Portugal 3, Denmark 2: Arguably the best match of the tournament so far. Portugal jumped out into an early lead thanks to goals from Pepe and Helder Postiga, then almost threw it away when Nicklas Bendtner scored twice on headers. In the 87th minute, though, Sylvester Varela took advantage of a broken play to score and give Portugal the three points. Obscured in the win was a horrible performance from Cristiano Ronaldo, who missed two one-on-ones with the keeper and has only scored three goals in his last 15 tournament matches. Denmark were poor, but show great resilience. They’re like the Greeks, except with better players.
Germany 2, Netherlands 1: An efficient, dominating performance from the Germans reminds everyone why they’re one of the favorites to win the tournament. The Dutch, meanwhile, are *this* close to being eliminated, though they can still qualify – I’ll explain how in a bit. Mario Gomez scored twice for Germany, running his total to three in two matches, and Robin Van Persie scored the consolation for the Dutch, though it was another poor performance from him. Germany has essentially qualified for the second round, though maybe if Portugal and Denmark both win, they wouldn’t? Wait, that doesn’t seem right – they beat Portugal. I don’t know.
Group B standings
1. Germany 2-0-0, 6 pts, 3 goals scored, 1 goal against
2. Portugal 1-0-1, 3 pts, 3 gs, 3 ga
3. Denmark 1-0-1, 3 pts, 3 gs, 3 ga
4. Netherlands 0-0-2, 0 pts, 1 gs, 3 ga
Who advances? (I think I got this right)
Germany qualifies with a win or draw against Denmark, or if Portugal fails to beat Netherlands (loss or draw), or if they lose to Denmark by one goal but score at least two goals and Portugal score two or less in beating Netherlands. (Yeah, I know)
Portugal qualifies by beating Netherlands, or if they draw against the Netherlands and Denmark fails to beat Germany. They also would qualify if they lost to Netherlands by a goal, but only if the Netherlands scored 2 or fewer goals and Germany also beat Denmark.
Denmark qualifies if they beat Germany and Portugal fails to beat Netherlands, or if they beat Germany by at least two goals. They would also qualify with a draw if the Netherlands beat Portugal.
Netherlands will qualify if they beat Portugal by at least two goals and Germany beats Denmark.
Next Match Day: June 17
1. Germany (2-0-0, 6 pts). Beat Netherlands 2-1. A powerhouse performance against Netherlands has the Germans in the driver’s seat to move on – they just need to take care of business against Denmark. Up next: Denmark, June 17
2. Croatia (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Italy, June 14
3. Ukraine (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: France, June 15
4. Russia (1-1-0, 4 pts). Up next: Greece, June 16
5. Portugal (1-0-1, 3 pts). Beat Denmark 3-2. Portugal were dominant early on against Denmark, then nearly threw the match away before Sylvester Varela saved them. They might advance to the second round, but Ronaldo needs to play better. Up next: Netherlands, June 17
6. Czech Republic (1-0-1, 3 pts). Up next: Poland, June 16
7. Italy (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Croatia, June 14
8. Spain (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Ireland, June 14
9. France (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Ukraine, June 15
10. England (0-1-0 1 pt). Up next: Sweden, June 15
11. Denmark (1-0-0, 3 pts). Lost 3-2 to Portugal. The Danes were dreadful in the first half against Portugal, then almost came back and drew the match. They need to play better against Germany for the whole match to have any hope of moving on. Up next: Germany, June 17
12. Poland (0-2-0, 2 pts). Up next: Czech Republic, June 16
13. Sweden (0-0-1, 0 pts). Up next: England, June 15
14. Greece (0-1-1, 1 pt). Up next: Russia, June 16
15. Ireland (0-0-1, 0 pts). Up next: Spain, June 14
16. Netherlands (0-0-2, 0 pts). Lost 2-1 to Germany. Another match, another performance devoid of inspiration, good defending or team spirit. Don’t be shocked if the Dutch exit the tournament with no points. Up next: Portugal, June 17
Player of the Day: Mario Gomez, Germany. The often-maligned striker answered his critics with two well-taken goals. He might be the best striker at the tournament.
