Friday, 25 May 2012

UEFA EURO 2012... GROUP B: The Pick of Destiny

 By Carlos Zimmermann
A little look
Germany go into the Euro 2012 as one of the favourites, being one of the most successful nations and picking up the prize on no fewer then 3 occasions in '72, '80 and '96. They qualified with a 100% record collecting 34 goals on the way, only bettered by their arch rivals Holland who got 37. Germany are the gun slinger's of the Euro's, letting off 87 shots on their way to the big event, and even when they qualified they showed their killer instincts in beating Turkey and Belgium when their opponents needed to win the most. This squad can simply do everything: they control the game more then they used to and can simultaneously switch formations. I believe that they will stick with the tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation for this tournament.
Joachim Low is no fool and knows that the team has to evolve, he has shown this with some very exciting additions to the squad, and in young Mats Hummels he has got one of the best- if not the best- young defender in the world. Winning their first game will be key as Denmark will not be pushovers in the last game. Holland and Germany always excite and  they can expect another really tough derby game this time around.
Head Honcho: Joachim Low
What can we say about this great man that you don't already know? Low has been in charge and changing the face of German football for 6 years now. Like an eagle he would have been stalking his next meal and asking his team to surround the prey and bring back the prize. This master tactician will only enjoy sparking up his rivalry with Spain, knowing that more than likely the team that has knocked them out the last two major competitions will need to be dealt with, that's if they don't hit a bunker in the group stage.  
Danger Man: Lukas Poldolski

This was a tough one to pick but for me Poldolski just gets it. He is Polish born (like a few of the German players) and will know the country well. I am confident that the Arsenal fans will take to this great talent and enjoy watching him at the Euro's as well as next season in the Arsenal colours. He has acquired  a goal record of nearly one every two games for country which is incredible considering how many games he has played. If you need a big game player this is your man. He can play up top but is normally played out on the left where his rocket of a shot will remind Arsenal fans of RVP. 
One to Watch: Mario Gotze

Again this is a deep pool to dive into but flying the flag for the new generation of German talent is this exciting young prospect. Known as the golden boy of German football, he can play anywhere in the space behind the striker. Remember the name Mario Gotze as this kid has it all in the attacking sense, he glides across the grass like a figure skater and can be a danger when shooting or playing team-mates in. Mario was unlucky to be injured for most of the season but this means he will come into the Euro's fresh in body and mind. As his team also won the domestic double he may start the first game and win a place with the brilliant Muller coming into the team so late after playing in the Champions League Final.  
Euro 2012 Schedule

Germany will play two more games before the competition kicks off, the first being against Switzerland on the 26th of May and finally against Israel on the 31st of May. 
Here are their group games:
Saturday 19th of June Germany v Portugal 19:45  L'viv Arena (L'viv)
Wednesday 13th of June Germany v Netherlands 19:45 Oblasny sports Komplex Metalist (Kharkiv)

Sunday 17th of June Germany v Denmark  L'viv Arena (L'viv)

Betting Odds


A little look

Footballs enigma are as bright with the ball and as colourful off the pitch as their famous jersey. It's a shame this fascinating nation has shot itself in the foot time and time again. Holland went through the group stage with ease scoring 37 goals. This seems a lot but the number is made tamer when looking at the 16 goals they put past San Marino. They did however lose to Sweden 3-2 but only after they had gained qualification and beaten them 4-1 at home. In their last two friendlies they lost to arch rivals Germany 3-0 but picked up a good victory against England at Wembley winning 3-2. They face a tough group and will have to hit the ground running against Denmark if they are serious about going all the way.  

Head Honcho: Bert Van Marwijk

Bert Van Marwijk, age 60, took the reins from legend Marco Van Basten after Euro '08 and had a great world cup beating teams such as Brazil and Uruguay. He did however get criticised for the display in the final where they forgot it's the ball and not the player that you kick. Johan Cruyff most famously called it "anti-football". Getting to the final is no easy task, much the same this time around will please the man in charge. Bert has spent most of his career in his homeland: he did have a brief spell with Borussia Dortmund but soon returned to home comforts.

