Euro 2012: Group B Preview
Wednesday, June 07, 2012 Report by Rajarshi Ghosh
The Dutch, of course, dropped a 1-0 decision in the final of World Cup 2010 in South Africa two years ago. It won't be an easy road for the Netherlands in their quest for a potential rematch, this one at Euro 2012. Group B, after all, is considered the Group of Death. And with good reason.
Squeezed in with rival Germany, Ronaldo's Portugal and upstart Denmark, just getting out of the group stage will be a grind, even for a skilled side that features elite players such as Sneijder and fellow midfielder Arjen Robben.
One of the best matches in the early group stages will see the Dutch take on the hated Germans on June 13 in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The Germans drubbed the Dutch 3-0 several months ago in a so-called friendly, although rarely is anything "friendly" when these foes lock horns. You can bet the Dutch will have revenge on their minds.
Goalkeepers: Tim Krul (Newcastle United/ENG), Maarten Stekelenburg (AS Roma/ITA), Michel Vorm (Swansea City/ENG)
Defenders: Khalid Boulahrouz (VfB Stuttgart/GER), Wilfred Bouma (PSV Eindhoven), John Heitinga (Everton/ENG), Joris Mathijsen (Malaga/ESP), Ron Vlaar (Feyenoord), Gregory van der Wiel (Ajax), Jetro Willems (PSV)
Midfielders: Mark van Bommel (AC Milan/ITA), Nigel de Jong (Manchester City/ENG), Stijn Schaars (Sporting Lisbon/POR), Wesley Sneijder (Inter Milan/ITA), Kevin Strootman (PSV Eindhoven), Rafael van der Vaart (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG)
Forwards: Ibrahim Afellay (Barcelona/ESP), Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Schalke 04/GER), Luuk de Jong (FC Twente), Dirk Kuyt (Liverpool/ENG), Luciano Narsingh (SC Heerenveen), Robin van Persie (Arsenal/ENG), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich/GER)
2008-Quarterfinals, 2004-Semifinals, 2000-Semifinals, 1996-Quarterfinals, 1992-Semifinals, 1988-Winner, 1980-Group stage, 1976-Third place, 1964-Last 16
The Danes like their soccer flavoured with a pinch of rough and tumble, a recipe that has proved to be successful in qualifying. The Danes went an impressive 6-1-1 en route to making the final 16 of Euro 2012, finishing ahead of favoured Portugal in the group.
Leading the charge was the defensive duo of Daniel Agger and Simon Kjaer, players who used as much muscle as they did hustle in shutting down opposing strikers. But the draw for the group stage of this tournament didn't do the Danes any favours. With Portugal, Germany and the Netherlands alongside in the Group of Death, a repeat of Denmark's championship at the 1992 Euro championship is a tall order indeed.
During that memorable tournament 20 years ago, the Danes, who originally did not qualify for the tournament, were made a late addition when Yugoslavia was excluded because of the civil war in that country. That team took advantage of its last-minute invitation to Sweden and went all the way to the final, where the Danes defeated the Germans 2-0 to capture the title.
This edition of the Danish squad already knows it can beat Portugal, having posted a 2-1 victory over Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates in qualifying. It is a dangerous team, one that can use its physical defence to smother other teams. Producing offence could be more difficult. During the win over Portugal, the Danes could muster just three shots and were fortunate that two found the back of the net.
Goalkeeper: Thomas Sorensen, Stephan Andersen, Anders Lindegaard
Defenders: Lars Jacobsen, Simon Poulsen, Daniel Wass, Simon Kjaer, Daniel Agger, Andreas Bjelland, Jores Okore
Midfielders: William Kvist, Michael Silberbauer, Christian Poulsen, Niki Zimling, Jakob Poulsen, Lasse Schone, Christian Eriksen, Thomas Kahlenberg
Attackers: Nicklas Bendtner, Dennis Rommedahl, Tobias Mikkelsen, Michael Krohn-Dehli, Nicklas Pedersen
2004-Quarterfinals, 2000-Group stage, 1996-Group stage, 1992-Winner, 1988-Group stage, 1984-Semifinal, 1964-Fourth place, 1960-Last 16
A lot depending on superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Having scored more than 50 goals for a second consecutive year, the Real Madrid striker understandably will be in the spotlight when Euro 2012 kicks off.