Disappointment of the day: The Netherlands. Sure, Cristiano Ronaldo had the worst individual performance, but for one of the favorites to win the tournament to be clinging barely to the slimmest hope of qualification for the next round after only two matches is just unacceptable.
Goal of the day: Mario Gomez, Germany
Player of the Tournament So Far Rankings
1. Andrei Shevchenko, Ukraine
2. Mario Gomez, Germany
3. Alan Dzagoev, Russia
4. Mesut Ozil, Germany
5. Pepe, Portugal
Just so you know, I’m probably not doing these highlight stories EVERY day. But i’ll try. Damnit, I’ll try. Anyway, a much duller couple matches today in the so-called Group of Death. But on the bright side, there was a big upset, with my boys in red, the Danes, knocking off the Netherlands.
1. Russia (1-0-0, 3 pts). Up next: Poland, June 12
2. Denmark (1-0-0, 3 pts). Defeated Netherlands 1-0. No one expects Denmark to keep their lofty spot in the rankings, but they were excellent defensively, well-organized, and looked the more dangerous team despite being outshot 28-8. Up next: Portugal, June 13
3. Germany (1-0-0, 3 pts). Defeated Portugal 1-0. The Germans didn’t play up to their usual high standards in the opener, but three points will have them well on their way toward the second round. They need a bit more urgency, though. Up next: Netherlands, June 13
4. Greece (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Czech Republic, June 12
5. Poland (0-1-0, 1 pt). Up next: Russia
6. Portugal (0-0-1, 0 pts). Lost 1-0 to Germany. Portugal defended well and moved the ball well, but seems to be at a loss how to attack. Ronaldo’s insistence in staying out wide and rarely being involved in the play doesn’t help. Up next: Denmark
7. Netherlands (0-0-1, 0 pts). Lost 1-0 to Denmark. Lost of questions for the Dutch after getting bullied by what was considered the weakest team in the group. Should Klaas Jan Huntelaar start instead of Robin Van Persie? Is Arjen Robben a bad luck charm? They need to figure the answers out, and soon. Up next: Germany
4. Czech Republic (0-0-1, 0 pt). Looked good for, oh, 10 minutes or so against Russia, then were crushed. Can they win a game? Up next: Greece
Player of the Day: Michael Krohn, Dehli, Denmark. The pint-sized winger from Brondby scored the lone goal in the Danes’ upset win, and ran around making a nuisance of himself for the rest of the match.
Disappointment of the day: The favorites. Neither Netherlands nor Germany, who along with Spain are the favorites to win the tournament, played well in their first matches. But at least the Germans won.
Goal of the day: Michael Krohn-Dehli, Denmark
Player of the Tourney So Far Rankings
1. Alan Dzagoev, Russia
2. Michael Krohn-Dehli, Denmark
3. Robert Lewandowski, Poland
4. Andrei Arshavin, Russia
5. Mats Hummels, Germany
Denmark scored the first big upset of the Euros, beating a dull, dull Netherlands team behind Michael Krohne-Dehli’s first half goal.
The Dutch, one of the favorites to win the tournament, had the lion’s share of possession, but gave up the goal against the run of play, then never really got going in attack. Robin Van Persie and Arjen Robben were particularly poor. With the win, Denmark is in good shape to qualify for the next round – if they can manage a point against either Germany or Portugal, they should do it. The Dutch have an uphill struggle, with the two best teams in the group still to play.
Though a lot of the coverage of the match will probably be about the Netherlands being unlucky or wasteful, it was an excellent defensive performance from the Danes, who nullified the Dutch’s two biggest attacking threats – goalkeeper Stephan Anderson had very little to do all match.