Danger Man:Wesley Sneijder     

Sneijder hasn't had his best season to date and may be struggling for fitness but when on top form he really makes this team click, and he and his team mates will need to be at their best in this group of death. Sneijder can't be too careful and may have to start strong to keep his place.  

One to Watch: Klaas-Jan Hunterlaar

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has had his most prolific season, bagging himself an incredible 55 goals for club and country. With that record I feel I have to mention him as he may be watching from the side lines. Robert Van Persie has had an fantastic season too scoring 43 goals, and it's in RVP's all round play that just might give him the edge. It could be dangerous and a tight squeeze  to play them both alongside Sneijder and Robben. They will all be needed at some point and it's a tough call, I'm just glad it's not me making it.

Euro 2012 Schedule

Netherlands will play three more games before the competition kicks off, the first being against Bulgaria  on the 26th of May then Slovakia on the 30th of May and finally Northern Ireland on the 2nd of June.

Here are their group games:

Saturday 9th of June Netherlands v Denmark 17:00 Oblasny sports Komplex Metalist (Kharkiv)

Wednesday 13th of June Netherlands v Germany 19:45  Oblasny sports Komplex Metalist (Kharkiv)

Sunday 17th of June Netherlands v Portugal  19:45  Oblasny sports Komplex Metalist (Kharkiv)

Betting Odds
Winning it outright 13/2


A little look

Carlos Queiroz and Portugal had a terrible start to their campaign.       Selecção' began proceedings with an underwhelming 4-4 draw with Cyprus followed by the 1-0 defeat to Norway. Carlos got himself in trouble after a row with the doping Board that landed him a 6 month ban. Bento was in the hot seat and didn't disappoint, winning the next 5 games in the group as well as the 4-0 scalp against their bitter rivals Spain. Bento and Portugal finally lost against Denmark. This was the wrong game to lose and Portugal had to take the scenic route facing Bosnia in the play-off's. After a shaky 0-0 first leg on a questionable pitch they went on to be comfortable winners with a 6-2 demolition at home. When  Portugal win they like to indulge with big score lines. The problem occurs in the big moments; when it matters most they seem to fall at the hurdle of their own expectation.

Head Honcho: Paulo Bento

Bento is a former Portugal international and at only 42 he is the youngest Coach to take Portugal to the finals. He has done really well to steady the Portuguese ship and get them sailing in the right direction after such rocky seas to begin with, apart from the bust up with Jose Bosingwa and Ricardo Carvalho, which he may be wishing didn't happen for the sake of the defence. He seems like he has got the respect of the players, and they feel he is one of them having played in a major competition as little as 12 years ago. Bento is a strong tactican who lets his players express themselves within his set up. The league always seemed to slip from his grasp but it's in the cups were he excelled for Sporting, and is hoping to do the same for his nation.  

Danger Man: Ronaldo

In Ronaldo we are lucky to have such a great talent to watch. It is no miracle that he is up there with the best ever. If you see the amount of training hours, blood, sweat and tears (sometimes too many tears) he has put in you would not be surprised, and you would see a player who is 100% committed to being the best. Ronaldo has scored a whopping 59 goals for Real Madrid this season on the way to his first La Liga title. He has a further 7 goals and 7 assists  in 8 games for country. Under the guidance of Mourinho he has added a few new bows to his game most notably the amount of assists he lays onto his team mates, 12 in total - only four less than Messi, a player praised for his unselfishness. If Rocket Ron gets flying this summer there may be no stopping him  

One to Watch: Nani

All eyes will be on Ronaldo, but forget Nani at your own peril. He has been a big part of all things good for Portugal, as well as adding 5 goals in the 10 games he has played. For as quick footed and skilful as Nani can be, he can sometimes slow the game down too much waiting for his man so he can beat him twice when he should instead just go at goal; his decision making can be questionable sometimes. If he can do the right things at the right time and pull the tricks out when needed, he could have a good tournament. Nani has a great shot and can score with either foot which makes him a tricky customer for a defender as you never know whether to let him go inside or outside. He is the sort of player that can light up a Euro. 