Unfortunately, if Ronaldo isn't on top of his game from the first moment he puts cleats to ball, it could be a short run for Portugal. Imagine the nightmare for manager Paulo Bento when the draw for the group stage took place in Kiev late in 2011.
Bento found his squad lumped in with Germany and the Netherlands both ranked among the top five in the world. But he also could not have been thrilled when the alleged Weak Team of this Group of Death turned out to be Denmark, which finished ahead of Portugal in their qualifying group.
Portugal actually needed to beat Bosnia-Herzegovina in a two-leg playoff just to reach the final 16 for Euro 2012. Having said that, this is a dangerous team, especially up front. Realistically, a victory over the Germans or Dutch shouldn't be considered a huge shock.
The Achilles heel is a porous back end that can be exposed in Portugal's often wide-open system. A 6-2 victory that finished off Bosnia-Herzegovina showed just how quickly Portugal can fill the net, but it's at the defensive end where the questions fester. And in a group that features stars such as Arjen Robben and Mario Gomez, it will be a tough task indeed to keep opponents off the scoreboard.
Goalkeepers: Eduardo (SL Benfica), Rui Patrício (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Beto (CFR 1907 Cluj).
Defenders: João Pereira (Sporting Clube de Portugal), Fábio Coentrão (Real Madrid CF), Bruno Alves (FC Zenit St Petersburg), Rolando (FC Porto), Ricardo Costa (Valencia CF), Pepe (Real Madrid CF), Miguel Lopes (SC Braga).
Midfielders: Raúl Meireles (Chelsea FC), Miguel Veloso (Genoa CFC), João Moutinho (FC Porto), Rúben Micael (Real Zaragoza), Carlos Martins (Granada CF), Custódio (SC Braga).
Forwards: Nani (Manchester United FC), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid CF), Hugo Almeida (Beşiktaş JK), Ricardo Quaresma (Beşiktaş JK), Silvestre Varela (FC Porto), Hélder Postiga (Real Zaragoza), Nélson Oliveira (SL Benfica).
2008-Quarterfinals, 2004-Second, 2000-Semifinals, 1996-Quarterfinals, 1984-Semifinals, 1964-Preliminary round, 1960-Quarterfinals
Joachim Loew's talented squad has been the fashionable pick during the hype leading up to Euro 2012.
But in order for the Germans to meet those lofty expectations, they will have to find a way to finish off what they started, something that has eluded them in recent finals.
In 2002 it was a loss in the World Cup title game to Brazil. In 2008 the Germans were defeated by Spain in the championship match for the European Championship crown. And at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, it was heartbreak yet again, this time eliminated in the semifinal by that same talented Spanish side.
Now, less than one month after Bayern Munich shockingly was upset on its home pitch by Chelsea for the Champions League crown, the German national side will attempt to take the final step that has collapsed on multiple occasions during the past decade.
There is no doubt this team is as talented as any in the tournament. Goaltender Manuel Neuer is world class and midfielder Mesut Ozil has the type of flash and dash that makes him a pre-tourney candidate as MVP. Up front, the ageless Miroslav Klose and goal-scoring machine Mario Gomez are feasting in manager Loew's up-tempo scheme.
The Germans rightfully are among the favourites here. Let's just see if they can seal the deal, a path that might include another showdown against nemesis Spain.
Goalkeepers Manuel Neuer (Bayern Munich), Tim Wiese (Werder Bremen), Ron-Robert Zieler (Hanover 96).
Defenders Holger Badstuber (Bayern Munich), Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich), Benedikt Hoewedes (Schalke 04), Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund), Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich), Per Mertesacker (Arsenal), Marcel Schmelzer (BorussiaDortmund).
Midfielders Lars Bender (Bayer Leverkusen), Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund), Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund), Sami Khedira (Real Madrid), Toni Kroos (Bayern Munich), Thomas Müller (Bayern Munich), Mesut Ozil (Real Madrid), Marco Reus (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Andre Schürrle (Bayer Leverkusen), Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich).
Forwards Mario Gomez (Bayern Munich), Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Lukas Podolski (Cologne).
2008-Second, 2004-Group stage, 2000-Group stage, 1996-Winners, 1992-Second, 1988-Semifinals, 1984-Group stage, 1980-Winners, 1976-Second, 1972-Winners
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