Euro 2012 Group B Preview: Many challenges in Group of Death

June 5th, 2012 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Warsaw, June 5 (IANS) All national team coaches agreed after the Euro 2012 Football Championships draw in December that only one pool could be touted as the “Group of Death” with the likes of Germany, the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark battling it out.

All four teams in Group B are ranked in the top 10, Germany second, the Netherlands fourth, Portugal fifth and Denmark 10th. Furthermore, Germany have won the Euro titles thrice (1972, 1980, 1996), the Netherlands once(1988) as well as Denmark (1992).

“It’s the toughest group, everyone agrees on that,” Dutch coach Bert van Marwijk told the UEFA website. “It’s a huge challenge. I don’t have to motivate my players.”

Denmark’s main quality is the team spirit, while Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal add many individual class players who can decide matches on their own.

Germany have the likes of Mesut Ozil, Thomas Muller and Mario Gotze, Holland relies on Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben, while Portugal depend on Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo. However, all three teams, have shown defensive weaknesses in their recent performances.

“They all have their strengths,” said German coach Joachim Low. “Portugal and the Netherlands are the most technical teams in the world, and Denmark are strong as a team.”

“It is going to be tough,” said Portugal coach Paulo Bento. “There will be hard work ahead of us as we try to reach our goal of going through the knockout stages.”

Denmark coach Morten Olsen added: “Obviously, we will have to be at our best and we need to have all of our key players fit for the ten days. On top of that, we will need a good deal of luck to succeed.”

The Netherlands and Denmark will play the group opener in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv Saturday, followed by Germany vs Portugal in Lviv. In the second round June 13, Denmark face Portugal in Lviv, while the Netherlands and Germany clash in Kharkiv. Group B will be finalised June 17 with the matches Denmark vs Germany in Lviv and Portugal against the Netherlands in Kharkiv.

The most eagerly awaited encounter will be the one between the Netherlands and Germany. Both teams have a rich history and met each other 38 times before, with (West-)Germany winning 14 times, the Netherlands 10 times and the match ending in a draw 14 times. The most famous encounter was the one between West Germany and Holland in the 1974 World Cup final when the former won 2-1. The best memory for the Dutch dates back to the semifinals of Euro 1988 when they beat Germany 2-1 and went on to win the title.

The most recent encounter between Germany and Netherlands in November ended in an emphatic 3-0 win for the Germans, Xinhua reported.

“Netherlands will be much better than the team in November,” said Low. “They missed a fantastic player like Van Persie for example. They were in World Cup final and in recent years they performed better than us.

Germany historically holds an edge against all three group opponents.

Based on historic results, Portugal should have no fear for the Netherlands, losing only once and winning six times in ten previous meetings.

Portugal ousted the Netherlands in the Euro 2004 semifinals and also in the last 16 of the 2006 World Cup. Denmark finished above Portugal in the Euro 2012 qualifying group, beating Portugal 2-1 in the final match. The Danes also know how to beat the Netherlands and Germany, overcoming both nations to be crowned European champions in 1992.

With Germany and the Netherlands being the favourites to go through, Portugal and Denmark have reasons to remain positive.

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