At last real quality football is starting to emerge from these brilliant Euro Championships. Spain’s demolition of Ireland has shown that the defending champions have no intention to relinquish their title. Germany dominated a disappointing Holland 2-1 to affirm their position as tournament favorites with the Spanish.
England and France both posted exciting wins to signal their potential roles as outsiders. Teams of great renown and fame such as Italy, Portugal, Holland, have struggled and stand on the verge of elimination.
Its desperation time in Group B. Portugal plays the last qualifying match with Holland. Portugal earned 3 crucial points from its dramatic win 3-2 win over Denmark. A tie or a win with Holland, would probably see it through to the quarterfinals, should heavily favoured Germany defeat the Danes.
Nobody would have predicted that World Cup finalist Holland would have zero points after their first two games. However, they still have a chance to qualify should they win big versus Portugal and the Germans heavily defeat Denmark.
Coach Van Marwijk has seen a dearth of goals by his side. Van Persie finally came alive in the last game with a brilliant strike, too little and too late versus Germany. Robben has missed more goals than he did in the Champions League final, and only midfield genius Sneijder has shown any quality. The Dutch defense has been pityfull and the two midfielders Van Bommel and De Jong slow and tired.
Without too many choices Van Marwijk will go with Stekelenburg in goal, Van Der Wiel, Heitinga, Mathijsen and probably Vlaar in the back. 18 year old left back Willems appeared outmatched versus Germany's Muller and Van Marwijk will not want him to face Cristiano Ronaldo.
In midfield, Van Bommel, De Jong, and Sneijder must try to find some energy to defeat the average Portuguese midfield. For their sake I hope that Holland start Kuyt instead of Affelay to set up strikers Van Persie and Robben.
The Portuguese played brilliantly in the first half versus Denmark. Coach Bento had to watch his superstar Cristiano Ronaldo miss two incredible chances, and only the entrance of lively Varela won them the match. In Kharkiv, the Portuguese back line will start with Rui Patricio in goal, Pereira, Alves, Pepe, and Coentrao in the back. Veloso, Moutinho, and Nani in the midfield, with Postiga and Cristiano Ronaldo up-front.
As his mentor, Mourinho watches from the stands, Ronaldo will have to take this game in hand to defeat the Dutch. The Portuguese play a lively game, but the Dutch are still the more solid and talented side, so one should think they would win, if not just to reward their desperate fans. Germany has had none of the problems of the Dutch. With 6 points in two games they only need a tie with Denmark to win the group. More columns
There is an outside chance that if they lose and Portugal win they could still be eliminated but nobody, and I mean nobody is betting on that. The Germans have shown consistency in their back line with excellent Neuer in goal, Boateng, Hummerls, Badstuber and Lahm in the back line. In Lviv, Coach Low will rely on this experience back line and propel his young midfielders Khedira, Ozil, and leader Schweinsteiger to overrun the Danes.
The real star of this Germany has been top scorer Gomez with three goals so far, strong and overpowering, and well serviced by quick wings Podolski and Muller. More than a Mercedes, this German team resembles a BMW 6 Series with a souped up motor.
The Danes on the other hand, look more like a Saab, than a Volvo. They upset the Dutch with their best player Krohn Dehli and tied the Portuguese with two brilliant goals by Bendtner. However their defense against Portugal was woefull. Coach Olsen knows that a tie might put him in the quarterfinals and will reinforce his defense of Andersen in goal, Jacobsen, Kjaer, Agger, and Poulsen in the back.
Kvist, Poulsen, Rommedahl, and Eriksen will try to fight the German midfielder, hoping in a counterattack goal by Krohn Dehli or Bendtner. But, lighting usually only strikes once. In all probability, the Germans will patiently demolish the weaker Danes, win their group with 9 points, and take their rightful place in the quarterfinals.