De Jong and Luciano Narsingh too.

How far will they go?

Holland’s first task is navigating the tournament’s so-called “Group of death”, but they’re lucky enough to be starting with the group’s weakest side Denmark. A win in that game and one against Portugal or Germany and they’ll expect a semi-final place at least.

MESUT

GERMANY

The favourites for the tournament, Germany were shocked by Switzerland last week raising concerns about the quality in depth in key positions.

Key Player

Mesut Ozil collected the most assists in Europe last season and his creativity will be vital if Germany are to make the most of Joachim Low’s attacking philosophy this summer, but the raw industry of Bastian Schweinsteiger will decide Germany’s fate this summer. Still reeling from Bayern Munich’s Champions League failure, an extra motivated Schweinsteiger will be the most motivated player at the tournament.

Where will the goals come from?

Miroslav Klose is an all-time great, but can he deliver the goals of a tournament winning team at 34? Get past Klose and you’ve got Mario Gomez, whose performance in the Champions League final was one of the worst we’ve ever seen in a major final.  Lukas Podolski will start out on the left but should Germany fail to hit the net in their opening game with Portugal expect that to change.

How far will they go?

Germany should win Euro 2012. We believe, Germany believes, the bookies believe. Thomas Muller, Sami Khedira, Mesut Ozil and Bastian Schweinsteiger is not a midfield built for losing and the idea of having Mario Gotze in reserve is a terrifying one for any team outside of Spain. Jerome Boateng playing a right-back is far from ideal and most Germans would rather see Mats Hummels partnering Holger Badstuber, but Per Mertesacker is the manager’s favourite and Low wants to attack, he doesn’t want to worry about defending. Anway, Manuel Neuer offers pretty solid reassurance.

RONALDO

PORTUGAL

Portugal just about made Euro 2012 with a play-off victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina and expectations are dangerously low. There’s this one bloke who can drag them through “The Group of Death,” but the quality of attacking players around him actually defies belief.

Key Player

We weren’t sure whether or not we should try to shock you by saying the midfield trio of Joao Moutinho, Raul Meireles and Miguel Veloso will have more of an impact on Portugal’s potential success at Euro 2012 than Cristiano Ronaldo, but we’d be lying to ourselves. Ronaldo is one of the two best players in the world and with Helder Postiga and Hugo Almeida likely to cut very lonely and very ineffective figures up-top it will once again fall to CR9 and to a lesser extent Nani to score the goals that will almost definitely not see them qualify from Group B.

Where are the goals coming from?

Cristiano Ronaldo. Next question.

How far will they go?

Portugal are not as good as Germany or Holland and have a nasty habit of losing to Denmark, so qualification from Group B looks unlikely. Their lack of quality up front and their lopsided backline should make them easy prey.

DENMARK

DENMARK

Denmark won the European Championships in 1992 despite not actually qualifying, which has absolutely no relevance to the team of today, but along with Greece’s 2004 triumph it serves as a useful reminder that anything can happen in football. Ranked as the absolute outsiders in Group B, should Denmark  replicate their qualification success against Portugal last year, then they’ll only need to beat one of the two other teams in their group who just happen to be two of the three best teams at the tournament.

Key Player

It’s hard to see beyond Ajax’s Christian Eriksen who is courting interest from Europe’s top clubs this summer, as Denmark’s key player. At 20 years old,  he’s got the confidence of Nicklas Bendtner without all the added Nicklas Bendtner of Nicklas Bendtner and the technique to compete with the Ozils, Sneijders and Moutinhos of Group B.

Where will the goals come from?

Can you believe Dennis Rommedahl is still starting for on the right-wing for Denmark? The dribble obsessed winger struggled for ideas in his three year spell at Charlton Athletic, and while we’re not arrogant enough as to assume that the Premier League is the be all and end all of footballing excellence, we haven’t seen much in his subsequent spells at Ajax, N.E.C, Olympiakos or current club Brondby to alter our perceptions, but 116 caps mean he comes to the tournament with a fair amount of experience. All this Rommedahl talk is to distract from the fact that Nicklas Bendtner is where Denmark’s goals will be coming from this summer. It’s not that we don’t believe he can do it, it’s just that he believes enough for all of us.

How far will they go?

Denmark will struggle to escape “The Group of Death,” in fact they’ve probably got as little chance as anybody in the tournament as things stand. A lot will be asked of Thomas Sorensen, who generally doesn’t like a lot being asked of him, if Denmark are to win at all.