Euro 2012 Schedule  

 Portugal will play two more games before the competition kicks off, the first being against Macedonia on the 26th of May then Turkey on the 2nd of June.

Here are their group games:

Saturday 19th of June Portugal v Germany 19:45  L'viv Arena (L'viv)

Wednesday 13th of June Portugal v Denmark 17:00 L'viv Arena (L'viv)

Sunday 17th of June Portugal v Netherlands 19:45  Oblasny sports Komplex Metalist (Kharkiv)

 Betting Odds:
Winning outright: 16/1


A little look

There are no bells or tinsel in Denmark's winter wonderland. This team will be tough to beat even in this group.The general consensus is that the  Danes have no chance and its in this low expectation that relieves the pressure, as it did when they won Euro '92, in which they were thrown in only two weeks before as civil war in Yugoslavia made it impossible for them to compete. I will not go as far to say they have been let of the leash as the Danes seem to know what they're good at and stick by it. In my opinion they are the "2-1 team" as their scores always seem to be approximating that, as they work hard defensively as a unit and make the chances up the other end count. They had a tough group that held the Portuguese along with Scandinavian rivals Norway and Iceland. To come out on top in this group of five was no easy task, one only made more significant by the fact that they beat Portugal when the pressure was on. This could hold them in good stead in the group of "death".

Head Honcho: Morten Olsen

Olsen may not take kindly to this but to me he is the grandfather of the Euro's. This is not because he is 62 but down to the fact that he has been leading the Danes' march on football for near on thirteen years, which is more than any other coach at this competition. Olsen is a  intelligent man when it comes to football; he will be fondly remembered by Ajax fans for winning the league and cup double in his only year there, and he left a lasting impression bringing  Michal Laudrup to the club. Ajax rubbed off on him too with the way they structure their training at all levels. He has brought and implemented this philosophy to the Danish federation. No matter what happens, I feel he can't lose and will always be remembered for what he gave to his nation.

Danger Man: Nicklas Bendtner

Bendtner's career has never really got going, however he is only 24 so time is on his side. Arsenal fans may be puzzled why he has been picked because he didn't fit their style of play and they soon forgot the important last minute points he gained them. Now playing at Sunderland, Nicklas has a ratio of a goal every 3 games which although not great, is not to be sneered at either. His style of play suits the Danes and he will have to be in the mood if he wants to add to his 3 national goals in qualifying and  play more then 3 games this summer.

One to Watch:Christian Eriksen

Eriksen, who was born in '92, may be wishing he was playing the year of his birth. This throw back of the old number 10 has vision past his young years. His ability to see and execute key passes makes him so dangerous. This young talent made his début for the national side at only 18 against Austria in a friendly, and played in the World Cup in South Africa later that year. Eriksen has notched up around 22 games in European competitions for Ajax, scoring two goals which can only help the lad develop as a player. This Euro may be a step too far this time, but under Olsen he will learn and grow from his experiences here, and if he picks the right leagues and teams for his style of play he could have a very fulfilling career.

Euro 2012 Schedule
Denmark will play two more games before the competition kicks off, the first being against Brazil on the 26th of May then Australia on the 2nd of June.

Here are their group games:

Saturday 9th of June Denmark v Netherlands 17:00 Oblasny sports Komplex Metalist (Kharkiv)

Wednesday 13th of June Denmark v Portugal 17:00 L'viv Arena (L'viv)

Sunday 17th of June Germany v Denmark  L'viv Arena (L'viv)

 Betting Odds:
Winning outright: 80/1

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