By Jeremiah Paschke-Wood | Only Love Soccer
On Friday, the European Championship begins, and the biggest question going into it is “Can a Spain team that will be without its all-time leading scorer (David Villa) or one of its defensive stalwarts (Carlos Puyol) be able to be the first team to win three successive major tournaments, especially with the likes of Germany, France and the Netherlands gunning for them, or will they wilt under pressure like the Spain teams of old?” It is possible to shorten it to “Can Spain win again?” but then it would only be the most pressing question, not the biggest. Get it? Because it’s really long?
Oh man I’m good.
Anyway, you get the feeling that this Spain team is perhaps more beatable than the last two additions, what with Villa and Puyol’s absence, the fact players like Xavi and Xabi are getting older, and the fulcrum of the attack, Fernando Torres, has been, shall we say, less than prolific lately? Nonetheless, the mind-numbingly dull way Spain ground out the 2010 World Cup title shows that they are a team that doesn’t need to be firing on all cylinders to beat Europe’s other top teams.
The Netherlands and Germany are considering Spain’s main challengers, with other old standbys like France, Italy, Portugal and, ahem, England, thought to be longshots to win the title. Italy, however, is undergoing it’s yearly match-fixing scandal and has been rocked by player injuries. England has also had its share of injuries, and France in the post-Domenech era is still a bit of an unknown quantity (But I think they’ll be good). The Dutch and Germans stream-rolled through the qualifying process, though it remains to be seen if the Germans are still reeling from Bayern’s penalty shootout loss to Chelsea in Champions League.
Pre-Euro All-Euro Team
Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Buffon, Italy. The Italians will struggle to advance to the knockout round, but if they don’t make it, it won’t be the fault of Buffon, who allowed the least goals in the European club season and saw his team, Juventus stay undefeated in all competitions until the last match of the season.
Defender: Gerard Pique, Spain. Pique has struggled this season, but must be dominant for Spain, particularly with Puyol’s absence, if they have any hope of repeating.
Defender: Mats Hummels, Germany. Hummels has quietly been the defensive linchpin of the best team in Germany. With error-prone defenders Per Mertesacker and Jerome Boateng his competition for a starting spot, he should get a shot.
Defender: Ashley Cole, England. England is suffering an injury crisis, is missing Wayne Rooney through suspension and elected not to pick Anton Ferdinand due to a row with fellow defender John Terry about racially abusing his brother, but Cole is a good player, even if he’s just in it for the money.
Defender: Gregory Van Der Wiel, Netherlands. The Ajax full-back is highly coveted by many European teams, and since the Dutch’s only “weak” point is probably their defense, he’ll need to play well.
Midfielder: Xavi Hernandez, Spain. Spain’s midfield metronome might be playing his last tournament (unless he decides to try and stick around for World Cup 2014, when he’ll be 34), so enjoy his ball retention and passing range while you still can, casual fans.
Midfielder: Christian Ericksen, Denmark. Denmark are almost always woefully disappointing in these tournaments, but Ericksen, one of Europe’s most sought after young players, will at least show glimmers of his talent, especially when paired with Christian Poulsen, who is like the Winston Garland of European soccer. (That is for NBA fans)
Midfielder: Wesley Sneijder, Netherlands. I feel like Sneijder is a good player who gets unfairly slapped with the “World Class” tag more than he should, but nonetheless, he starts for the Dutch, and if he ever wants to get out of the aging morass of the Inter Milan team, he’ll need to have a good tournament.
Midfielder: David Silva, Spain. I think technically Andres Iniesta is more important to Spain, but hey, we need to get some wingers in there, right? Silva is clearly one of the best in the world, as his assist total (22 in all competitions for Manchester City) shows.
Forward: Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal. Ronaldo is a winger for Real Madrid, but starts at forward for Portugal, and though he doesn’t often show it for the national team, he is far and away the most talented offensive player in this tournament, even if you want someone, anyone, to take a red card for smacking him.
Forward: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden. My first impulse was to pick Robin Van Persie for this spot, except for two things: 1. There are already enough Dutch players on this team. 2. If this was an actual team, we’d need someone that didn’t spend all their time fussing with Ronaldo over hair gel and who gets the shower next, and Zlatan isn’t what you’d call a pretty boy, though I’m sure he probably thinks he is the most handsome guy in the history of the universe.
