The group of death has lived up to its name with the mighty Dutch on the brink of elimination after losing their opening two games, whereas Germany have almost made it through by winning both their matches. Yet, all four teams have a mathematical chance of qualifying, going into the final games of the group. TheHardTackle previews the all important Group B games.

As The Group Stands

Netherlands have the toughest chance of qualifying through to the knock-out stages as they have to win their game as well as hope Germany to win their game against Denmark. That will bring all teams barring Germany level on three points and it will come down to goal difference. However, if Denmark get anything out of their game, Holland will be eliminated.

If Portugal and Denmark both win their games, it will come down to goal difference between them and Germany. However, if either of these teams win and the other one fails to do so, the winning team will qualify along with Germany. If both the games end in a draw, Portugal will qualify at the expense of Denmark due to their win in the game between the two sides. Germany top the group if either Denmark or Portugal fail to win.

——————–

PORTUGAL

v

NETHERLANDS

Metalist Stadium,Ai??Kharkiv

June 17, 2012

***

Portugal were touted as one of the dark horses of the tournament and were certainly the least favourites to go through among the big three teams in the group. However, Holland’s shock loss against the Danes has left them with a great chance of going through. The Portuguese will have to at least match or better the result achieved by Denmark in their game against the mighty Germans. Hence, Paulo Bento will be expecting his side to perform their end of the job properly and win the game against the Netherlands.

The manager has a fully-fit squad available for selection going into this game. However, he is expected to name the starting eleven that has played in the opening two games. Pepe and Bruno Alves will be the center backs while Coentrao and Pereira will be the full backs. Left-back Coentrao, in particular, has been brilliant for the Portuguese going forward and much the same will be expected from the Real Madrid man in this game as well.

Veloso and Meireles will be taking up the roles of deep-lying playmakers in a 4-2-3-1 formation while Ronaldo, Moutinho and Nani will be helping Helder Postiga in attack. Postiga, most of the times, will be leading the line for his team, but occasionally he will be seen swapping places with Cristiano Ronaldo who is never shy in being the furthest player for his side. Moutinho will be the player who will form the link between the two deep midfielders and the more attacking players of his team. Nani will play in his preferred right flank position and will be expected to deliver crosses for Postiga and Ronaldo.

Cristiano Ronaldo, as he is for any team, will be the main man but he will be subjected to a lot of abuse especially after his latest jibe against Lionel Messi. However, Ronaldo has always excelled in these circumstances and if that is the case, the Dutch defenders are in for a hard time.

Netherlands, on the other hand, Ai??came into the tournament with the tag of favourites owing to their strong performances in the past three-four years. The qualifying seemed like a walk in the park and despite being in the group of death, they were almost certain to make it to the next round. However, as things have turned out, they need nothing short of a minor miracle to qualify with their destiny out of their own hands. Not only they need to win their game, they also need the Germans to defeat Denmark.

The Dutch have named almost the same line-up in both their games with the exception of center back Joris Mathijsen who played the game against Germany after missing the opening game of the tournament. Mathijsen and Heitinga is the first choice center back pairing forAi??Bert van Marwijk and they are expected to start this all important game. Gregory van der Wiel and Willems will play at right-back and left-back respectively.

However, the manager is likely to be more positive up-front as van Persie and Huntelaar are both expected to start up front along with Arjen Robben in a 4-2-1-3 formation. Huntelaar, who has been named on the bench in both the games so far, is expected to come into the starting line-up in place of Ibrahim Affelay as the Barcelona man has not been much effective in the opening two games. Mark van Bommel and Nigel De Jong will be the holding midfielders while Wesley Sneijder, as usual, will be pulling the strings from midfield. Robben’s angry reaction on being substituted against Germany would have put his starting berth in jeopardy for any other game, but this is too big a game for egos to come into play.

Key PlayersAi??ai??i?? Robin van Persie (Holland), Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal)

Prediction:Ai??Portugal 2-1 Netherlands

——————–


DENMARK

v

GERMANY

Arena Lviv, Lviv

June 17, 2012

***

Not much is expected of Denmark, as they clash against one of the favourites for Euro 2012. Having said that, they were not expected to beat the Netherlands as well, but that result has kept them in contention of qualifying for the knock out stages going into the last set of fixtures of the group. They have to at least match Portugal’s result against the Dutch or they will find themselves on the plane back home. However, if they do manage to go through, it will certainly be a great achievement considering the powerhouses they were pitted against in this group.

Dennis Rommedahl is set to miss the game due to a leg muscle strain picked up in the game against Portugal while midfielderAi??Niki Zimling is also a doubt and will face a late fitness test. Rest of the squad is fit and ready for selection.

The back four is expected to be the same for Denmark that has been picked in the opening two games. Agger and Kjaer will be in the heart of defence while Simon Poulsen and Jacobsen will be doing the full-back duties. With Gomez in scintillating form combined with his great heading ability, Agger and Kjaer will have to be on their toes as even the slightest slip-up could prove to be dangerous for their team.

The manager will be praying for Zimling’s fitness and will be eager to wait until as late as possible to take a call on his selection. If in case Zimling is not ready, Jakob Poulsen will take up his place alongside Kvist in a 4-2-3-1 formation. Both players will act as defensive midfielders as well as deep lying playmakers as they will be feeding the ball to the attacking quartet on every opportunity.

Tobias Mikkelsen, as he did against Portugal, will take upAi??Rommedahl’s spot on the right wing and will be ably supported by Christian Eriksen andAi??Krohn-Dehli. Nicklas Bendtner will be leading the line as he has done so efficiently in the opening two games for his side. Bendtner’s link-up play with Eriksen andAi??Krohn-Dehli has been excellent as was found out by Portugal in the previous game. However, this is by far the toughest game in the group for them and hence the forward line must be on top of their game to take whatever limited opportunities are there on offer.

football formations

Germany, on the other hand, are best placed in the group with two wins out of two. Even if they lose this game, they will go through if Portugal fail to win against Holland. However, Loew will not leave their fate to chance and will put out a strong team to keep matter in their own hands. Also, any sort of result that confirms them as the top team from their group will allow them to face the second team from group A in the quarter-finals.

The manager has a fully-fit squad available for this game. However, Jerome Boateng will be missing due to suspension as he has picked up two yellow cards in the previous two games. That has given a selection headache for the manager as he is pondering to either playAi??Howedes at right-back or shift Lahm to the right and play only a back three. It is unlikely though, that the manager takes the second route in such an important game as tinkering the formation in the middle of the tournament can prove fatal for his team.

Hummels and Badstuber will be playing in central defence while Philipp Lahm will take up his duties on the left side of defence and Howedes taking the other flank. Schweinsteiger and Khedira will be playing in the central midfield with the latter sitting in front of the back four while the former looking to go forward and help out the front four in attack.

Podolski’s position in the front four is under a little threat as the new Arsenal signing has not been on top of his game and has come under a lot of criticism from pundits and fans alike. However, his ability to play on the left wing and to double up as striker allows the coach to be flexible in his formation and that might again go in his favour. Rest of the attacking men pick themselves as Muller, Ozil and Gomez will be looking to put the Danish defence to a stern test.

Key PlayersAi??ai??i??Nicklas Bendtner (Denmark), Mario Gomez (Portugal)

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One Response to “Euro 2012 Preview: Netherlands Take On Portugal, Germany Face Denmark”

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  1. kaleb says:

    error in the key players bit. Mario Gomez plays for Germany not Portugal