Who will win, from first to last
15. Czech Republic
Ranking: 4; Qualifying record: 9-0-1; Best finish: Champion, 1988; Coach: Bert van Marwijk; Nickname: Oranje
After their run to the World Cup final, the Dutch will be one of the favorites to win this tournament, though they have some pretty good competition in Germany and Spain and some of the old standbys who haven’t done so well lately (France, Italy, etc …). They’ll have to be careful in what is undoubtedly one of the toughest groups in the competition.
Player to watch: Robin Van Perie. The Arsenal striker scored 37 goals this season in being named the best player in the English Premier League. Though his international record hasn’t been quite so gaudy, he needs to score for the Dutch to win. Probably.
Ranking: 10; Qualifying record: 6-1-1; Best finish: Champion, 1992; Coach: Morten Olsen; Nickname: None. Can I recommend Cykel Maend?
Yes, Denmark have won this tournament before, shocking their way to the title in 1992. It’s unlikely to happen this year, though, as their group is stacked, and this Danish team, Christian Eriksen aside, is fairly uninspired. They did manage to beat out Portugal to automatic qualification, but they probably didn’t expect that would mean that they’d take on Portugal again in the tournament, but oh well, I guess.
Player to watch: Christian Eriksen. The Ajax midfielder is one of the most coveted young players in the game. The question is whether opposing defenses will give him any opportunity to create, since there’s not really any other Cykel Maends who can create anything on offense.
Ranking: 2; Qualifying record: 10-0-0; Best finish: Champion, 1972, 1980, 1996; Coach: Joachim Loew; Nickname: Nationalmannschaft
The Mannschafts are certainly one of the best in the world, but are starting to stray dangerously into the label of “nearly men” (I think that’s an expression British people use) in tournaments, finishing as runners-up at the last Euros and losing in the semis in the last two world cups. With the Spain squad slightly weaker and slightly older than they’ve been for the last eight years, the Mannschafts have to hope that this is their year. But first, they have to beat the dreaded Dutch and Cristiano Ronaldo to advance.
Player to watch: Miroslav Klose. Klose has long been an OK club striker and an outstanding international performer (63 international goals!), but the question is, at 33, how much gas does he have in the tank. If he doesn’t perform to his usual high standards, it’ll be up to Mario Gomez to actually show up at a big match, for once.
Ranking: 5; Qualifying record: 5-1-2 (Beat Bosnia and Herzegovina in playoff); Best finish: Runners-up, 2004; Coach: Paulo Bento; Nickname: Selecção das Quinas
The Portuguese are one of those teams (See: England) that somehow continue to be very highly ranked by FIFA without winning anything. In fact, Portugal have never won any tournaments, so far as I’ve been able to find out. Nonetheless, they’re still ranked in the Top 5. Go figure. Of course, any team with Cristiano Ronaldo is always going to be dangerous – and will have an extremely high hair product bill, no matter where they go. This tourney, their best bet is probably either Germany or Netherlands self-destructing a la France.
Player to watch: Cristiano Ronaldo. The Real Madrid winger had another incredible club season, scoring 60 goals in all competitions, but has never quite raised his game in international play, though if you asked him, he’d probably give himself a 10 out of 10, and the rest of his team, a 7.
Netherlands vs. Denmark
Germany vs. Portugal
Denmark vs. Portugal
Netherlands vs. Germany
Portugal vs. Netherlands
Denmark vs. Germany
Jeremiah says: As boring as it is to overplay the “Oh, the Dutch and Germans will win this!” aspect of the group, the most important match will be the one pitting the two teams against each other on June 13, particularly if one or both of the teams fail to get a full three points in their first matches. Though they’re clearly the two best teams, it wouldn’t be a shock if one of the two collapsed in grand style in this tournament, since that always seems to happen to one of the favorites. And if that does? Well, Portugal probably has the best shot of advancing.